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We feature selected comments by readers as a blog posts.  The following two comments by Rodge Adams and Cem Erdem help to inform the dialogue about the Brickstone project:

By Rodge Adams:  In recent years, big residential developments near the northwest corner of Lake Calhoun have triggered debates about height, and especially about the impact on the Shoreland Overlay’s goal of avoiding tall buildings that rise above the tree line. As each new project has been proposed, there have been debates about precedence — whether a project fits the pattern of previous developments, or sets a new, higher pattern. And, at what point does the new pattern invalidate the whole point of the Shoreland Overlay? Precedence was raised again by Dan Otis in his quote reported in a previous post in this discussion: “With the previous approvals of 8 stories at 2622 W Lake St, and 6 stories at 3118 W Lake St, there is clearly precedent for both of these height concepts [a 9- or 10- story Brickstone building].”
 
Comparisons based on height in stories can be tricky, since buildings sit on different ground levels and since the height of a story can vary. When considering the impact on the spirit of the Shoreland Overlay, the elevation of the tops of buildings may be a more useful guide: How tall does a building appear to be when viewed by, say, a boater on the lake? How respectful is it of the tree line along the shore? 
 
We have no images of a Brickstone building that has not been built, but Brickstone has said that its 9-story building would be approximately as high as the 14th floor of an existing building, Lake Point. So, a 10-story Brickstone building would be approximately as high as the 15th floor of Lake Point. CIDNA’s web site already has shown a view of the northwest corner of Lake Calhoun from a boater’s point of view, shown below. A black line has been added at the height of Lake Point’s 15th floor, as well as a green box representing the height of a 10-story Brickstone building. This makes comparisons with the new 8-story Lakes building and the tree line possible.

 By Cem Erdem:  During the January 26th Public Hearing, when asked by an audience member about precedence, Brickstone representative responded by saying “Every project is evaluated on its own merit and we don’t believe there is a precedence issue”. Conflicting with their own statement from the Public Hearing, Dan Otis from Brickstone is using two previous city approvals as precedent and pushes to increase the height limit even further in his quote above: “With the previous approvals of 8 stories at 2622 W Lake St, and 6 stories at 3118 W Lake St, there is clearly precedent for both of these height concepts.”

There are 4-5 floor apartment buildings on Dean Parkway. If there is approval for Brickstone building, why would those property owners not think that they can also push for higher buildings? Calhoun Village Shopping Center, the mall where Barnes and Noble and Wallgreen is, would be a prime location for another high rise. If Brickstone’s high rise plans are pushed through the Shoreland Overlay ordinance, other builders will start sharpening their pencils for all the surrounding properties of lakes area that can be built higher.

Brickstone’s proposal doesn’t only impact its immediate surrounding neighbors but if it is approved, it will open gates to many other high rise projects around the lakes that will change the landscape of Minneapolis, the City of Lakes.

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The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Land Use Committee has been discussing a 200-unit apartment project with Brickstone Partners at 3100 West Lake Street since October 2016. Discussions about 26-, 21-, 16- and 13-story designs have been tabled for the time being. Six- and 9-story options also have been opposed by CIDNA for reasons of design and side yard. The CIDNA committee has considered a 10-story option with a wider side yard. No formal vote has been taken concerning the 10-story option, and the committee is seeking input from all stakeholders before a final vote and recommendation. Other options are still being considered. Discussions are currently focused on 5- to 8-story designs, but we are unclear about the direction of discussion.

Brickstone’s original 6-story concept opposed by CIDNA for reasons of design and side yard.  Source: Brickstone Partners and ESG Architects

 

Brickstone’s original 9-story concept opposed by CIDNA for reasons of side yard. Source: Brickstone Partners and ESG Architects

A 10-story design was discussed because Brickstone has insisted on a 200-unit project. CIDNA has sought to reduce project size, but the zoning ordinance provides the developer with good arguments for floor area. Perhaps the most effective way to fight the large project size is to fall back to a 5-story wood frame building, which would reduce floor area by 15%, but would result in a narrow side yard for the Loop. CIDNA has tried to avoid this tack so far.

Side yard is a big issue for this project because the Loop has faced adverse effects from the Trammell Crow project including $1.8 million of construction damage. The general sentiment of Loop residents is that a taller building would provide more open green space and move construction activity away from our building. In addition, height would offer the neighborhood high-quality construction with more elegant design. Previously, Loop representatives favored the 13-story concept, but the CIDNA Committee opposed this option.

