Luxury apartment tower planned for 5th & Nicollet

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September 26, 2011
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Opus Development Corp. pitching plan for 33-story high rise

Opus Development Corp. has proposed a new 33-story luxury apartment tower at South 5th Street & Nicollet Mall.

The developer presented an overview of the project to the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA) on Sept. 13. It was scheduled to be reviewed by the Minneapolis City Planning Commission’s Committee of the Whole on Sept. 22 — after this edition of The Journal went to press.

If approved, it would be the first high-rise apartment building in downtown in nearly three decades. The building would have retail at street and skyway levels and skyway connections to Fifth Street Towers and Neiman Marcus.

“Nicollet Residences will offer a San Francisco or New York-type luxury high-rise apartment living experience that will be the first of its kind in Minneapolis,” said Tom Lund, vice president, real estate development of Opus Development Corporation, in a news statement. “Extensive amenities, a light rail station and two skyway connections will be very attractive to a variety of residents looking for the flexibility of renting rather than owning.”

The project site is a parcel between Nicollet and Marquette on 5th Street formerly home to the Powers Department Store, which closed in the mid-1980s.

Developers involved in the Nicollet Residences project were involved in the Carlyle and Grant Park condominium developments.

The proposal comes at a time when the downtown rental market is very tight. Recent reports indicated the vacancy rate is around 1 percent.

Other high profile apartment projects are moving through the city approval process, too.

Downtown-based developer Ryan Cos. US Inc. has a plan for a 283-unit apartment project with a Whole Foods grocery store at street level at the former Jaguar dealership site at Hennepin & Washington. The site plan for the project, known as 222 Hennepin, was approved by the Minneapolis Planning Commission on Sept. 19.

Chicago-based Magellan Development is proposing a 355-unit luxury apartment tower at 14th & LaSalle in the Loring Park neighborhood. If the proposal makes it way through the city-approval process, Magellan hopes to start construction in early 2013.

David Menke, senior vice president and general manager of Opus Development Corp., said the company has become more active in multifamily development projects as market conditions have improved.

“Nicollet Residences fits very well with our design-build delivery system and high-rise construction expertise,” he said.

Opus plans to seek LEED certification for the building. Amenities include a 24/7 door attendant and concierge service, fitness center, yoga studio, private theater, roof terrace with pool and spa, outdoor fire pit and grilling area and dog play area, according to a news release on the project.

Apartments in the Nicollet Residents would feature 9- to 10-foot ceilings and have floor-to-ceiling windows.

The DMNA passed a motion in support of the concept of the Powers site project. The neighborhood group’s board asked the developers to return and present additional information when final plans come into sharper focus, said Christie Rock, DMNA coordinator.

The architects on the project are Opus AE Group Inc. and Elness Swenson Graham Architects Inc.