Grad students targeted for new apartments

The four-story building on University Avenue Southeast should open August 2014.

by Marion Renault

A new housing development breaking ground this fall will be geared toward University of Minnesota graduate students and young professionals.

The yet-unnamed four-story, 40-unit building along University Avenue Southeast is set to open for fall semester of 2014.

Because of its location west of Interstate 35W and across the street from Santana Foods, the apartment complex is the perfect location for older students, said Alan Hupp, whose company Hupp Holdings is developing the project.

“Our sense is that perhaps younger students want to be a little more campus-centric, campus-driven,” he said. “Older students will appreciate having one foot on campus and one foot a little more towards the city.”

Katie Reed, a public policy graduate student, said distance from the University factored in her choice of housing.

“When I was an undergrad I didn’t drive, so I was looking for something a little bit closer,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t want to live in Dinkytown now where it’s like mostly undergrads; it’s sort of a different vibe.”

Reed said she wouldn’t necessarily find the University Avenue project attractive, given the price range of new apartments.

The development will house a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments, which will also attract a mature clientele, Hupp said.

Hupp Holdings is planning to work with the Xcel Energy Design Assistance program to incorporate environmentally friendly features into the project; alternative energies, solar panels and grass coverings are among the considerations for sustainable features.

The apartments within the building will be small, Hupp said, mimicking the compact units popular on the East and West Coast.

“We haven’t seen a lot of examples of that in this market,” he said.

The developer has been working closely with the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, whose board unanimously approved the project at a recent meeting.

Arvonne Fraser, former MHNA vice president, said a focus on providing graduate student housing is forthcoming.

“I think some people are beginning to understand that we may be overbuilt for undergraduates or getting close to it,” she said. “We need to get more staff and … faculty in the neighborhood.”

Marcy-Holmes houses a large population of undergraduate students, she said, and would like to see a greater variety of residents.

“It’s not that we dislike students; it’s that we like diversity,” Fraser said. “Almost any neighborhood that is just one group of people I think is not so good for a city.”

Older students and young professionals would be more committed to the neighborhood, she said.

“Undergraduates come for four to six years and then leave,” Fraser said. “You need people … who have a stake in the neighborhood who are longer-term, and longer-term residents tend to care more not only about their own neighborhood but the whole city.”

The building currently on the project site was first built in the 1860s, toward the end of the Civil War, and has since served a number of commercial and residential uses.

In December, the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission ruled the building had no historical significance and could be demolished to make way for the Hupp project.

“It didn’t lend itself to being rehabbed or modified, and [we deemed] that truly the best use would be to replace it and redevelop that location with a modern building,” said John Smoley, Minneapolis city planner.

The demolition of older buildings to make way for new projects is not unusual, he said.

“We have a lot of older housing stock that has been … converted into apartments,” Smoley said. “You see that all over the
University area.”