39-story condos may rise near river

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July 21, 2003 // UPDATED 10:59 am - April 30, 2007
By: Ellen Nigon
Ellen Nigon

With just eight units per floor, Bridge Place will threaten fewer riverfront views

As early as next spring, a 39-story condominium complex could rise at 220 S. 2nd St., on the site of the former Housing and Urban Development office.

So far, riverfront neighbors seem unconcerned with their new neighbor's height. The $100 million project, currently dubbed Bridge Place, came before the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA) July 8. Board members expressed support for the condominium proposal by APEX Asset Management Corporation (the same company behind Elliot Park's Grant Park condominiums at 10th Street and Portland Avenue South).

DMNA board member Carletta Sweet lives in RiverWest Apartments, 401 S. 1st St. She would be a next-door neighbor of Bridge Place. She did not feel it would obstruct her views of the Downtown skyline.

"I don't have any concerns as long as it doesn't interfere with the general view of the neighborhood. I don't think it would, from RiverWest's perspective," Sweet said. "It's not going to be a massive complex. I personally feel it's going to be an asset to the community."

Though Bridge Place will rise 39 stories, the 285-unit tower will only have eight units per story, so it won't have a large surface area, said Robert Lux, an APEX principal.

DMNA board member and would-be neighbor Dee Cotten, who lives in River Gate, 115 2nd Ave. S., was also unconcerned.

Lux said his company would not break ground until half of the 285 units had been pre-sold. If Apex is able to pre-sell 50 percent of the condo units, they will break ground in spring of 2004 and construction will last two years. There is no public subsidy.

An average Bridge Place condo will cost $300,000-$400,000. "This will appeal to a pretty broad market. It will be a similar market as Grant Park," Lux said. "There we're seeing some empty nesters. [At Bridge Place] we'll probably see a little bit of a larger group of empty nesters because they're historically attracted to the river. Then it's kind of the young urban professionals."

Units will go on sale this fall. "Given the desirability of the site as well as the building and the pricing I think we'll be able to achieve the pre-sale requirement very quickly," Lux said.

If erected, Bridge Place will rise as a tower adjacent, but connected to, the current HUD building, which APEX will convert into a parking ramp. In addition to HUD building parking, the actual tower will have two underground levels of parking and four above-ground parking levels. However, the first floor will not be parking, but instead will be the condo's community/club room.

"[The HUD Building] will get completely re-skinned, so it will all look like one building," Lux said. "The skin on it is absolutely so cool with great big windows all the way through it. It will look very historic with brick, stone and pre-cast."

Each of the 285 condos will be a corner unit; Lux explained how more than four per floor is possible. "The floor plate is almost a square, but if you notch out the corners, you end up with two corners on each corner," Lux said. "It's a very unique design."

In addition to the tower units, a row of seven town homes will be constructed on top of the HUD building. The roof of the HUD building will also contain a plaza with a pool.

"Instead of that whole plaza being a pool -- which typically doesn't look very good -- we're trying to make it a more intimate space and a more human scale," Lux said. "By putting a row of town homes there, we are able to utilize some of that space and really create a neat environment. It is like taking an at-grade environment and moving it up five stories."

On the tower's fifth floor, an exercise facility and spa will overlook the outdoor plaza. The exercise and spa floor will include amenities such as a steam room, tanning beds, a massage room and an esthetician.

In May, the Minneapolis Community Development Agency released the site's owners from a 1979 obligation to connect Bridge Place to the Minneapolis skyway system. The skyway connection was never built, and now developers don't have to.

The project still needs a city conditional use permit to allow residential construction. Councilmember Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward), who represents the Bridge Place site, did not return calls for comment.