City Council vote stalls development at Dinkytown McDonald’s site

The city laid out three options for the development moving forward.

The McDonald's located on the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and 15th Avenue Southeast as seen on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Liam Armstrong

The McDonald’s located on the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and 15th Avenue Southeast as seen on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Caitlin Anderson

With a Minneapolis City Council vote on Friday, plans for large-scale development at the site of Dinkytown McDonald’s have effectively been stalled.

The CA Ventures proposed development, in partnership with ESG Architecture and Design, hit a snag late last week when the city council upheld an earlier ruling to deny developer requests to get around city planning guidelines. The path forward remains unclear for the development team, which has limited options for its next steps, city staff said.

“We’ve carried through on our promises here in Minneapolis,” said Ryan Sadowy, senior director for development at CA Ventures, at a public hearing on Feb. 6. “We’re very sincere about this project … and the positive impacts it can have across the platform.”

The project with up to 25 stories, also proposed at the site of Dinkytown Wine and Spirits and other businesses, was first announced to the community last summer. After some concerns about its scale, the development team has met with community members and city staff to rework the plan, including a reduction in the proposed building’s height down to 10 stories.

“I think people generally want something that’s more consistent with what they’ve had in their plans and maybe something that isn’t quite so big or dense right in that block,” said Ward 2 City Council member Cam Gordon. 

Plans submitted to the city in December originally included a total of 329 units with 885 bedrooms, 23,000 square feet of commercial space at a reduced rate, public space and enhanced bus stops. If the project moves forward, McDonald’s would also return to the first floor of the building, according to city documents. 

After hearing the proposal in December, the city’s planning commission denied its aspects relating to proposed density, while others were approved.

The development sought an appeal to the denials, citing sufficient community benefit. Another appeal was also brought forward by Marcy-Holmes resident Cordelia Pierson for the approval of the development height and lack of minimum required parking spaces.

“We set boundaries, and in this day and age, boundaries are extremely important,” Pierson said at the Feb. 6 hearing. “The signal you will send is that we will require developers to honor those boundaries.” 

Prior to review of the appeals, the development team made changes to their application, including the shape of the building.

Owners of the project could change their minds, which is why the project needs to move forward promptly, Sadowy said. Representatives from the development team declined to provide further comment to the Minnesota Daily at the time of publishing. 

City staff laid out three paths forward for the project, but the direction the development will go remains unclear.

Options include either changing elements of the plan, including scaling back the application’s zoning variances 10% or resubmitting the same plan in a year, said Lindsey Silas, the city planning staff member assigned to the project. Otherwise, the project could be scrapped altogether, she said.

Irv Hershkovitz, owner of Dinkytown Wine and Spirits, said the process has been long, but he is still supportive of the project.

“I chose [these developers] because I thought they were a very good fit; they know the college area,” he said. “I just didn’t think it would be this hard to get it done.”