Six-story Loring project succeeds where 21-story tower failed

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December 6, 2004 // UPDATED 4:50 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

A Citizens for a Loring Park Community (CLPC) committee has embraced plans for a six-story, 74-unit condo development for 401 Oak Grove St.

The new proposal by Wayzata-based developer Brad Hoyt and Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, a Downtown architectural firm, follows on the heels of their 21-story high-rise proposal for the site -- a parking lot at Oak Grove Street & Clifton Place.

The tower concept, known as Parc Centrale, faced intense neighborhood opposition and was rejected by the city's Planning Commission and the Minneapolis City Council earlier this year. Critics called the high-rise too tall for Loring Park's hill area, which is home to historic mansions.

The new development proposal calls for a building more in line with neighboring projects, such as the five-story 301 Oak Grove condo project and The Groveland, a seven-story development at 317 Groveland Ave.

The project would be called 401 Oak Grove.

Paul Mellblom, an architect with Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, said the new design will feature architectural details designed to complement classical architecture in Loring Park, such as the 430 Oak Grove Office Building, the 510 Groveland and the Basilica of Saint Mary.

The faade would blend in with the grayish-white limestone exterior of the 430 Oak Grove Building and feature extensive landscaping.

The CLPC Land Use Committee endorsed the project at a Nov. 22 meeting.

"It's nice of have the neighborhood excited about our design," Mellblom said. "I think it's an exciting building with a nice modern interpretation."

Mike Marn, a CLPC board member who was active in organizing opposition to the Parc Centrale proposal, complimented the developer's new design.

"I'm very pleased that they've come up with a design that is within code. They've proven what we've maintained all along -- that they could build an attractive building within code. It also proves that the neighborhood is not antidevelopment," Marn said. "I think we got a much better design by insisting they build within code. Certainly, without a doubt, it fits the neighborhood much better."

Mellblom said he expects the new proposal will go before the city's Planning Commission in January. If the project obtains city approval, construction would start late spring, he said. Residents would likely move into 401 Oak Grove in spring 2006.