Dan Otis of Brickstone Partners has provided the following quote for this article: “Brickstone remains committed to developing an extraordinary project at 3100 W Lake St.  It was clear, from the public meeting, many in the neighborhood supported a moderately taller structure due to the benefits to the community.  This support has not been well quoted for this article but many residents advocated at the meeting for moderate height of 8-10 stories. There were also many that were against the additional height.  Also, it is our understanding that the CIDNA Land Use Committee had tentatively approved a possible 10-story version of the project.  With the previous approvals of 8 stories at 2622 W Lake St, and 6 stories at 3118 W Lake St, there is clearly precedent for both of these height concepts.  We will continue to work with Councilwoman Goodman and the Land Use Committee to find a common ground on a project that will positively impact the neighborhood for many decades.”

Public Hearing:   Brickstone presented its project to the community in a public hearing on January 26. CIDNA heard many conflicting opinions. This is a complicated project affecting many important stakeholders.

Lake Point residents generally opposed the project. Susan Mewborn opposed the 9- and 13-story designs because their heights actually translate far above Lake Point’s 9th and 13 stories, with the latter reaching around Lake Point’s 18th story. Mark Scally, who lives on the 12th floor, said: “The 13-story would present a huge problem for precedent. The 6-story design makes more sense with a wider side yard. Two hundred units proposed by Brickstone are not preordained.”  But in a contrasting opinion, Carol Brandenburg, who lives on a lower floor facing the project, stated she would prefer her western view to be of a higher-quality building—and that she is very sympathetic to The Loop’s concerns—therefore she would support the 13-story option.

Many Loop residents spoke in favor of the 13-story design. Kerrie Acheson said that the 6- and 9-story designs would be too close to her patio, and that the 13-story would provide more attractive green space and views.

Irv Smith, resident of Calhoun-Isles Condominiums facing the project, spoke against a taller building.

Mike Elson from the Lake Calhoun sailing school stated that the Park Board is considering relocation of the sailing school to the northwest side of Lake Calhoun. Another tall building would further interfere with wind patters. Buildings should stay no higher than 5 stories in Mike’s opinion.

Traffic was a major concern expressed by many residents in the hearing. Leela Rao, of the Lake Point board of directors, stated that numerous new projects in the area would add to our traffic problems. She urged Brickstone to consider the safety of the neighborhood when designing the project. Richard Logan of West Calhoun spoke of the ongoing safety hazards and traffic violations near the project site.

Stacia Goodman, a single-family resident in CIDNA, strongly supports maintaining the existing, street-facing public art on the property or replacing it with new public art. She asked the developer to make a commitment to keeping such art truly public for all to see.

The Shoreland:   Despite new projects higher than 35 feet, the Shoreland ordinance has helped to limit height of projects on Lake Calhoun. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, developers proposed many projects of 20-, 30-, to 40-stories. Since passage of the Shoreland Overlay ordinance in the mid-1990’s, no very tall projects have been built in CIDNA. Nevertheless, building height in the shoreland is a major concern in the community, and many believe that even existing new projects are too high. David Williams, Lake Point resident at the public hearing, for example, stated that the Shoreland Overlay ordinance was intended to protect public views of the shoreland from the perspective of park users. He urged Brickstone to build a 6-story project.

Precedent:   Precedent continues to be of great concern to CIDNA. Despite the higher density goals for the urban plan in the Lake Street Corridor, the neighborhood will continue to fight tall buildings, and advocate for development that respects the context of the neighborhood. Many participants in this dialogue consider the 8-story Lakes Residence to be the maximum height standard. Vern Vander Weide of the CIDNA Land Use Committee strongly opposes a 10-story design for reasons of precedent: “A ten-story structure at 114 feet substantially exceeds anything in the immediate vicinity that was built after the height restrictions were imposed. It is 25 feet taller than The Lakes Residence and even taller than that relative to the Loop. The rationale is to increase setbacks. Setbacks are important to those in close proximity to a building, either as a resident of a neighboring building or those who walk through the area. Height is of great importance to everyone in our and adjoining neighborhoods. A 10-story building would represent a critical precedent for further development in the immediate area. Our neighborhood has been waging a war against height for over 40 years in order to protect the aesthetic effect of the lakes and our urban forest. I view a eight- or nine-story structure with a set-back of 23 feet as a reasonable compromise of the height versus set-back issue.”

Please send comments to corrickcidna@gmail.com for posting in the comments section of this website.

