On East Bank, neighborhood board backs Mathwig condos

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July 25, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

At its July 18 meeting, the Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association board voted 7-5 to support a 140-foot-tall condo development planned for 110 NE 6th St. The board also heard details on a proposed condo/retail project at 700 Central Ave., currently the site of Archivit Ministorage.

110 NE 6th St.

With a narrow 7-5 margin, the board voted to support Mathwig Development's proposed four-to-12-story condominium project at Northeast 6th Street & 1st Avenue Northeast. In addition to backing the 140-foot height, the board also voted unanimously to support the site's rezoning from C2 to C3A, a conditional-use permit for up to 170 units (160 are currently planned) and for two setback variances, which would allow the building to be closer to the street.

A task force recently recommended that the board support city approval of the project.

Board members generally applauded the design of the project, which steps up from four to eight and finally 12 stories and includes almost 30 percent green space on the ground level. Recent design changes include no townhouses along Northeast 6th Street and residential parking access only on 6th near 1st Avenue Northeast. Proposed rear access has been removed.

City Councilmember Paul Ostrow (1st Ward) attended the meeting, having realized just two weeks prior that the one block in question resides in his ward and not the 3rd Ward, as was previously thought.

Ostrow said that he agrees with the board's "positive issues" regarding the project but feels the city's zoning code is "important to observe." If and when the project comes before the City Council, Ostrow said he will ask whether height impacts - such as shading - can be lessened, and if the height fits the neighborhood's character. Ostrow said he doesn't know if the "zoning code as it relates to height is what it needs

to be."

Board members noted that other, taller buildings do exist along the riverfront.

Mathwig will go before the Planning Commission Aug. 1.

700-708 Central Ave.

Newcomer developers Tony Barranco and Justin Zavadil presented preliminary plans for their proposed mixed-use condominium and retail project at 700-708 Central Ave. SE, just on the border of the East

Bank neighborhood.

Zavadil said he and Barranco are under contact to purchase the buildings from Bruce Hubbard, owner of Archivit Records Management. Current tenant Larson Records is in the process of moving out, Zavadil said, and leaseholders have either gotten notice or will soon.

Architect Brian Lubben of Walsh-Bishop Associates, Inc. designed the project, which is yet to be named.

The plan is to restore the two existing buildings and add a new four-story building of similar character. The existing four-story brick-and-timber building at 700 Central is currently boarded up, and the attached six-story 708 Central building is now rented for ministorage.

Barranco said his company wants to "bring a dead, old building to life," and "put it to modern use." Two stories will be added atop the 700 building; otherwise, the buildings would remain the same, Barranco said, except for a new street front on Central and windows added at 708 Central.

Current plans are for 77 units - any more would require variances to allow more density and less parking, Barranco said. Residential parking will be below ground at an average of 1.7 spaces per unit, more than the 1 per unit the city requires. The ground level will feature 5,100 square feet of retail and three or four live/work units.

The developers plan large units with a "softer finish," in the $240-$270-per-square-foot range, marketed to a "more mature" buyer.

A parking lot behind the three buildings would be for overflow and guest parking and Dumpsters.

Green space will exist in the parking area and maybe on the rooftop, Zavadil said.

Barranco said that lead paint would have to be removed from the building. Zavadil said that both buildings have been asbestos-abated.

Barranco said that, although there are "not a lot of details" about the project, it had received positive feedback from the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association (Central Avenue divides the Marcy-Holmes and East Bank neighborhoods) and the city, which, Barranco said, "was excited to have an old building turned more lively."

Jo Radzwill, land use chair for Marcy-Holmes, said that her committee had told Barranco and Zavadil to "go for it and come back" to her committee.

NIEBNA board member Pete Goelzer commented that 5 feet of apparent blank wall space along Southeast 7th Street might not invite the kind of street-level activity the neighborhood would like to see. Barranco said that Senior City Planner Jason Wittenberg had made the same comment and suggested glass be used there.

Board member Barry Clegg said that he liked the reuse of architecture and added that the new building's design matched the old one's well.

The developers expect to present the project to the Planning Commission this fall.

Tony Strauss, senior associate at Welsh Companies, is the development's third partner. Barranco, a newcomer on the development scene, is partnering with Strauss, Todd Schachtman and David Kutoff to renovate the Stimson Building, adjacent to the Pantages Theatre at the corner of South 8th Street & Hennepin Avenue South, and a 5th Street & Washington Avenue South development that features CorePower Yoga.