East Bank development grows; neighborhood approval on hold

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May 23, 2005 // UPDATED 1:54 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

At the May 16 Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association (NIEBNA) board meeting, members praised a new architect's design for an ever-growing condominium project at Northeast 6th Street & 1st Avenue Northeast. It then sent Mathwig Development away without recommending that the city approve the project.

"When you figure out exactly what you're asking for, let us know," NIEBNA Board President Victor Grambsch said.

Developer Troy Mathwig and Kent Simon, vice president of the architectural firm Miller Hanson, had hoped the board would support the project, but NIEBNA instead needs specifics of a rezoning request, as well as feedback from residents of the adjacent Calumet Lofts, 127 NE 5th St.

Simon's presentation showed building heights between five and 12 stories - the latter four stories above the previously eight-story plan. Although several options are possible, Mathwig said his company intends to seek rezoning to a C3A for a "full-plan" 12 -story, 158-unit project. Current C2 zoning permits building heights of 56 feet; Simon's presentation included a boxy six-story building design that meets current requirements, which he acknowledged Mathwig does not intend to build.

Grambsch voiced concern about the precedent the rezoning would set - but added that NIEBNA did not want to be in the project's "critical path."

Said Board Vice President Barry Clegg, "We like what we see, but we just want to be specific about what we're supporting."

One major design change would angle the tallest section along Northeast 6th Street toward the block's interior. That 130-foot-tall section will house "step-form" condos, each with its own terrace.

Commercial space fronting 1st Avenue Northeast has been increased slightly to 12,000 square feet. Townhouses with urban-style stoops and two-car garages would front Sixth Street. All the other parking - 282 units for the condos and 55 stalls for commercial and visitors parking - are hidden from view, much to the NIEBNA board's satisfaction.

Parking will be accessed off Sixth Street and from a public easement at the back of the building.

Some variances could still be required, even if the rezoning happens. Simon said a phase one environmental review showed no problems with the site.

Mathwig said part of the issue is that the city is still assessing the rezoning procedure specifics.