Developers make their case for 807 Broadway building

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March 27, 2013 // UPDATED 4:38 pm - March 27, 2013
By: Ben Johnson
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Ben Johnson

Hundreds of Northeast residents packed the Logan Park gym on March 20 to watch presentations from each of the seven developers vying for the 807 Broadway building.

The meeting was organized and run by the 807 Broadway Task Force, a grassroots community group dedicated to making sure neighborhood residents have a say in choosing a developer for the site. Each developer got 10 minutes to make their case to the community. Their presentations were followed by remarks from City Council Member Kevin Reich (1st Ward) and a 25-minute question-and-answer session with Reich and a representative from Minneapolis Public Schools, the city's Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) department and each developer.

Sherman Associates, Domain Architecture, and Greco Real Estate Development presented mixed-use developments. Sherman touted its ample experience in mixed-use rehabilitation projects. They have completed over 100 projects in Minneapolis and invested over $200 million on their developments just in the last year. Representatives from Sherman envisioned a building similar to the Midtown Exchange, which they successfully renovated in the Phillips neighborhood in 2006. Overall they plan to build 118 housing units and provide 82,000-square-feet of commercial space.

Domain presented a community-friendly, sustainable plan. Their proposal included a dog run, sculpture garden and amphitheater on the grounds, and a green house and fitness center on the fourth floor available for residents of their development. A restaurant and an art gallery were also included in the plans. Greco was the last presenter, and their proposal had 116 market rate apartments, 34 live/work apartments, and 50,000 square feet of commercial space.

Hillcrest Development was the only developer that did not present a specific plan. Instead they took a no-nonsense approach, citing their sterling reputation with the city and their solid relationships with the Nicollet Island/East Bank, Marcy Holmes, and Northeast Park neighborhood associations.

“A lot of people might stand up here and tell you what you want to hear, but it comes down to results,” said Scott Takenoff, managing partner with Hillcrest. “We do not over-promise and under-deliver.”

Dominium's proposal was almost entirely residential, containing 160 affordable housing units priced from $700-$1,100 per month. They also had plans for seven to 14 artist live/work spaces. Dominium has long been considered a front-runner because they plan on using low-income tax credits, which should allow them to place a higher bid than the other developers. 

Owen Metz, a senior development associate with Dominium, acknowledged that his plan was not the most popular with the community, but he argued that modern, low-cost housing would attract and retain a young, creative class that could help prevent the gentrification of Northeast.

Kremer and Young enjoyed strong support from their current tenants and fans of their work in the of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. Their proposal, entitled “Lampworks,” was interrupted frequently by the cheers and applause from the audience as their supporters held aloft painted light bulbs. Kremer and Young own many buildings in the Arts District, including the Casket Arts building, the California Arts building and the Ritz Theater.

The Lampworks complex is 100 percent commercial and would house a public arts education center, a large events center, and 80 artist studios.

First and First had a proposal similar to Kremer and Young, but with an emphasis on attracting tech companies instead of art studios. Peter Remes, founder of First and First, said his proposal would create 600 jobs in the area.

His plans called for tearing down three of the five buildings on site. The main building would be renovated into 140,000 square feet of office space, a side building would become a restaurant, and the space freed up by the demolitions would become a large public plaza, similar to the Ice House Plaza and the planned amphitheater across the street at The Broadway.

The 807 Broadway Task Force has decided to support First and First, Kremer and Young, and Hillcrest's proposals, citing their commitment to providing jobs in the community.

CPED has compiled information on all of the proposals – financial considerations, community impact, environmental concerns, etc – and will turn in a report on every proposal to members of the Minneapolis School Board at the end of March. After that the school board will take some time to review the reports before voting to choose developer.

The decision could come as soon as mid-April, but will most likely happen sometime this summer.

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