Contentious St. Anthony Main project gains approval

The developers are set to start construction in 2021 on 360 market-rate apartments.

Courtesy of ESG Architecture & Design.

Courtesy of ESG Architecture & Design.

Lydia Morrell, City Reporter

After several years and a lawsuit about the 200 Central Ave. SE development, the Minneapolis Planning Commission approved the latest version last month with twice as many units and less parking.

Despite mixed responses from residents, the commission approved the project, leaving only parking variances up for debate. The developer plans to move ahead on construction in late 2021.

Minneapolis-based developer Alatus announced the cancellation of its Marcy-Holmes condos project in 2019, instead looking into rental units. Alatus still owns the land and will contribute as co-developer with CRG for the project, formerly called the Alia condos.

The project will be a 28-story building with 360 market-rate apartment units and 3,800 square feet of commercial space. Four years ago, Alatus originally planned for more than 200 condos that would stretch 42 stories tall, a height that some residents did not want in the historic St. Anthony Main area.

“The currently approved plan is short while still offering the same street level aesthetic to compliment the historic Pillsbury Library but a type-one tower that will be unlike any other currently in the Twin Cities market,” Chris Osmundson, Alatus director of development, said in an email.

The planning commission approved the developer’s request to downsize car parking from 238 to 222 spaces at the Jan. 25 meeting.

“We’re looking at a number of sustainable design strategies,” Gretchen Camp, an architect with ESG Architecture & Design, said at the meeting. “One of those strategies is actually to utilize the adjacent parking ramp, and that’s why we’re asking for the vehicle parking reduction.”

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association (MHNA) wrote a letter of support for the Alatus condos years ago. MHNA director Chris Lautenschlager said the project offered community benefits like improving the streetscape, but some nearby residents were against it regardless.

Lautenschlager said the neighborhood would have liked it if the current project offered those same amenities.

Car and bike parking spots and electric vehicle charging stations were the only items up for debate with the city. The developers agreed to keep 463 bike parking spots and amended the application to include 10 electric vehicle charging stations, satisfying MHNA’s goals for a green project, Lautenschlager said.

However, not all area residents were satisfied. A few voiced concerns about the easy path forward for the newest iteration of the project, despite the past lawsuit. Neighbors for East Bank Livability had filed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis for approving the tower’s height in 2016, which successfully slowed Alatus from moving forward on the project.

The appeal was later denied by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

“We worked hard to point out the inconsistencies of the project that was on the table in 2016 about how out-of-sync with the historic district that the 42-story tower was, this is no different,” Jeff Wright, treasurer for the Neighbors for East Bank Livability group, said at the planning commission meeting. “How long is this project going to continue to be viable?”

J.J. Smith, developer with CRG, said all that is left is design work, filing for permits and closing on financing before they plan to start construction in the second half of 2021.