Community notebook: Hoyts Loring Park apartment project breaks ground

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December 16, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss
LORING PARK — After years of delays and lawsuits, construction has begun on a new Loring Park apartment complex by developer Brad Hoyt and his firm Continental Development Group.

The seven-story, 119-unit upscale apartment building held a groundbreaking ceremony on Dec. 8, during which new details on the project were revealed.

The apartment complex has been christened Vue, and will include units ranging from 525 square feet to 1,500 square feet. The building, which was described as an “intimate boutique apartment building” by Continental Property Group Executive Vice President Traci Thomas, will feature amenities such as a private Internet café, a clubroom with commercial kitchen and a rooftop terrace with multiple grilling stations. The building will also include a wellness center with steam shower and sauna.

Thomas called the project “the most significant development in Loring Park in decades,” and said that the target resident were “renters by choice,” such as young professionals and empty nesters. She cites the proximity to public transit, bike trails and restaurants as nearby amenities that will draw upscale tenants to the area and the development.

The development was the topic of heated battle earlier this year. The city’s Planning Commission voted down plans for the project in late June, despite recommendations to approve it from Senior City Planner Becca Farrar. Hoyt appealed the decision, and the City Council approved his appeal in August.

Construction is expected to last 13 months, with a grand opening date roughly scheduled for January 2013.

The Cowles Center hires new leader

HENNEPIN — The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts has announced that Lynn Von Eschen has been named the new executive director. Von Eschen’s predecessor Frank Sonntag resigned in November after 10 months in the position. Von Eschen has worked at St. Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and will start his duties at The Cowles Center in January.

“I could not be more thrilled about bringing Lynn onboard at The Cowles Center,” said Kelley Lindquist, President of Cowles parent organization Artspace Projects, Inc., in a statement. “His operational and programming experience at the Ordway, along with his connection to the local arts community, make him the perfect choice to lead The Cowles as we partner with the Twin Cities dance community to offer incredible experiences to dance lovers and to engage new audiences.”

Von Eschen joined the staff of the Ordway in 1993 and served in a variety of leadership roles at the organization until being appointed vice president and general manager in 2005. Prior to joining the Ordway, Von Eschen worked for the Children’s Theatre Company.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’m honored to have been chosen as the next executive director,” said Von Eschen. “I have followed the development of the Cowles for several years and the building of it and the planning of it and the opening, so it’s something that I’ve admired from the sidelines and have been watching. At times I thought it would be a great place to be a part of, and the timing just sort of happened at the right time. I have been at the Ordway for 18 years. It kind of all fell together.”

As for the differences between his work at The Ordway and The Cowles, Von Eschen sees issues of both scope and style. “The difference between the two is that the Ordway has a large theater that has about 1,900 seats and a smaller theater that’s 300 seats. The Cowles has 500, so it’s kind of in between there a bit,” he said. “I think that it’s a multifaceted role over here between fundraising and marketing and programming and as I said building relationships, so I think it will be about everybody working together for the common good and the mission of the organization and figuring out how to do that as quickly as we can.”

The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts opened in September. The inaugural season continues through June 2012.

North Loop Neighborhood Association invites you to Target Field

NORTH LOOP — On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the North Loop Neighborhood Association (NLNA) will hold its annual meeting at an exciting venue: Target Field. The purpose of the meeting, said the NLNA’s Scott Woller, is for North Loop residents to meet one another and discover opportunities to volunteer in North Loop community activities. “It’s kind of a connecting point,” he said.

The meeting will be held from 7–9 p.m. in an interior meeting room.

Members of the Twins organization will be on hand, and Twins tickets and gifts from local North Loop businesses will be among the giveaways at the event. Prizes aside, the real purpose of the meeting will to recruit new volunteers for NLBA events and the organization itself.

Woller said the NLBA will be looking for participants for events such as its annual Earth Day clean up, a local arts awareness project and other NLNA-sponsored events. The group is also looking for new members for some of its committees, such as Planning and Zoning, Marketing and Promotions, and Safety and Livability.

New film series launches at Red Stag

The Red Stag Supper Club, 509 1st Ave. NE, will debut a new movie and music night series on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 10 p.m. The series launches with artist Jaime Carrera’s “MLPS trilogy,” three short films created for a film project designed to highlight local neighborhoods.

