Massive apt. complex slated for Prospect Park

Alida Tieberg

Plans for another luxury apartment complex near the University of Minnesota are making their way through the city’s approval process.
 
The City Planning Commission reviewed a proposal Monday for constructing a new complex, called Brickhouse Lofts. Developers and city officials say it will cater to a largely untapped demographic in the area.
 
If approved, the apartment would likely be the third complex with more than 300 units near the University.
 
For the project, developing company Maxwell Ventures plans to convert two vacant Prospect Park buildings along Essex Street and 26th Avenue Southeast — blocks from another in-progress luxury giant, WaHu — into one large complex.
 
Managing Partner at Maxwell Ventures Pat Smith said the building is expected to attract University faculty, graduate students and other residents between the ages of 25 and 70, rather than the traditional undergraduate target market.
 
“We think the market we’re going after will appreciate the uniqueness of this project,” Smith said
 
 
Most of the apartment’s 315 units would have one or two bedrooms with 14-foot ceilings, concrete floors and large, grated windows, Smith said. The building would include 480 bedrooms.
 
Because the developers are working on existing buildings rather than building from the ground up, the project’s developers and architects said they are struggling to meet some of the city’s guidelines.
 
City officials recommended adding lights along the area’s streets and improving the landscape near the building at a city committee meeting last month, said the project’s lead architect, David Kelly. 
 
The area where the project is planned to go sits at a slant along the sidewalk — one end dips below the ground, and the other is about six feet above. Kelly said the inconsistent elevation makes it difficult for developers to add spaces, like coffee shops and meeting rooms, on the first floor, which city officials have requested.
 
Senior Planner for the complex, Kimberly Holien, said in order to give planners more time to meet the city’s recommendations, the project won’t move forward until 
April 27, when city staff will host a public hearing.
 
As the influx of large luxury apartments in the area continues, some say the housing bubble could soon burst.
 
Principal City Planner of Minneapolis Haila Maze said when complexes like Brickhouse Lofts are presented to her, she questions whether they are necessary. 
s“Pretty much any available site near campus … if it hasn’t been built upon, it’s been seriously considered [for housing development,]” Maze said. 
If the City Council approves the plan, the complex is expected to open in spring 2016, Kelly said.