CSL Plasma could get more relocation options

The relocation process will likely delay a new 333-unit apartment complex.

by Kelsey Shirriff

A plasma collection center that has stalled construction of apartments near the University of Minnesota campus may soon find moving a little easier.

The Minneapolis planning commission approved a zoning amendment that would allow plasma centers to set up shop in more areas around the city. The CSL Plasma center, currently off University and Washington avenues, would have more options for relocation.

Last fall, developers purchased the property for the 333-unit WaHu apartment building. But plans hit a roadblock because CSL can’t move to any nearby site because of current zoning regulations.

“[CSL was] only allowed in the most highly intensive commercial zoning district, called C4,” said Cam Gordon, city councilman for the 2nd Ward. “I thought, well, maybe it’s inappropriate that they’re limited so much.”

Scott Newkirk, marketing director for CSL Plasma, said the business was supportive of the amendment.

The facility employs about 70 people, and representatives are looking at potential locations this week. Newkirk said he wants the center to stay near campus and transit lines.

“Our donors live within a five-mile radius of our
current facility,” Newkirk said. “So we’re looking for opportunities within that five miles.”

While finding a new space for the center may be easier for CSL, moving even five miles might pose a challenge for some donors.

Steven Christen, who donates plasma twice per week, said he might not come as often if the center moved farther north or east.

“It could [affect whether I donate],” he said. “I live over in south Minneapolis, and I bike usually.”

CPM Property Management, which has been assisting CSL Plasma in its search for a new home, plans to break ground on WaHu apartments as soon as the center moves. Daniel Oberpriller, owner of CPM, said the apartments would likely open in fall 2015.

“We’ve been struggling to find a location for the plasma center,” he said. “It’s been a painful process.”

Gun shops, tattoo parlors and pawnshops are the other businesses allowed in the district, and Gordon said he felt that the center should be classified more as a clinic.

CSL is the only plasma center in Minneapolis and collects about 300-400 donations each day. Donors can visit the center twice per week and are compensated for their plasma.

The amendment would allow the blood and plasma centers to be placed in an additional zoning district, OR3 (Institutional Office Residence district), opening up more potential locations.

“OR3 zoning is zoning that’s found on a lot of our larger campus areas — hospital campuses, clinic campuses,” said Kimberly Holien, a senior city planner. The zoning also allows for dense housing.

Riley Nornes, a history sophomore, said donating depends on whether the center is within biking or walking distance.

“It would definitely be very much about convenience,” he said.

Whether CSL Plasma can find an optimal new location or not, it has to move because its lease is up next April, Newkirk said.

“It has nothing to do with the current zoning,” he said. “We do need to find a new home for our current facility in Minneapolis.”

If approved by the zoning and planning committee next Thursday, the Minneapolis City Council will review the amendment May 10.