“We created these for [film organization] Cinema Revolution’s ‘Minneapolis Project’ in 2010, which was about making movies to highlight neighborhoods in Minneapolis,” said Carrera. “The only rule was that you had to be able to show that part of the city. There are a lot of exterior shots so you can tell where you are. The film parade takes place in Powderhorn, so we filmed scenes at the May Day Parade. We decided to make three and to make a trilogy. We made our films to stand alone and to work together.”

The three films in the MPLS Trilogy, “Dischord,” “Parade” and “Passing” were filmed in the Northeast, Powderhorn and Loring areas. All star local artists and stand on their own, but also serve as a prequel to another one of Carrera’s films, “Station,” which has been presented at the Walker Art Center.

Chris Tures, who stars in the film “Dischord,” will also perform at the event with his folk band Aldine.

Lowry Avenue Bridge taking shape

BOTTINEAU — The Lowry Avenue Bridge linking North and Northeast Minneapolis are gaining the arches that are the centerpiece of its design. The arches will be assembled piece by piece in a process that is expect to last through mid-January, weather permitting.

“The arches are the exclamation points on this marvel of modern infrastructure. When this process is complete, we’ll have the signature connection between North and Northeast Minneapolis that has been envisioned from the start, and will be a staple of this region for 100-plus years,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Mark
Stenglein in a statement.

The arches are comprised of 22 pieces in total. The first four sections, which each weigh approximately 130,000 pounds, should be in place by late December. The next phase of construction, installation of cables and lights, should begin in February 2012.

Harbor Light Shelter adds bunks

The Salvation Army Harbor Light Shelter recently completed a renovation to its men’s shelter, adding 65 bunk beds, each with individual lockers.

The renovations also added a lounge area designed to give men at the shelter a space to talk to representatives from the Salvation Army and other agencies about their needs.

Steve Horsfield, the chief operating officer at Harbor Light, 1010 Currie Ave N., said the renovations go a long way to adding more dignity to the shelter. Formerly, the space was an open room where men slept on the floor on mats.

“It was shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, really a sea of flesh,” Horsfield said, describing the previous layout of the sleeping area, called the Safebay. “With the lockers, guests won’t have to sleep clutching their belongings.”

Inspiration for the renovations and lounge came from the temporary winter shelter at First Covenant Church. There, Horsfield said, the shelter area was much more conducive to conversations, something he said was lacking from Harbor Light’s previous layout.

Volunteers from the American Institute of Architecture created the renovation plans while the Kraus-Anderson construction company. Architects Tim Bicknell of AECOM and Tim O’Brien of Tim O’Brien & Associates also provided help. Dave Frauenshuh, a commercial real estate developer, gave much financial support.

Harbor Light shelters 400–500 people per night, and in the Twin Cities the Salvation Army serves almost 300,000 people per year, Horsfield said.

New blog highlights fun family activities

NORTHEAST PARK — Northeast resident Amy Hernandez is a freelance copywriter, mother of a 1st grader, and now an in-the-know blogger on local family fun.

“At so many kids’ websites, there is tons of information and it’s hard to comb through it all,” Hernandez said. “Or it’s boring to read.”

At, Hernandez keeps a conversational blog that highlights timely events and nuggets about neighborhood mainstays.

Recent posts included the Northeast Library book sale (in which she wondered if her six-year-old is too young for a Hoarders intervention); the Xelias Aerial Art Studio (classes that make you “stand back, smile and hold your breath”); and morning matinees at the Riverview Theater in South Minneapolis (for those Saturday mornings meant for “elastic-waist pants”).

“People can sign up for emails and get something almost daily,” Hernandez said. “Moms are always looking to get out of the house.”

Dharma Center moving to new space

LORGAN PARK — Volunteers from the Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center are rehabbing a new home for themselves at 1626 Jefferson St. NE.

The meditation center previously operated a limited schedule in offices across the cities.

“We want to have an established, dedicated practice center that’s available all the time,” said Michael O’Neal, who started teaching classes with his wife Joen in 2000.

The Dharma Center is scheduled to open in early 2012. Aside from the brickwork, the entire building has been rehabbed, O’Neal said.

“We think it really looks sharp,” he said.

The center offers Buddhist teachings and courses in “mindfulness” that are designed to reduce stress for people of any religion.

The new center will offer a more extensive class schedule and regular meditation times.

Michelle Bruch and Mike Munzenrider contributed to this report.