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Brickstone Partners has proposed a 200-unit apartment project on the site of the Ministers Life Building at 3100 West Lake Street. The site is located between Lake Point and Loop-Calhoun Condominiums. The developer has presented three design options for the community’s consideration, and has released new aerial perspectives to help the public understand the designs and massing concepts. Brickstone favors the 13-story option.

13-Story tower with a 100+ foot side yard facing Loop-Calhoun Condominiums. Source: Brickstone Partners and ESG Architects

9-Story tower with westerly 4-story extensions facing Loop-Calhoun Condominiums. Source: Brickstone Partners and ESG Architects

6-story wood frame building with west wall close to Loop-Calhoun Condominiums. Source: Brickstone Partners and ESG Architects

CIDNA Opposition: In preliminary discussions, the CIDNA Land Use and Development Committee has opposed all three designs. As Craig Westgate, President of CIDNA states, “A 13-story building would create a big precedent problem for our neighborhood because we have other sites nearby to be developed.” Edgewater and Lakes Residences, both 84 feet, are the tallest projects on Lake Calhoun since our zoning code was passed 25 years ago. Lake Point and the Calhoun Beach Club Apartments are not precedential because they were built prior to the zoning code. The site is located in the Shoreland Overlay District limiting height to 35 feet. The Committee also opposes 10-, 11- and 12-story versions. The Committee agrees with developer that the 13-story option would offer the best design and materials.

The Committee also opposes the 6- and 9-story designs, which locate 4- and 6-story walls 30 feet from the south Loop building. The 6-story option is particularly unattractive for the Committee reflecting poor design, large size, and low-quality building materials.

Lake Point Perspective: Lake Point residents are very concerned about the 9- and 13-story designs. Rodge Adams, Lake Point resident, says, “With the 13-story as presently designed, both Lake Point and Loop residents would face a massive structure taller than the east wall of the new Calhoun Beach Club Apartments.”

13-story tower with large wall that would face Lake Point and (on the west side) the Loop. Source: Brickstone Partners and ESG Architects

 

9-story tower with wall that would face Lake Point Source: Brickstone Partners and ESG Architects

6-story wood-frame building from the southeast. Source: Brickstone Partners and ESG Architects

Favoring the 13-Story: A minority of the Committee favors the 13-story design. Twelve residents are on CIDNA’s Committee with representatives from throughout the neighborhood including two from both Lake Point and Loop Condos. As Karen Stublaski, Loop resident, says: “The taller tower design would provide the community with an open green space between our properties.  We are also advocating for the greatest possible setback distance from the Loop because of the recent construction damage to our property from Trammell Crow development.  Lastly, the 13-story option would have the highest quality construction and provide the most access to sun, light, and air.” The architects on the Committee also favor the 13-story option reflecting their perspectives on design and urban planning.

CIDNA Compromise: The Committee has discussed a 9-story counter-proposal that would seek compromise between the homeowners associations, the larger CIDNA neighborhood, and the Shoreland community:

  1. Eliminate at least the westerly 50 feet from the two 4-story extensions on the west side of the 9-story tower. This modification would increase the minimum west side yard from 15 to 65 feet.
  2. Move the building slightly to the north, away from Lake Street, to improve the pedestrian environment and the visual connection with Lake Street.
  3. Reduce floor area by15% as a result of 1 and 2. No other floor area would be added.
  4. Make the entire project of Type 1 steel and concrete construction.
  5. Improve the design so that both the podium and the tower present an elegant, integrated, and attractive appearance, comparable in quality to the Edgewater and Lakes Residences projects.

With this counter-proposal, CIDNA would make a significant concession to exceed the 84-foot height precedents of Edgewater and Lakes Residences.

Brickstone Response: The developer is working on possible solutions. Dan Otis of Brickstone says: “While we believe the 13-story program allowed the greatest opportunity for CIDNA to most efficiently reach its goals, we are committed to further exploring the other two options with the committee. The request for a reduction of size related to the 9-story option makes it extremely difficult for us, and likely impossible, to deliver the concrete and steel construction that CIDNA would like to see. The type-1 construction of concrete and steel is significantly more expensive and requires a terminal density that was originally proposed of close to 200 units.   After studying the requests made by the committee, we believe there are variations to the original proposed 9-story concept that would accommodate our baseline need to keep the density consistent to our original proposals and also the committee’s desire to modify the massing.”

