New apartment could hit Prospect Park

The complex’s designers hope construction can begin in the spring.

Nick Wicker

Two  new student luxury apartment complexes opened their doors to the University of Minnesota community this fall, and another could start construction this spring.
Plans for a six-story  apartment in the Prospect  Park area are in the works, but after receiving feedback from city officials Thursday , developers will have to change the building’s shape and size before moving forward with demolition and construction.
The building’s designers want to break ground this spring, but some city leaders doubt they’ll meet that timeline.
Elsey Partners , LLC, a development firm based in out of Kansas, has been working through the city approval process for the $30  million, 454 -bedroom apartment building on 27th Street Southeast  since mid-August . 
The developers have been eyeing the University area for about a year, and owner Chris Elsey  said they’re eager to move forward.
“I just think the city of Minneapolis is kind of a dynamic Midwest city, and certainly the enrollment at the University there was a big part of it,” he said. 
But because the building is longer than most surrounding complexes, stretching approximately 700 feet from end-to-end, Minneapolis Land Use, design and preservation manager Jason Whittenberg  said the design will have to be altered before it can be approved by the City Council.
“It’s just sort of visually stark,” he said. “Regulations that the planning commission has to judge these by suggest that larger buildings should be broken up into sort of smaller identifiable masses.”
Elsey said adapting his plans to city and neighborhood regulations won’t deter him from moving forward.
Because his company designs, builds and manages all of their properties, he said they can provide students with luxury features  at lower rental rates than other similar complexes. 
“We feel like we can offer a good kind of luxury product at a more competitive price, …” Elsey said.
The Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association  will review plans for the complex in October, he said.   
At first, the plan included street-side shops and restaurants, Elsey said, but the first round of city revisions in August  recommended removing that part of the plan. 
“This one is purely a residential building,” Whittenberg said. “Given its location that isn’t on any of the corridors like Washington [Avenue Southeast] or University [Avenue Southeast], it would be a little bit more of a challenge to make that retail work.” 
Senior City Planner Aaron Hanauer  said the the team will need to make additional changes before the site’s current building could be demolished, which he said could take up to half a year. 
Whittenberg said the plan will either go back to the Minneapolis Planning Commission’s Committee of the Whole for further review, or will be presented to city residents in a public hearing.
“I guess the ball is in their court,” he said. “And we’ll see how responsive their revisions are to [Thursday’s] comments.”