Condo height concerns hit North Loop

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

Developer Schafer Richardson will reconsider the design of its 730 Lofts after nearby residents - including some from the builder's own Bassett Creek Lofts - balked at the 12-story North Loop project.

Residents were concerned that the height - above the 6-8 stories typical of the area - would block views and set a precedent for taller buildings in the area, said John Slack, co-chair of the North Loop Neighborhood Association's Planning and Zoning Committee.

Residents worried that the type and increasing scale of development could "ruin the character of the area and the entire neighborhood," he said.

Slack added that the scope of an hour-long discussion at the June committee meeting was broader than the single project. Neighbors asked the committee and North Loop board to explore how development could change the neighborhood's character and what the neighborhood could do to steer future development.

In response, Slack and Zoning and Planning Committee Co-chair David Frank - a neighborhood resident and Schafer Richardson project manager -will hire former Minneapolis Zoning Administrator Blake Graham to conduct a "training" session on the intricacies of city zoning and development.

Frank said Graham helped write the city's current zoning code and now consults with developers and the city on zoning issues.

In the meantime, Frank said Schafer Richardson would meet with Bassett Creek and other residents about their concerns. The developer will present the revised design to the committee and the North Loop board, which already reviewed and supported the old design.

Frank said he's not sure if the redesign will result in a shorter building, but that other, independent issues needed to be addressed. Those include material costs and the number of units. Frank said the project is in the design stage and no applications have been filed with the city.

Frank said it is unusual to have one Schafer project affect the views of another. The 730 Lofts sales center is in the Bassett Creek building, 901 N. 3rd St.; residents spoke up after they learned about the coming project from sales associates, said Frank, who then met with the residents.

"They pushed the committee to think about developing some guidelines," said Slack. At its June meeting, the board agreed it was a good idea for the committee - barely two months old - to have a unified review strategy for current and future projects.