Proposed Nicollet Mall condo tower earns applause

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October 4, 2004 // UPDATED 4:15 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Architects behind a flashy 48-story condo high-rise planned for 10th Street & Nicollet Mall showcased their early designs at a Loring Park neighborhood meeting Sept. 27, generating a round of applause at the end of their presentation.

One of the lead architects, Janis LaDouceur of Barbour/LaDouceur Architects, 129 2nd St. N., said the tower's design blends elements of Downtown's skyline with neighborhoods south of the commercial core.

The glassy tower features a giant arc that slices down the middle of the 343-unit tower and shoots out from the building's top, pointing toward the south and "scooping in the fun of Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza," LaDouceur said.

The tip of the arc would feature white lights similar to the disk atop the U.S. Bank building at South 6th Street & 3rd Avenue South.

"It wears a suit toward Downtown," she added, referencing the tower's similarities with glassy office high-rises to the north.

LaDouceur and her partner John Barbour are partnering with developers Jeff McDonell, a landscape architect, Henry Lazniarz and Ron Johnson on the $75 million project.

The group has secured rights to the block that is home to Let It Be Records, 1001 Nicollet Mall; Sawatdee, 1005 Nicollet Mall; and Key's Nicollet Caf/, 1007 Nicollet Mall. The adjacent historic Handicraft Guild Building, which houses the breakfast hotspot Hell's Kitchen, 889 S. 10th St., is also under their control.

The group has a purchase agreement pending on the site with the current property owner, Margot Siegel.

McDonell told neighborhood leaders the team was committed to preserving and restoring the Handicraft Guild Building, which was built in 1907 and housed one of the first arts and crafts societies in the country. It was also one of the first places in the city to employ women.

The developers will work to retain local businesses in the Handicraft Guild Building and provide new street-level spaces for the record store and restaurants in the new tower, McDonell said.

The project falls within the boundaries of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA), but the developers went before the Citizens for a Loring Park Community for feedback because the tower would be visible by most residents.

The CLPC presentation was informational. The board did not pass a motion on the tower since it falls outside of the neighborhood's 12th Street boundary.

The neighborhood group has been vocal about the impact of high-rises on Downtown's southern edge, including the 32-story Target Tower at South 11th Street & Nicollet Mall (roughly the same height as the 48-story condo tower because residential floors aren't as tall). Most recently, CLPC meetings have attracted residents opposed to a 21-story high rise at 401 Oak Grove St.

The developers plan to go before DMNA this fall before submitting an application to the city.

The group is not requesting city subsidies or variances for the project, LaDouceur said.

If built, the 48-story tower (originally proposed at 45 stories) would be the city's tallest residential structure, surpassing the 39-story Carlyle by nine stories. The Carlyle has just begun construction at South 1st Street & 3rd Avenue South.

Units would range from $250,000 to more than $1 million for penthouses in the top levels, McDonell said.

If the group secures city approvals on the tower, the developers plan to launch a marketing effort in March 2005. The market for Downtown condos is becoming increasingly competitive with more than 40 projects in the pipeline, according to Skyway News research.