Community notebook // Opus set to break ground on 26-story apartment tower on Nicollet

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December 3, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Ben Johnson and Sarah McKenzie
Ben Johnson and Sarah McKenzie

NICOLLET MALL — Opus Development Corp. is moving forward with construction of its new luxury apartment tower — The Nic on Fifth.

The 26-story tower will have 253 units, including 26 penthouses, at 5th & Nicollet, according to a news release on the project. It will go up next to the new Xcel Energy building Opus is also developing.

“With the financing secured, Opus is thrilled to begin work on The Nic on Fifth. Minneapolis is definitely a ‘top-tier’ city for both equity investors and lenders,” said Dave Menke, senior vice president and general manager of Opus Development Corp.

Opus also plans to pursue a LEED certification for the project. Like many other apartment projects in the works, the developer is touting a lot of high-end amenities, including a 24/7 door attendant and concierge service, outdoor roof terrace with pool and spa, yoga studio, outdoor fire pit and a dog play area. It will also be connected to the skyway system.

The building is expected to be ready for tenants by summer 2014.

Developers involved in the project were also involved in the 39-story Carlyle and 27-story Grant Park condo projects. Opus is also working on another apartment development in the North Loop called Velo Apartments — a proposal for 106 apartments at 103 N. 2nd St.

Apartments in the works for Ceresota building 

MILL DISTRICT — A plan to convert the historic Ceresota building from commercial offices to an apartment complex is moving forward.

Architect Ken Piper, from Tanek Inc. and building owner Ross Dworsky presented to the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA) on Nov. 13 and the DMNA passed a motion to provide a letter of support to the city for the project.

“We’re going to be in front of the planning commission in a couple of weeks, and, pending approval, we’ll start to see things fall into place,” said Piper.

The Ceresota building at 155 5th Ave. S. was originally built in 1908 as a public grain elevator for the Northwestern Consolidated Grain Company. The 165-foot tall structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was converted into commercial offices in 1987. Today most of the Ceresota Building’s 92,081 square feet of office space sits vacant.

Earlier this month Marquette Advisors reported an extremely low 2.8 percent apartment vacancy rate across the Twin Cities, so despite a surge in newly constructed and planned apartment buildings, demand remains high.

The early plans for the conversion call for 117 studio and one-bedroom apartments. In addition to the historical significance of the site, Piper pointed out that its location seems prime for an urban residential population.

“The location of the Ceresota Building and its access to the Stone Arch Bridge, the trail systems, to the Guthrie, and just that vibrant part of downtown, as well as the central business district, I think it really lends itself to contributing to the residential base of the growing downtown,” Piper said.

Affordable housing proposed for Mill District 

MILL DISTRICT — A new affordable housing development has been proposed for 300 2nd St. in the Mill District — a lot next to the RiverWest condos. 

Eagle Iron Partners, a joint venture of Wall Companies and Lupe Development, are working on the project known as the Mill City Quarter.

The development would have 130 to 150 apartments for people with incomes between 40 and 60 percent of the area median income, said Steve Minn, a principal at Lupe Development.

The development team behind the project has showed off plans to the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association and Mill District neighborhood leaders.  

After gathering feedback from neighbors and other community leaders, the developers plan on engaging with city planning staff on the proposal early next year, Minn said. If things go smoothly, they hope to break ground by the end of 2013.

Eagle Iron Partners are also working on a second phase for the Mill City Quarter project — a senior/memory care assisted living facility for seniors. They are looking at around 130 units for that project. No timeline has been set for the second phase yet.

Bryn Mawr considers memorial for Accent Signage victims

BRYN MAWR — The Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association is in the early stages of planning a memorial to honor the victims of the Sept. 27 workplace shooting at Accent Signage Systems.

Options include a garden or monument on parkland adjacent to the business at 2322 W. Chestnut Ave. or some other type of memorial near the intersection of Penn Avenue and Cedar Lake Road, a small commercial node residents refer to as “downtown Bryn Mawr.” A small group of neighborhood volunteers is also considering a gathering to honor the victims next summer.

“We’re of the mind this is unfortunately and tragically one of the most significant events in Bryn Mawr, probably ever,” said Kristin Markert, one of the volunteers on the project, during a Nov. 14 presentation to the neighborhood association.

Six people died in the shooting, including the gunman, 36-year-old Andrew Engledinger, who opened fire when he was told he’d lost his job and eventually turned the gun on himself. 

Neighborhood association President Marlin Possehl said Shereen Rahamim expressed interest in some type of memorial to him during a funding event for the victims. Rahamim is the widow of Accent Signage Systems founder Reuven Rahamim, who was among those shot and killed by Engledinger.

More than $16 million raised on Give to the Max Day 

Donors raised nearly $16.4 million on Give to the Max Day on Nov. 15 — breaking previous records for the 24-hour online fundraiser for Minnesota nonprofits.

