CEDAR ISLSLES DEAN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
LAND USE AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
CONSIDERATION OR PRELIMINARY MASSING CONCEPTS
APARTMENT PROJECT BY BIGOS DEVELOPMENT AT THOMAS & W. LAKE ST.
JANUARY 23, 12012
Ted Bigos, Bigos Management
Tod Elkins, UrbanWorks Architecture
Jeffrey Flake, Bigos Management
David Stahl, UrbanWorks Architecture
Michael Wilson, CIDNA Board, and Land Use and Development Committee
Joan Soranno, CIDNA Land Use and Development Committee
Brad Frederiksen, CIDNA Land Use and Development Committee
Stephen Goltry, CIDNA Board , and Land Use and Development Committee
Jackie Cherryhomes, Cherryhomes-Tyler, Political advisor for Bigos, and Registered Lobbyist
Bob Corrick, Chair of CIDNA Land Use and Development Committee
Jackie Cherryhomes inquired whether attendees were residents of CIDNA. It was confirmed that all neighborhood participants in this meeting were from CIDNA. This was a presentation to the CIDNA Land Use and Development Committee. Committee members attending included two residents with property close to the project and 3 residents located elsewhere in CIDNA. No other guests were attending. 5 participants and professionals represented the Bigos Development team.
Tod Elkins opened the meeting with an invitation for Ted Bigos to describe his philosophy about the project. Ted responded briefly by stating that the project consisted of a large higher-end apartment rental development. Bigos Development owns or manages about 70,000 apartments. He believes that the Weisman property is one of the finest apartment sites in Minneapolis. The property represents an opportunity for a large, high-quality architectural effort.
CIDNA inquired about Ted’s philosophy concerning the surrounding character and context of the site such as the Midtown Greenway, historic waters, park district, Shoreland Overlay, and R-1 residences. Ted did not address his philosophy about these issues, other than to say that the property represents an outstanding building site.
UrbanWorks presented two preliminary massing concepts as discussed below.
The first option represented the Bigos team’s preferred alternative: a tower (height to be determined) on the southeast corner of the site with two stories of parking on the footprint of the site (one parking level underground). The proposal included 170 units (compared with 150 units that were discussed in our initial meeting on December 19). The concept included160,000 s.f. for residential apartments plus 80,000 s.f. for parking, a total 240,000 s.f. There were about 220 parking spaces. It was a massing model with a few bays and bumps, but by no means the end style.
The idea was to minimize the footprint, keep building mass away from the neighbors, giving the building an iconic look. The building was pushed away from the Calhoun Beach Club to protect the R-6 residents in Calhoun Beach Club, and provide lake views for the renters from the south, east and west sides of the building. Amenities would be activated along West Lake. There would be generous landscaping on top of the parking deck. All trees would be retained. They believe that it was important to have the entry of the building at the southwest corner. The parking entry would be on the back portion of Thomas. There was no commercial space planned because of the parking problem.
CIDNA inquired about the rental price point. The Bigos team responded that rent would be $2.25 per square foot, which would be $2,200 to $2,500 per month. They went on to say that that the problem with high-rise is that it is expensive. The Knox project is higher than $2 per foot.
Bigos stated that Minneapolis has become one of the top apartment markets in the country. The bad news is that the market may become overbuilt. Apartment projects in Minneapolis require patient money. The vacancy rate in Minneapolis is 2%. Bigos added that the whole mood of renting has changed…that it is ok to rent rather than to buy.
Depending on the height of the building, studies presented at the meeting showed that there would be significant shadowing of the Greenway, and perhaps the Effrem home (the first blue house north of the Greenway) during the period around the winter solstice.
A stacked pancake-style building was presented with a wall on the Greenway and a building structure angling to the southeast corner (a modified “L” shape). This structure would optimize views of the lake by apartment renters, although views would not be so panoramic as the tower option. The entry element was at the corner of Thomas. There would be 150 units totaling 160,000 s.f. of residential space and 80,000 s.f. of parking. Views of Lake Calhoun from the Greenway would be significantly more obstructed with this option than with the Tower.
Shadow studies were not presented for this massing concept, and it would need to be reviewed by the Committee at the next meeting if the Developer continues to present this option as viable.
The Bigos team supports a connection from Thomas to the Greenway.