Floor Area: Should Brickstone fall back to wood-frame construction, CIDNA would oppose the 6-story design in part because it would be too large for the site. Informing this discussion would be the floor area that Brickstone could build without a significant conditional use permit to exceed the 35- and 56-foot height limits. Conditional use permits require the developer to consider factors such as shading, access to light and air, and character of the surrounding neighborhood. To satisfy these criteria, height of the fabric building should be reduced to 5 stories in order to respect heights of the adjacent south Loop building and Lake Calhoun Flats. In addition, to obtain a CUP that would exceed the Shoreland height limit, Brickstone should respect the same 25-foot westerly setback as Lake Calhoun Flats. By CIDNA’s calculations, Brickstone should reduce its floor area by 18% to meet these criteria.

Brickstone argues that its 6-story design should be permitted because it would be the same height as the Trammell Crow building to the west of the Loop. CIDNA rejects this argument. At 64 feet, the North Loop Building is the same height as Trammell Crow, with a 50-foot building separation. The south Loop building is only 55 feet high, compared with Trammell Crow’s 64-foot height, but with a side yard separation of 100+ feet. On the east side of the 5-story south Loop building, Brickstone is proposing a 6-story building with only 30 feet of separation. A 6-story Brickstone building should have much more side yard to exceed the height limit and to be one floor higher than the south Loop building.

Environmental Impact: Beside design, there are several other issues to be studied before CIDNA takes a final position on the project. The most salient issues include:

  • Traffic The existing entry to the site will be moved to the eastern property line, which could change traffic patterns at the Dean Parkway and Market Plaza intersections. In addition, residents are deeply concerned about traffic congestion and safety on Lake Street as a result of all the development that is being added in the area.
  • Mechanicals As with other projects, CIDNA will closely review auditory and visual impact of mechanicals including heating and air conditioning, emergency generators, and roof overruns for elevators and other mechanicals.
  • Excavation and Construction Methods The Loop Condos are very concerned about construction damage to their building. The Trammell Crow project, which CIDNA and the Loop supported in 2015, has caused $1.8 million of damage to the Loop. A lawsuit is pending. Brickstone is in discussions with the Loop regarding excavation methods and solutions. The developer also is seeking aerial and ground rights from the Loop for customary construction activities including a building crane.

Next Steps & Public Hearing: CIDNA will continue its dialogue with Brickstone and the community. Stakeholders are encouraged to attend CIDNA’s public hearing on January 26, 2017 at 6 p.m. at Jones Harrison Residence, Lakeview Room, 3700 Cedar Lake Avenue. The latest information and drawings will be presented at this public meeting. Please follow Committee activities, postings, and announcements on this blog by clicking the “Follow Us” button (below for smart phones and to the upper right above for full screen). Readers are encouraged to submit comments and ideas to corrickcidna@gmail.com.

Height Studies: Shown below are height studies  recently released by Brickstone to the public for the 6-, 9- and 13-story options.

Site Plans: Shown below are site plans recently released by Brickstone to the public for the 6-, 9- and 13-story options.

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James Lileks wrote an op ed in the Star Tribune on December 30 titled “Do we want big sun-blotting towers by Lake Calhoun? Yes! and no.”  It was also titled “The Right Place to go Tall” on December 29.  Here is Arlene Fried’s response.  She is a founding member of the organization opposing building height on our lakes.

James,

Regarding your recent article “The Right Place to go Tall” regarding height around Lake Calhoun, it is not so simple.  And you are wrong about it being the neighbors who were responsible  The passing of the Shoreland Height Ordinance was a citywide effort. I know because I was a board member of one of the two citizens’ groups that was instrumental in getting the ordinance passed.

I lived in Bryn Mawr but like many residents of Minneapolis, I felt a responsibility to preserve our natural resources from being exploited.  When a 24 story tower was proposed on the CBC’s property across from Lake Calhoun, the residents of Minneapolis revolted.  We did not want the profit motive converting Lake Calhoun into another Miami or Chicago with a ring of high rises dominating the lake.  We wanted to protect nature and all the wildlife that made Calhoun its home.

It took two years and two lawsuits to get the Shoreland Height Ordinance passed.  It was a huge accomplishment and I have two volumes of articles to prove it.  Barbara Flanagan was a supporter.  Linda Mack was a supporter.  Barbara Carlson was a supporter and, as a city council member, one of the reasons it was able to get the city’s support.

I am writing you because it is painful to see you so casually trivialize a major successful citizen effort.

