Sidewalk, bike lane to reopen by Reserve site

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August 23, 2004 // UPDATED 3:29 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

City officials plan to reopen a sidewalk and bike lane next to The Reserve, a dormant North Loop construction site.

The improvements at North 4th Avenue & North 1st Street are expected to be complete by Oct. 1.

Work on the proposed eight-story condo tower stalled more than a year ago at 360 N. 1st St. -- an expansive block near the Renaissance on the River brownstones and the newly complete Rock Island Lofts, 111 4th Ave. N.

The Reserve's original developer, Chicago-based Bejco Development Corp., is in the midst of loan foreclosures over other failed projects in Chicago that have come under new ownership. Bejco officials did not return phone calls for comment.

At the urging of concerned residents, Robert Boblett, a city real estate investigator, arranged a meeting earlier this month of city officials, neighborhood leaders, and John Gass, vice president of Atlanta-based TriMont Real Estate Advisors -- a group representing the project's lender, New York-based Lehman Brothers.

Gass declined to comment on the meeting.

"Our goal is to respond to the needs of the neighborhood in getting the sidewalks, bike lanes and driving and parking lanes open again," Boblett said. "The inspections department thinks the site is relatively secure."

City officials are allowing Lehman Brothers time to find a new developer for The Reserve, he said. "With foundations in place, it would be difficult at this point to make substantial changes in the project."

Gass is expected to submit a proposal to city leaders by summer's end to improve the site. Finding a new developer is a task that might be challenging in a market quickly becoming saturated with pricey condos.

Duane Reed, a Renaissance on the River resident and North Loop board member who lives next to the paralyzed construction site, pressed the developer and city officials to clean up the site along 4th Avenue North, a street that intersects with West River Parkway.

"I told them, one, this is the highest per-capita taxed area in the city of Minneapolis. For us to look at a failed project for over a year with sidewalks and bike paths blocked from access does not necessarily give us good value for taxes we are paying," Reed said.