The Bigos team several times emphasized that the size of the project must be 150 to 170 units reflecting the economic reality of construction and land cost. CIDNA stated that project size and height does not start with economics but rather with zoning and the surrounding character of the neighborhoods and public spaces, which then drive the economic model. The economic model should not be the only determinant of size and height. All of the stakeholders probably will need to compromise in this process, including even the seller of the land, who is pushing for a higher price. CIDNA stated that the Weisman property is unique, in that it not only is adjacent to the Calhoun Beach Club Apartments, but it is also close to parks, the Midtown Greenway, historic and recreational waters, and R-1 residents. No other recent project (e.g., Edgewater, Knox, Ackerberg-Village Green, Mosaic, Mathwig) has this complex context.
Preliminary Committee Feedback:
CIDNA offered preliminary feedback for these two massing concepts, subject to further deliberation by the Committee, the CIDNA Board, and solicitation of input from the community.
- Of the two options presented, the more slender tower may represent better architectural treatment of the space. A tall tower, however, is likely to invite controversy from the community. The Committee has previously stated that the structure should be no taller than 84 feet, which was the previously approved height of the Lander project. A tall building next to the Calhoun Beach Club Apartments, a negative icon in the community, would invite much controversy. A tall tower higher than the Calhoun Beach Club Apartments would not be viewed favorably by the community.
- The L-Shaped option appeared more invasive to the Greenway and R-1 residents. In addition, the L-Shape, with simple stacked apartment floors, offered no aesthetic appeal.
- Is a third option possible?…Not a tower, and not an unattractive 8-story stack, with a high wall facing the Greenway and R-1 residences. UrbanWorks invited CIDNA to propose a third option. When the Lander structure was offered, the Bigos team stated that it was not functional or economically feasible. CIDNA still likes the stepped approach of the Lander proposal.
- Both options seem to ignore many of the design principles previously presented by CIDNA including building height, mass, and shadowing. CIDNA has been very specific about these principles. Both options were requiring the neighborhood to evaluate a project that would be higher and larger than either of the two previously proposed Lander projects (240,000 s.f. Bigos proposal vs. 225,000 s.f. initially proposed by Lander, and 195,000 finally approved by the City and the Planning Commission)
- Consider locating the tower on the southwest corner of the site, rather than the southeast corner. Location on the southwest corner would provide the most respect for the character of the Greenway, parks and R-1 neighborhood to the north, a key factor in granting a conditional use permit to exceed the 56-foot height limitation for OR2 zoning, and the 36-foot height limit for the Shoreland Overlay District.
The Bigos team will meet with the Committee in three weeks to present revised massing concepts, which will reflect preliminary input from the Committee. The meeting date and time will be Monday, February 13, 8 a.m. In the next meeting, CIDNA is anticipating that massing options presented by the Bigos team should include meaningful changes in terms of size, height, and design–not cosmetic changes, which simply would modify the appearance of existing options already presented.
SOUTHWEST CORNER: The following four factors favor location of the tower on the southwest corner if the site:
1) Views and Light: Mass and presence of the tower on the southeast corner is more invasive to the R-1 residences to the north. Views and light are generally significantly more obstructed. (The southwest corner is further away from, and more hidden from, R-1 residences and perhaps Greenway users.)
2) Proximity to other high-density uses: Location on the southwest corner would place the tower closest to other high-density uses. The prevalent zoning practice in Minneapolis and most other cities is to place similar uses together: high density close to other high density. (For this reason, the highest tower of the Lander project was placed next the Calhoun Beach Club.)
3) Park Lands: Placement on the southwest corner would be less invasive to adjacent park land.
4) Shadowing: Placement on the southwest corner probably would minimize shadowing of the Greenway, R-1 residences and park. A Conditional Use Permit is granted subject to “shadowing of residential properties, or significant public spaces” (see Ordinance)
SOUTHEAST CORNER: Location of tower on the southeast corner initially proposed by the Bigos team:
- Might be more consistent with the “Vancouver Model”
- Provides better views of Lake Calhoun to many R-6 residents not only in the existing Calhoun Beach Cub Apartments but also in the proposed tower.
- Residences on West 28th Street directly north or the project (such as the Raudy’s at 2701 and the Frederiksen/Rice’s at 2621) may benefit from location of a the tower on the southeast corner. Perspectives must be studied when the options are clear
*This draft is subject to review and comment by the attendees and approval by the CIDNA Land Use and Development Committee. The Bigos team is evaluating alternative project designs based on preliminary input from CIDNA, so the design concepts presented herein do not represent formal proposals by Bigos Development.