Breaking the Wave? Park Board delays completing sale for riverfront condo

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December 19, 2005 // UPDATED 2:00 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The Wave, a high-end condo project slated for Downtown’s riverfront, is encountering some choppy waters.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has put the project in a holding pattern, tabling a motion to finalize the sale of the former Fuji-Ya restaurant site, which it owns, to Heritage Development, a developer based in Little Canada.

Despite signing off on a purchase agreement in February to sell the prime riverfront parcel to Heritage for $2.7 million, the Board voted to hold off completing the sale at its Dec. 7 meeting. In order to finalize the sale, the Board needs to direct its attorney to file with Hennepin County District Court.

Park Board President Jon Olson said Commissioners plan to hold another public hearing on the sale of the Fuji-Ya site in January. The site is in front of the River West condos, near the corner of South 1st Street and 5th Avenue South, southeast of the 3rd Avenue Bridge.

The Mill Ruins Park is nearby, tucked along the riverfront near the Stone Arch Bridge.

In addition to the standard city review process, The Wave would be subject to approval from the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission since the site falls within the St. Anthony Falls Historic District.

The developers behind The Wave are waiting for the sale to go through before going through the city’s development approval process. Michael Moriarty, president of Heritage Development, did not return a phone call for comment.

The January hearing gives opponents of the sale another opportunity to state their case.

Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine, one of the Commissioners who voted against the sale in February, said under the current arrangement, the Park Board doesn’t stand to gain much from the sale.

“I think we’re better off keeping the land,” Fine said. “The Wave is still waving.”

Under the proposal, the Wave would feature 36 high-end condos and a restaurant in a refurbished Fuji-Ya space. At its highest point, it would rise 11 stories.

The developer would set aside parking and public restrooms for park users, Olson said.

Heritage has teamed up with Jeff Arundel, a local rock musician, on the project. Arundel had the high bid for the site when the Park Board issued a request for proposals.

The Park Board acquired the Fuji Ya site in the 1980s as part of the West River Road expansion.