Plans for 412 Lofts move forward

Construction of the upscale housing will begin mid-August.

Plans for 412 Lofts move forward

Katherine Lymn

Those who didn’t get a spot in Sydney Hall Residences this fall will have another chance to live in a Doran Companies building next year when the developer will complete the jarringly similar 412 Lofts just blocks away.
Full City Council approval for the 412 Lofts apartment complex, which will occupy the lot at 4th Street Southeast and 12th Avenue Southeast, is expected this Friday, and construction will begin next month, said Kelly Doran, owner of Doran Companies.
Pre-demolition work of the Heart of the Earth School, which closed in 2008 and currently resides on the future Lofts lot, will commence in the beginning of August, Doran said. This includes the removal of environmental contaminants like lead paint and asbestos.
The other building in the lot, the Frey Mansion, will be converted into a Native American cultural center. Doran Companies is not currently involved in this renovation, Doran said.
Full demolition of the school will take place mid-August and will last seven to 10 days, Doran said.
Immediately after, the developers will get to work on construction.
The developer is not the only thing the two complexes will have in common.
Apartments at 412 Lofts will be very similar “in size and in nature and quality” to those at Sydney Hall Residences, Doran said. The company saw a niche for upscale student housing with Sydney Hall, Doran said, which became evident in the leasing of all of its 125 units.
Doran has heard no complaints about Sydney Hall from the first group of renters who toured their future apartments, and he hopes this will guarantee confidence with 412 Lofts.
“What Sydney Hall did,” he said, “is it showed people what we put on paper was an accurate reflection of what’s going to get built.”
Jim LaValle, vice president of development for Doran Companies, said neighborhood and business community reaction was mostly positive, with a few suggestions.
Dinkytown Business Association members received information on the development at their June meeting, and little objection has been voiced since, said DBA President Skott Johnson.
“Indirectly they’ll benefit from more people in the neighborhood and [in] close proximity to Dinkytown,” LaValle said.
The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association  is also in support of providing “safe and well-managed facilities that are close to campus,” MHNA Executive Director Melissa Bean said.
But the association is also supportive of having residents other than University of Minnesota students living in the community, and the smaller units in 412 Lofts will allow that, she said.
The 102-unit building will feature a mix of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
LaValle said the MHNA had a series of suggestions for the design of the building; most were taken into consideration.
“They had indicated some areas where, rightfully so, the design could have been improved,” he said, “and we agreed with that.”
When Doran Companies sought a smaller parking spot minimum than the city requirement, the MHNA voiced concern, and the developers rescinded the request, LaValle said.
The MHNA was concerned that a lack of spots near the development would lead to parking bleeding out into the neighborhoods, LaValle said.
Altogether, 412 Lofts is facing less controversy than the Sydney Hall building did.
Sydney Hall was originally planned to be as tall as 14 stories, but neighborhood concerns and finances led Doran Companies to downsize it to its current six stories, LaValle said. With 412 Lofts, however, “five stories was the plan all along,” he said.
In the meantime, Doran Companies is finishing up its Sydney Hall development at University Avenue Southeast and 15th Street Southeast.
While finishing moving in appliances and doing last-minute touchups, the city has been dropping by for its final inspections and signoffs last week and through this week, Doran said.
CVS/pharmacy — in the street level of the Sydney Hall — will also be completed in time for fall semester, he said.