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Proposed Dinkytown development scraps 25-story proposal for shorter option

The plan will likely go to the city for approval by the end of the year.
Courtesy of CA Ventures.
Courtesy of CA Ventures.

A large-scale development originally proposed to be 25 stories in Dinkytown has now been slashed to 10.

Developer CA Ventures, in partnership with ESG Architects, announced at a Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association meeting Tuesday that it has submitted plans for a 10-story building, a project originally slated for either 25 or 16 stories. City officials will review the project Thursday, and a final plan will seek city approval by the end of the year. 

The project proved controversial when first introduced in August, with community members raising concerns about high density, affordability and the closure of on-site businesses like McDonald’s and Dinkytown Wine and Spirits. Ryan Sadowy, senior director of development at CA Ventures, said he crafted the new plans in response to some of these issues. 

“It’s already getting a lot of good momentum,” he said.

The new plan calls for about 300 units and 881 bedrooms compared to between 350 and 370 units and 1,000 bedrooms in the original plan, according to the application submitted to the City.

“We really got everyone together and sharpened our pencils about what we could do,” Sadowy said. 

New community benefits include raised bike lanes to avoid traffic conflicts, an integrated drop-off area and landscaped sidewalks with a large public plaza. 

The building will be nine stories along 4th Street Southeast and 10 stories along 5th Street Southeast. The application states that the 4th Street Southeast side of the building is shorter to better align with the guidelines of the nearby Dinkytown Historic District, which typically caps buildings at two stories.

“I’m greatly relieved that it’s [fewer] stories, but on the other hand … 10 stories would blow it out of the water,” said Kristen Eide-Tollefson, coordinator for Preserve Historic Dinkytown.

Jessie Ernster, a University of Minnesota student who has attended a past neighborhood meeting on the topic, said she likes the shorter size.

“They’ve been open to [community input], especially having the forums,” she said.

While the amended proposal comes with new community benefits, neighborhood residents said it’s still not enough. 

“Show us something that is absolutely, substantively and permanently going to improve the community that would justify the increased density,” said Marcy-Holmes resident Cordelia Pierson during the meeting.

Questions ranging from affordability specifics to commercial space plans were also at the height of Tuesday’s discussions.

Sadowy reiterated the plan to include affordable units in the project at the meeting. 

How affordability will cater to students, the number of units and the price of the units have not yet been indicated. Neil Reardon, project manager at ESG Architects, also said at the meeting that the non-affordable units would be priced at market rate in line with other recent developments. 

Community members voiced a desire for a grocery store under the development and concerns about insufficient parking. 

“I’m really looking forward to what their commercial plan is, what the layout is, what the opportunities are,” Eide-Tollefson said.

Sadowy said he has reached out to multiple grocery stores but most have declined. Of the project’s total 211 parking spots, 20 will be reserved for commercial patrons. Many community members said this was too low. 

Eide-Tollefson said she doesn’t think the community is being unreasonable, but pushing the developer to address concerns is important. 

“This is Dinkytown’s last chance, this is not something we can redo,” she said.

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