Development update: Architect pitches pathway that would circle Downtown

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August 3, 2009 // UPDATED 8:49 am - August 3, 2009
By: Michelle Bruch
Michelle Bruch
Ryan Kronzer, a local architect, is pitching an idea for a park-like boulevard that would wrap around the periphery of Downtown. The branded road for bikes and vehicles would primarily run along existing streets, and it would hit many of Downtown’s highlights, such as the Lyndale Farmers’ Market, Gold Medal Park, the Metrodome and the Basilica. The parkway would be lined with retail and distinctive street lighting.

“This has been on my shelf for years,” Kronzer said.

He said he is now working to build political momentum for the concept. So far he has gained at least one neighborhood ally. Elliot Park Neighborhood Inc. voted to support further study of the idea in June.

Lunds, Nicollet projects still in pipeline

Two high-profile construction projects are still on the books and waiting out the economy: a new Lunds grocery store on Hennepin Avenue, and The Nicollet, a high-rise that would be located on the mall.

Both development teams are trying to figure out what exactly they should build on land they own Downtown.

As part of the Lunds project, Bob Lux of Alatus LLC said he wants to build a 12-story, 200-unit apartment complex directly above Lunds at Hennepin and 11th Street. He is considering additional rental and senior housing for the rest of the site.

“Financing is still extremely difficult,” he said.

Lunds was originally slated for construction this fall, but Lux said the project doesn’t have a firm timeline now.  

Lunds officials have said they would model the site after another urban Lunds store at University and Central avenues.

As for The Nicollet, a project originally conceived as a 56-story condo building at 10th and Nicollet Mall, developers say they are still making progress. Developer Len Pratt said he couldn’t divulge much information, but the project will involve “names that you’ll recognize from the Twin Cities.” He said the developers are working to determine the right mix of retail, office and housing for a building “similar in scale” to the size they originally proposed, but perhaps “cut back a bit.”

“It’s not like things have been standing still,” he said, noting that he’s seen strong market acceptance for a mix of uses in a new tower.

“People would love to be able to live on that corner, they would love to be able to have some retail exposure on that corner and they would love to be able to office on that corner,” he said.

A new deal with developer Aeon

Elliot Park Neighborhood Inc. has a new agreement in place with Aeon, the developer planning to expand the Alliance Apartments at 719 E. 16th St.

The new construction will provide sober housing for the homeless, and the neighborhood agreement addresses concerns about a growing concentration of social services for low-income people in Elliot Park. The document stipulates that Aeon will work to improve the streetscape along 17th Street between Park and Chicago avenues, and partner with Catholic Charities to improve safety around 17th and Chicago. Aeon also agreed to connect its residents with Elliot Park employment opportunities and work to maintain a headquarters within the neighborhood.

Construction of the Alliance is expected to begin this year.

Major retail project proposed for Elliot Park

A company called Economic Growth Centers has purchased the old Enger funeral home in Elliot Park, and now the company is interested in redeveloping the entire block at 1010 Park into a retail mecca.

Tom Reynolds, executive director of Economic Growth Centers, said the company would probably move its offices into the building in mid-late October. EGC works to aid small businesses and promote economic development, so the company is naturally interested in improving the rest of the block, Reynolds said.

Reynolds envisions a shopping district with a central courtyard. This would be a five-year project, he said, dependent on the prices of acquisition and other factors.

“Elliot Park is virtually an untapped market with wonderful people that have a great vision for the neighborhood,” Reynolds said. “They have a plan in place, and need someone to help implement that vision.”

Investors have long viewed properties on the block as a package deal. One development partnership bought up several parcels of land, opened an office in the Hinkle-Murphy mansion, and tried to build two condo towers there three years ago. After months of planning and several project redesigns, the developers foreclosed on all of the properties they purchased, including the building at 609 S. 10th St. previously home to e.p. atelier, the Enger building at 1010 Park, and the Hinkle-Murphy mansion at 619 S. 10th St.

Minnwest Bank listed the foreclosed parcels jointly for sale at a cost of $4.3 million.