Community notebook: Mill Main Apartments planned for Pillsbury A Mill site

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January 16, 2012
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss
EAST BANK — The Mill Main luxury apartments project has been revealed by Doran Companies, one of two developers working on parcels of the historic Pillsbury A Mill Complex.

The project calls for two buildings with a total of 374 market-rate apartment units, but the first phase of the construction will focus only on one 180 unit building.

The first building will feature several unit types, including two-story townhomes, studio apartments, and one, two and three-bedroom units. The first building will also feature community rooms, yoga rooms, saunas, a business center and a plaza with firepit and reflecting pool. Additional amenities such as a rooftop greenspace are also being considered.

Doran Cos. Vice President of Development Jim LaValle said the closing on the land took place in late December and the company is “midstream with city approvals.” He hopes to begin construction in the spring.

LaValle hopes the second building will follow shortly after the first, which is scheduled for completion in 2013. The second building will offer similar amenities.

Plymouth-based Dominium has a purchase agreement for the remainder of the complex, which the company hopes to close on by this spring.

Crime prevention specialists are back

After a scare that Minneapolis might lay off Northeast’s last remaining crime prevention specialist, the 2nd Precinct is starting the New Year with two of them.

Mayor R.T. Rybak proposed a budget that would have cut back on the city’s crime prevention specialists (CPS), who serve as liaisons between police and the community. To retain the positions, City Council members decided to dip into Police Department savings.

Insp. Bryan Schafer said the 2nd Precinct received an additional CPS to replace a position that was vacated last summer. The position hadn’t been filled until now due to budgetary uncertainty.

The new CPS is Carla Nielson, who relocated from the 3rd Precinct to cover the area north of Broadway. She previously worked in neighborhoods south of Downtown, including Ventura Village and Phillips.

Hennepin County issues RFPs for The Interchange Project

NORTH LOOP — Hennepin County has issued a pair of Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the Interchange — the transit hub proposed for Target Field.

Hennepin County is touting the RFPs as a major step in the development process for the project, which is tentatively scheduled for completion by 2014.

The first RFP for design-build plans was issued to four pre-qualified teams in late December. It calls for designs for the major aspects of the project, including a new platform to accommodate riders of the existing Hiawatha light-rail line, Northstar Commuter line and the forthcoming Central Corridor light-rail line. Other elements include a public plaza and a 400-stall parking structure beneath the plaza.

A panel appointed by Hennepin County will recommend one of the four designs, which are due for review by Feb. 24.

The Interchange’s plaza will ideally feature both public space and retail and commercial elements, which is the focus of the second RFP. It calls for public-private partnerships to enhance the project’s public spaces asks for commercial and retail development concepts, naming rights for the upper plaza and long-term parking lot lease and/or management concepts. This RFP seeks to create jobs and increase the tax base of the development and bring additional funding partners to the table. Interested parties have until Feb. 3 to submit proposals to Steven Louie in Hennepin County’s Purchasing and Contract Services department.

City in talks with housing developer for Grain Belt site

SHERIDAN — The city is renegotiating with a housing developer that wants to build apartments at 13th Avenue and Marshall Street Northeast.  

The city owns the land, and city staff wanted to sell the Grain Belt office building at 1215 Marshall St. NE to the architecture firm Collaborative Design Group for its new headquarters. Instead, the firm reversed its bid and pulled out in December.

City staff already liked an Everwood Development proposal for housing next to the office building — it didn’t require any public subsidies and construction could begin right away. Now, they are a taking another look at Everwood’s pitch to rehab the office building as well.

“They were the second choice,” said Jerry LePage, project coordinator.

LePage was scheduled to update the city’s Community Development Committee on Jan. 17, after this issue went to press.

Demand at local food banks soared during economic downturn

Hunger-Free Minnesota, the North Loop-based program working to solve the problem of Minnesota’s “hunger gap,” has released a study showing a significant increase in food bank usage over a three-year period.

In the 2008–2010 timeframe, Hunger-Free Minnesota is reporting a 42 percent increase in deliveries to statewide food banks. The six largest associated food banks in the state distributed 61.3 million pounds of food in 2010, compared to 43.1 million pounds in 2008.

While some portion of the increase in food deliveries can be attributed to increased efficiency in distribution efforts, most of the increase can be attributed to growing demand for food assistance.

“We’re seeing a considerable increase in need,” said Ellie Lucas, chief campaign officer for Hunger-Free Minnesota. “The economy is obviously having a huge impact on this.”

The mission of Hunger-Free Minnesota, said Lucas, is to find more efficient ways to get nutritious food to those Minnesotans experiencing chronic hunger issues.

Classic rock art show returns to downtown

SKYWAYS — From Jan. 18–21, classic rock fans will have a chance to check out rare rock and roll artwork at the seventh annual 92 KQRS Classic Rock Art Show.

Held in the skyway level of Macy’s, 700 Nicollet Mall, the show features original art, photos, concert posters, album art and more from classic rock artists. Beatles fans in particular will want to turn out to meet Ron Campbell animator of the “Yellow Submarine” movie and director of The Beatles Saturday morning cartoon series.

“Anybody that purchases one of Ron’s paintings will sit down with Ron, and on the letter of authenticity for that painting, he will paint another piece on the certificate, so it’s almost like getting another painting for nothing,” said Rock Art Show’s Scott Segelbaum. “It’s really, really fun. People go crazy for that.”

The art show is free to visit, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the duration of the show. All artwork is for sale, with a portion of all proceeds going to The Smile Network.

“The cool thing about this is that it’s literally a visual history of rock and roll,” said Segelbaum.

Loring Theater closes

LORING PARK — The Loring Theater, the 1920s venue at 1407 Nicollet formerly known as the Music Box Theater, has closed its doors. Its operators, The Directors, LLP, opted not to renew its lease, which expired on Dec. 31. In November, The Directors slashed the majority of its scheduled shows after falling on tough financial times.

The Directors have operated the Loring Theater venue since 2010. According to a statement posted on its website by artistic director Steve Barberio, more than 15,000 people attended shows at Loring Theater during their run. Conceived as a “modern variety house,” Loring Theater scheduled a wide variety of events, including concerts, movies and “Haunted Theater: Fallout,” a haunted house/interactive theater experience inspired by the fallout shelter in the building’s basement.

Michelle Bruch contributed to this report.