A peace symbol, cut by an unknown mower, in Mill Ruins Park.

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July 18, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton and David Brauer
Jeremy Stratton and David Brauer

After two years of what musician-turned-developer Jeff Arundel called "a very thoughtful process," he and partner Heritage Development have unveiled "The Wave," a 38-unit luxury condominium project for Downtown riverfront just east of the 3rd Avenue Bridge.

A design was unveiled publicly at the July 12 Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA) board meeting.

The curving, horizontal design steps up from three stories near RiverWest, 401 S. 1st St. to five stories near the 3rd Avenue Bridge. Paula Merrigan of DJR Architecture said the design and building materials - including natural glass, wood, metal and stone - are "referential to the river and surrounding Mill District" character.

The downstream side will be anchored by what Heritage Development's Michael Moriarty called a "chef-driven, very high-end" restaurant in an existing building, once home to Fuji-Ya restaurant. A "world-class" spa is also planned.

DMNA board members - the first to see the project publicly - enthusiastically approved a motion supporting the project. Land Use Chair Andy Hauer called The Wave "the most exciting thing we've seen so far."

Nearby developers are wary of the project, however. The Wave could affect lower-floor views from RiverWest, 401 S. 1st St. and the downriver view from The Carlyle, a new 39-story building rising at 220 S. 2nd St.

RiverWest developer Chip Johnson wondered if The Wave's developers were playing down the project's ultimate height and density in architectural drawings released to the public.

Said Johnson, "We're still trying to evaluate any impact [The Wave] may or may not have on

RiverWest. It's good for the area to have a high-end property anchored by a restaurant. Townhomes, two and three stories, maybe four, would be

phenomenal. That's what everybody's been talking about all along."

The planned 38 units would be very high end. Ten two-level units would be 4,800 square feet each, and another 18 would be similarly sized, though on one level. Ten one-level units would be 2,400 square feet.

Prices have not been established, but at an estimated $400 per square foot, the smaller units would be just under $1 million apiece while the larger units would cost almost $2 million each.

The development could also face city approval hurdles because it is in an historic district.

Right now, the site includes elements of mill ruins, which Moriarty said would be "moved forward and replicated" and incorporated into the design as a faade or veneer in order to "pay homage to the existing ruins."

A more modern aspect - two Minneapolis Park Board parking lots - will also be incorporated. A three-and-a-half-story below-grade ramp will include 65 spaces of contract parking; the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will get that revenue. The developers will control 90 spaces of Wave parking, including 25 for the restaurant and public.

Moriarty said he and his partners had not wanted to move forward before "getting a feeling form the neighborhood."

Now that the design has gotten at least one favorable review, Moriarty said the developers would start the application and city review process. It is too early, he said, to estimate when the project might be completed.