More than 53,000 donated money for 4,381 nonprofits and schools, according to event organizers.

The 2011 Give to the Max Day had 47,534 donors raising $13.4 million.

Four organizations were also awarded an additional $12,500 for receiving the most donations in their respective categories: Cretin-Derham Hall, Shir Tikvah Congregation, White Dove Foundation and St. Olaf College.

One school and one nonprofit were also randomly selected each hour to receive the “Golden Ticket,” which added another $1,000 to its donations.

“People across our state know that when we all pitch in, great things happen,” said Dana Nelson, executive director of GiveMN. “Give to the Max Day has become a celebration of Minnesota’s philanthropic spirit and nonprofits have done an excellent job of embracing that day.”

The first Give to the Max Day was created three years through a partnership between GiveMN and Razoo, an online-fundraising platform based in Washington, D.C.

Biden honors outreach worker for The Bridge 

Vice President Joe Biden recently honored a local  outreach worker as an emerging leader of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. 

Kristan Clow, youth and community outreach manager at The Bridge For Youth, attended a barbeque this fall at Biden’s home, which is a mansion on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Ninety honorees toured the White House and discussed issues like the AIDs epidemic and foreign persecution.

“They talked about what the U.S. is doing to help individuals get aid in countries where they are persecuted,” Clow said. “It put a whole new perspective on things. ... You can get drug out of your house and lynched in the street for being gay.”

Clow discussed her work with Biden’s wife, Jill. She explained that The Bridge provides housing and transportation to LGBT students who are kicked out of the house, guaranteeing they can attend their original schools. The Bridge for Youth is currently ramping up outreach to Minneapolis Public Schools.

“[Jill] talked a lot about the bravery and courage it takes to live authentically,” Clow said. “She was thanking us for the hard work we do. She said we make the world a better place by being out.” 

Walker Art Center planning renovations 

LOWRY HILL — The Walker Art Center is planning improvements to its building, an adjacent green space and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, with repair work on the museum building to begin in February.

The Walker, among the leading venues for contemporary art and performance in the nation, aims to develop a “unified vision” for its campus, according to a press release from the museum. The planning process began in 2009 and was led by James Dayton, a museum trustee and principal architect at Minneapolis-based James Dayton Design who is currently serving as president of the museum’s board.

Resurfacing of the museum’s original, 1971 brick façade begins in February. A metal-clad expansion of the museum, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, opened in 2005, but the façade of the older part of the building, designed by Edward Larabee James, is now in need of “extensive repair due to deterioration of its surface,” according to the announcement.

The renovations are scheduled for completion in December 2013. The museum will remain open and accessible to the public during the repair work.

Meanwhile, plans for the museum’s four-acre green space, site of the Open Field summer program, and the sculpture garden, are still under development.

According to the museum, the sculpture garden is in need of significant improvements after nearly 25 years of use. The garden is jointly operated with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and both organizations continue to seek the funding for new plantings and energy efficiency improvements.

A new Jim Hodges sculpture of four boulders covered in brightly colored, glossy stainless steel appeared on the green space next to the Walker this summer. The hill beside the museum is also home to James Turrell’s “Sky Pesher,” installed in 2005.

The hill remains largely undeveloped and open, and according to the Walker any plans for the space will ensure it remains available for flexible programming, including the Open Field program and the museum’s annual Rock the Garden concert.

Public meeting for Washington Avenue reconstruction

There will be a meeting Dec. 4 at Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., from 5–7 p.m. to get briefed on the upcoming reconstruction of Washington Avenue.

Hennepin County is working with the city of Minneapolis on a project to reconstruct Washington between Hennepin and 5th Avenue South. Construction is expected to start in the middle of 2014.

At the Dec. 4 meeting, people will have a chance to learn about existing uses and challenges facing the stretch of Washington and comment on new ideas for the street. Another meeting is planned for early 2013 to go over design features.

The goal is to make the street safer and more beautiful for pedestrians, bikers and motorists.

For more details, go to and search for “Road 152 Washington Avenue.” The site has an overview of the proposed project and a link to subscribe to updates.

New community project will create book about life in NE

There is a new project underway called the Northeast Life Size Book Project that will give residents a chance to help make an art book that will have a permanent home at the Northeast Library, 2200 Central Ave. NE.

There are four upcoming workshops on Saturdays, 1–3 p.m., for people interested in participating:

Jan. 26, Northeast Library;

Feb. 2, Edison High School, 700 22nd Ave. NE;

Feb. 9, Edison High School

Feb. 16, Northeast Library.

Those who attend will get a chance to make a small book and contribute to the Northeast Life Size Book.

For more details on the project, go to

Got a news tip? Email Journal editor Sarah McKenzie at