Near-campus housing projects stall, downsize in economic recession

Projects including Sydney Hall and a West Bank housing development project have experienced delays and changes because of financial obstacles.

While the new Northstar Lofts in Dinkytown are opening in time for school start this fall, other off campus housing developments have had to make changes to adapt to a down market. Development on Sydney Hall, an apartment complex slated to go in the parking lot behind the Dinkydome, has downsized in response to the economy, while work on a complex on the former West Bank site of GrandmaâÄôs Restaurant has halted until the project can secure financial backing. Sydney Hall What began as the $60 million development of a 12-story housing and retail complex connected to the Dinkydome has now scaled down in order to stick to the original opening date in the fall of 2010, said project general contractor Kelly Doran, of Doran Companies. These downsizes include cutting the complex down from 12 stories to 5, or about 214 units to 125 units. Sydney HallâÄôs units will range from studios to 4-bedrooms, with the complex connecting to a refurbished Dinkydome. The bottom level will house retail, including Erberts and Gerberts, who closed its doors in October to make way for development. However, Caribou Coffee, who also closed in October, opted to not return to the area after development, despite original plans to move into the development. Caribou Coffee representatives would not comment on their decision to not return to the area. Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association, said that while Erberts and Gerberts and Caribou Coffee both have locations in Stadium Village that can attract the student population, many businesses formerly located on the second floor of the Dinkydome had to close their doors and will not reopen after the development, including Espresso 22. âÄúOur concern as the Business Association was with the people who were already working there,âÄù Johnson said. âÄúA lot of the businesses are one of a kind in Dinkytown; there are not as many franchises, so if you lose a business it can destroy you.âÄù Doran said many of the businessesâÄô licenses expired or were bought out by Doran during the early development. Doran is bringing an application to downsize the project to the Minneapolis Planning Commission on July 13. Doran would not comment on how much the cost of the project has been cut from the original $60 million, but said the company has obtained the financing needed for the downsized project. West Bank housing development The city approved plans in November for the development of a new apartment complex at the former GrandmaâÄôs Saloon & Grill l ocation on the West Bank. But work on the yet unnamed property located from 1800 to 1814 Washington Ave. S has stalled in a âÄúfrustratingâÄù financial market, David Hunt, project manager for Alatus, the managing partner for the project, said. The proposed complex will stretch up about 25 stories with 360 units and an area for retail on the bottom floor and will target graduate students, Hunt said. The project, which was originally scheduled to open in fall 2010, will be pushed back at least a year as the developers still need to secure about $25 million on the $80 million project, Hunt said. âÄúThere are a limited number of people that can put down $20 to $25 million down on a project,âÄù Hunt said. If finances can be secured in the next few months, the project could open in time for school to start in 2011, Hunt said. If not, the project will be pushed back until the fall of 2012. Northstar Lofts The Northstar Lofts, which will open in time for the 2009 school year, is one project that made it through the development process to completion before the economic slump hit, Greg Jansma, owner of the complex said. âÄúOur financing went into place when times were better while some of these guys have only come in months behind,âÄù Jansma said. The lofts, located in two renovated buildings next to the Bierman Field Athletic Building, are almost completely leased out for fall 2009, Jansma said.