Apartment building boom gains steam

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November 5, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

A Chicago developer has finally broken ground on a 36-story apartment tower in Loring Park after years of planning.  

An illustration for the $100 million-plus project suggests it will be a sleek glassy tower a couple of blocks from Loring Park. It’s the largest residential project planned for the downtown area.

The high-rise at 1369 Spruce Place will have 354 apartments and be loaded with amenities for residents, including a fitness center, pool, hot tub, and a private in-building dog run with a washing station, among other things, according to a news release from Magellan Development. 

The tower will also have 18,000 square feet of commercial space on its first floor. 

There is no name for the project yet. It’s scheduled to open the summer of 2014, said Brian Gordon, vice president of Magellan. 

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) had high praise for Magellan’s project.

“What a great opportunity to add housing to the Loring Park neighborhood downtown, just at a time the vacancy rate is at an all time low,” she said. “This is a beautifully designed building that will add to the skyline as well as adding much needed construction jobs in a great location. I’m thrilled this long awaited project is financed and about to start construction.”

John Van Heel, a board member of the neighborhood group Citizens for a Loring Park Community (CLPC), said many of the residents he’s talked to are supportive of the project. 

Van Heel was chair of CLPC’s land use committee when Magellan went through the development review process. “By and large, people thought it was an exciting project,” he said.

He said Magellan has worked with neighborhood leaders to address concerns about parking and traffic problems in the area. There are plans for two HOURCARs — the neighborhood car-sharing vehicles and arrangements for the development’s tenants to lease space in nearby parking lots if there isn’t enough space in onsite parking at the tower.

Van Heel said he’s hopeful the project will spark other development in the neighborhood, including on Nicollet, which has seen a lot of business turnover in recent years.

Neil Reardon, another CLPC board member, said he hopes Magellan finds a good tenant for the retail space at street level. 

He said he’s also pleased that the apartment tower is finally moving forward. “A surface parking lot wasn’t the best use there,” he said of the project site. 

David Carlins, president of Magellan Development, said the tower will be designed to achieve LEED certification.

The road to breaking ground on the project has been a long one for Magellan. It originally pitched a plan for a condo tower in 2005, but ditched that plan after the market for condos tanked. 

Magellan’s new tower will be a major new landmark in the neighborhood and the tallest apartment building in the area. 

Other apartment developments under construction in the neighborhood include developer Brad Hoyt’s 119-unit apartment project at 401 Oak Grove called the Vue. The seven-story building is scheduled to be ready for tenants early 2013. 

Nearby, the 430 Oak Grove building is undergoing a transformation to make way for apartments. The 1920s-era building facing Loring Park was an office building and soon will be home to 75 high-end apartments. Construction on 430 Oak Grove is expected to wrap up by year’s end. 

Housing proposed for former Totino’s site, Greystar eyes Superior Plating parcel

In other development news, Northeast-based developer Schafer Richardson is planning a residential development at the site formerly home to Totino’s Pizza. 

The former restaurant at 519 Central Ave. NE would be torn down to make way for the project if it moves forward.

Hillcrest Development, another Northeast-based developer, purchased the old Totino’s site in 2011. It’s in negotiations with Schafer Richardson to sell the company the site, said Scott Tankenoff, principal of Hillcrest.

“This is a really important part of Minneapolis,” Tankenoff said, adding a new project on the corner could help spark other redevelopment in the area.

Kit Richardson, a Schafer Richardson principal, said the developer is trying to secure a grant to help cleanup the site before moving ahead with the project. If the funds are secured, construction could start next summer.

The developer is working on a proposal calling for about 100 apartments and 14,000 to 16,000 square feet of retail at street level.

Schafer Richardson is behind many of the condo and apartment developments in the North Loop neighborhood. 

City officials decided the Totino’s restaurant wasn’t worth preserving despite the pleas of some in the neighborhood who wanted it saved to honor the restaurant’s unique past. 

Totino’s closed in 2007 after 50 years in business in the neighborhood. The famous frozen pizzas were first sold out of the Central restaurant and then the brand was later sold to Pillsbury.

Nearby, Greystar, a large nationwide apartment developer, is eyeing the Superior Plating site, according to neighborhood leaders. The former factory at 315 1st Ave. NE has long been eyed as potential redevelopment site for new housing. The current owner of the site, City Center Realty Partners, had applied for city cleanup funds to redevelop the property long home to the metal finishing factory, but was rejected. 

Superior Plating Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year ago after more than 90 years in business.  

The apartment boom underway in the downtown area will bring thousands of new residents to the city’s core in the next few years.