North Loop loft project gets shorter

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August 8, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

Developer Schafer Richardson shaved two stories - and eight units - from its planned 730 Lofts project. The shrinkage came after residents of a nearby Schafer Richardson-built loft project bemoaned their loss of Downtown views.

The original 12 stories will become 10, with 104 units.

David Frank, Schafer Richardson's project manager met with Basset Creek Lofts residents after they balked at the original 730 Lofts height. (The sales office for 730 Lofts, 730 N. 4th St., is in the Basset Creek building, 901 N. 3rd St.)

The design change happened with little of the usual builder-resident tug-of-war - no angry public hearings or months-long task forces - likely because Schafer Richardson developed both. Frank called the situation a "special circumstance" which he likened to a retail return policy.

"If you have a retail business and your customer is unhappy - it might not be part of your return policy, but you don't want your customers to be unhappy," he said.

"Basset Creek Lofts have agreed to not oppose" 730 Lofts," Frank added. "They said it's not all they wanted - they wanted four to eight stories - but they think Schafer Richardson made a good faith effort."

Jon Peterson, speaking for a Basset Creek Lofts "action committee," said that the new design was "the best we could do under the circumstances."

Although the design does preserve some lost Downtown views, "some are still quite unhappy," Peterson said.

Frank said there is a "serious difference of opinion" between the developer and some neighborhood residents.

"We believe there are some substantial benefits in taller buildings," Frank said, adding that the scaled-back design doesn't signal a change of opinion on the topic.

Though the Basset Creek action committee was formed to address the 730 Lofts specifically, Peterson and other group members are taking an interest in the developing area he called "the wild west of development."

Peterson said that the area - west of 6th Avenue North between Washington Avenue and I-94 - is outside historic districts and the neighborhood Master Plan. It will also be the only North Loop area that stays in the 5th Ward when the rest moves to the 7th Ward in 2006.

The North Loop Neighborhood Association Zoning and Planning Committee was supported the 730 Lofts project for the second time July 26. (Frank, a North Loop resident, is co-chair of the committee but recused himself from the committee's deliberations or from voting.)

Peterson said the North Loop committee sees taller buildings as an opportunity for high-density housing, but his group thinks the same might be accomplished through "more creative buildings."

He noted that the action committee "is definitely in support of plan growth and height density, but it's a matter of how high is too high?"

Peterson and two other residents (who do not live at Basset Creek) have joined the North Loop committee.

Other minor design changes were not neighborhood-initiated, Frank said. The building entrance was moved from the side to the front of the building on North 4th Street to match the nearby 710 and 720 Lofts, and the floors were each compressed 6 inches (which made the building 6 feet shorter).

Frank said that the developer is working on how to make up financially for 730's lost units.