Arlene Fried , A Founding Member of ELECT–Emergency Lakes Environmental Coalition Task Force

The original Shoreland Height Ordinance was passed on May 13, 1988 and published  in Finance and Commerce on that date. Don Fraser was Mayor and Alice Rainville was council president.

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Brickstone Partners has released afternoon shadow studies toward Lake Point to the east of its pending project at 3100 West Lake Street.  3100-w-lake-street_shadow-studies_afternoon

Comments for publication about the Brickstone project may be submitted to corrickcidna@gmail.com.  Please see comments to date at: https://cidnalanduse.wordpress.com/brickstone/comments/

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The following new information was released to the public by Brickstone in its presentation to the CIDNA Board of Directors on December 14:

Traffic Study:  This trip generation study compares current traffic, which results from commercial visits to the existing office building, with projected traffic, which would result from full occupancy of the new residential project.  In its presentation to CIDNA, Brickstone stated that a more complete study is forthcoming.

Shadow Study and Renderings:  This partial shadow study shows the effects of the three design options on the Loop Calhoun Condominiums to the west and the Lake Calhoun Flats Apartments to the north.  Brickstone has not stated weather additional shadow studies will be released, although attendees at the presentation requested more shadow studies to the east.  The shadow study is located on the last pages of the PDF.  Some new rendering perspectives of the three design options are included in the first pages.

Revised Metrics and Plans:  This PDF, according to Brickstone, includes additional and revised metrics and plans about the three design options.

If readers would like CIDNA to request other information from the developer for public review, please contact us at corrickcidna@gmail.com.

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The following post represents one person’s opinion from the perspective of a Lake Point Condominium owner.  Other readers and stakeholders are encouraged to submit well-written and respectful articles for publication on this website to Bob Corrick, Chair of the Land Use Committee, at corrickcidna@gmail.com. This posting, or other similar submissions, do not represent the opinion of CIDNA or its Land Use Committee.  Readers also may submit to the Comments section of this website (see right under Brickstone).  We intend to encourage thoughtful public dialogue.

 

By Rodgers Adams
(a Lake Point resident)

The proposed Brickstone development on the site of the Lake Pointe Corporate Center (with the large green chairs in front) is triggering reaction from a variety of stakeholders. Among them are contrasting reactions from two large condo building on each side of the site.

Perhaps the problems for Lake Point owners are not easily visualized and understood because most people are not aware of the layout of Lake Point units and the views that are visible from those units. This has led, for example, to the Brickstone architect’s misleading suggestion that Lake Point is not much affected by the new building because there are no picture windows in the wall closest to the project. In an effort to help folks visualize the impact on Lake Point, I have put together some illustrations.

The first illustration supplements the drawings of the project as viewed from Lake St., which suggest that the 13-story option is a narrow tower-like building. In fact, the sides of the building are quite long, extending from near Lake St. west to near the Calhoun Flats apartment building. In fact, the side view of the building is similar in height and length to the side of the Calhoun Beach Club Apartments along Thomas Av. This massive “wall” along Thomas has been criticized by many for its overpowering ugliness. For comparison, the red line to the left below represents the approximate length of the Brickstone 13-story proposal. That line is duplicated and moved to Thomas Av. to show that it is almost as long as the apartment “wall” there.
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-7-55-45-am

Because the Brickstone 13-story wall is so long, it can have a major impact on views from Lake Point. It is not simply a matter of an additional tower in the view, but an almost complete blocking of the views to the southwest and west.

This first illustration shows the existing view from a 10th floor unit’s kitchen dining table, used for most of the residents’ meals. The shaded red area shows that most of the view to the southwest and west from that window would be blocked.

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-7-53-43-am

The second illustration shows the existing view from a 10th floor living room window, visible from part of a corner couch. (There is a similar view from the unit’s balcony, except that it doesn’t extend as far to the right because of the structure of the Lake Point building.)  Here the blockage is even greater than in the kitchen, because this window is closer to the midpoint of the new building.

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-11-03-47-am

The impact on views is only one issue to be resolved regarding the Brickstone project, but it seems clear that the project would have a substantial impact on the valuation of some units, which are marketed for their views. A more complete analysis is difficult because no information has been provided regarding which Lake Point floors would be able to see over the top of a 13-story Brickstone building (or a 9-story building). The base elevations of the two buildings are different, as are the heights of various floors.

I realize that Lake Point residents are not neutral observers of this proposal, but I hope these illustrations can lead to a fuller understanding of the issues involved.

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