Developers propose Southeast Como development amid resident concerns

DJR Architecture and North Bay Companies will bring their proposal to the City in November.

A rendering of the development at 934 and 938 15th Ave SE

Courtesy of DJR Architecture

A rendering of the development at 934 and 938 15th Ave SE

Imani Cruzen

A new Southeast Como development has raised resident concerns about the future of the predominantly single-family home neighborhood.  

The proposed residential development, which would replace two unoccupied single-family homes at 934 and 938 15th Ave. SE., includes two buildings of six four-bedroom units each and a smaller bike enclosure. Developers North Bay Companies and DJR Architecture will meet with the Minneapolis Planning Commission on Nov. 13 after hearing concerns from residents.

Southeast Como Improvement Association met with the developers last summer to discuss safety, rezoning and parking, according to a SECIA letter sent to city planner Lindsey Wallace on Oct. 22.

There were concerns the development did not meet the neighborhood’s small area plan, which was approved by the City of Minneapolis in July 2016.

“It really doesn’t fit in the small area plan, the Como Blueprint,” said Karl Smith, president of the SECIA board. “And that created a lot more … tension and quite a lot of frustration.”

The plan encourages medium-density development and the maintenance of existing low-density housing. But with its high density, the development doesn’t meet the plan’s recommendations, Smith said.

The developers are requesting a parking variance to allow 17 parking spaces, rather than the 24 spaces that would be required by the City based on the number of bedrooms.

Resident Wendy Menken said despite SECIA’s letter to City planners expressing their concerns with the development, the City tends to ignore what neighborhoods want. Menken said this is part of a larger pattern of neighborhoods feeling ignored in development approval processes. 

“It’s money that’s driving it for sure,” Smith said. “And it’s a convenient place to live if you’re a student at the [University], but it’s not a great addition to the neighborhood.”

The plot designated for the development is very dilapidated, and the development would be an improvement for the neighborhood, said Jesse Duchon, project lead with DJR Architecture.

Duchon said DJR Architecture has done its best to address resident concerns. Parts of the development have been redesigned to address resident concerns, such as centralizing entrances to improve safety. Additionally, the development’s size is not unusual for that area, he said. 

“We hear the neighborhood concerns and we’re trying our best to address all of them, parking zoning, student housing issues,” Duchon said. “And we want them to love this project too.”

But some design elements, including the number of parking spaces, can’t change despite concerns, Duchon said.

“I mean, we [would] have to rezone it in order to build this project,” Duchon said.

The City Planning Commission will consider the proposal on Nov. 13, and developers plan to meet with SECIA again on an undecided date.