The Lodge fraternity sues city, Doran

The Northwestern Chi Psi Educational Foundation, Inc. âÄî which owns the Chi Psi fraternity house on University Avenue âÄî is in an ongoing lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and Doran Companies over issues surrounding the development of Sydney Hall in Dinkytown. Chi Psi âÄî commonly known as The Lodge âÄî is located at 1515 University Ave., adjacent to the Dinkydome and the future location of Sydney Hall. In the lawsuit, Chi Psi alleges that the city acted arbitrarily and outside its own ordinances when it approved the development. The lawsuit also calls for a stop to all construction on the project. The lawyer for Chi Psi, Ryan Ahlberg, said DoranâÄôs Sydney Hall project should never have been approved. DoranâÄôs Vice President of Development, Jim LaValle, said the company is working with the fraternity on a settlement, which would involve a redesign. In a request for admissions from the city, Chi Psi says that City Council members Lisa Goodman and Diane Hofstede both said DoranâÄôs appeal of the land-use application would pass, prior to the hearing. Ahlberg said Chi Psi already has to deal with dust and the driveway constantly being blocked, and the project is still not in full swing. He added that these problems can be addressed and are to be expected with any construction. Chi Psi also has concerns about the height of the building. LaValle said Doran has approval for a 12-story apartment building, but are in discussions about making it 14 stories. Ahlberg said the development is too large in scope for the location. âÄúPeople like to think that this is a sweet, Midwestern city, but this land use project and development is a lot more like Chicago,âÄù Ahlberg said. The UniversityâÄôs Director of Real Estate, Susan Weinberg , said the University sold its portion of the Sydney Hall âÄúfootprint,âÄù the parking lot at the site, to Doran because of its commitment to building professional and graduate student housing. She also said selling to Doran was the best use of that property because Doran had already purchased the surrounding buildings. However, Chi Psi is not alone in their concerns about the height of the building. âÄúThe University has always had concerns with the height. We felt that the decision-making with respect to the height was a neighborhood and city decision,âÄù Weinberg said. Ahlberg said there is not a neighborhood association that could make an appeal to the city since Sydney Hall would be within University neighborhood boundaries. He said Chi Psi, because of its location, is the only opposition to the city. He added that Doran is taking advantage of the city because the University already expressed its concerns about the height with the developer. Ahlberg said the city makes it seem like the University is fine with the size of the building. âÄúWe donâÄôt have hard feelings toward the developer, the cityâÄôs the bad guy,âÄù Ahlberg said. Ahlberg said the city has been withholding pertinent documents and correspondence related to the use of the land. In the cityâÄôs response to these claims, it said the withheld papers and files are irrelevant. âÄúIf the city can show all the documents, and they can still win, fine,âÄù Ahlberg said. Ahlberg said Chi Psi knows there will be development on that property at some point. âÄúAll we really want is to be happy with whatâÄôs going on next door,âÄù he said. Goodman, Hofstede and Zoning and Planning Committee chair Gary Schiff could not be reached for this story. The City AttorneyâÄôs Office declined to comment.