Support Letter for Development at 801 15th Avenue SE

June 17, 2020

Sam Rockwell
President, City Planning Commission
250 South 4th Street Room 350
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Re: Development Proposal at 801 15th Avenue SE (800 14th Avenues SE/808 14th Avenue SE/1415 8th Street SE) – Redevelopment of Wilderness Inquiry in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood

Dear Mr. Rockwell,

On May 5, 2020 and on June 10, 2020, GD UP Minneapolis, LLC (a joint venture of UP Campus Properties and Gilbane Development Company) and Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. presented a development proposal to the MHNA Land Use and Development Committee. The proposed development includes the redevelopment of Gorshe Auto Body, Wilderness Inquiry, and an existing 3-story apartment building at 801 15th Avenue SE. The development proposal includes a 274-unit, 12-story (11-story at 14th Avenue SE), multifamily building with enclosed parking ramp.

The project development team has done an exceptional job of meeting the goals of the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan and the 15th Avenue SE Small Area Plan of the approved Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Master Plan. The project team have been very receptive to proposed suggestions of the Land Use Committee.

The MHNA Land Use and Development Committee and the MHNA Board of Directors supports the Land Use Application for this project including the following requests:

  • Rezoning from the R5 Multiple-Family District and I1 Light Industrial District to the OR3 Institutional Office Residence District

  • Conditional Use Permit to increase the height of the building from 6 stories/84 feet to 12 stories/141.75 feet – consistent with Transit 15 Built Form

  • Variance to increase the maximum floor area ratio from 4.2 to 6.71 – building bulk reflects the intent of the Transit 15 Built Form

  • Variance to reduce the required front yard along 15th Avenue SE from 15 feet to 0 feet - consistent with Transit 15 Built Form

  • Variance to reduce the required front yard along 14th Avenue SE from 15 feet to 0 feet - consistent with Transit 15 Built Form

  • Variance to reduce the corner side yard setback along 8th Street SE from the required 15 feet to 0 feet – consistent with Transit 15 Built Form

  • Variance to reduce the north interior side yard setback from the required 27 feet to 10 feet for the building and to 0 feet for mechanical equipment and a dog run – several Land Use Committee members expressed concern about the proximity to railroad corridor and access for emergency vehicles

  • Lot coverage variance from 70 percent to 83.3 percent

  • Impervious surface variance from 85 percent to 90 percent

  • Site plan review

    One variance that continues to concern members of the Land Use Committee is the variance of parking. The development requires 367 spaces in the University Area Overlay District and is providing 202 spaces for the residential use. The project development team is providing the following mitigation:

  • A Travel Demand Management Plan (TDMP)

  • Three electric shared cars for residents

  • 862 long term bike parking spaces (inside) and 52 short term bike parking spaces (outside)

  • 41 moped/scooter parking space (inside)

  • Robust rideshare drop-off and pick-up on 14th Avenue SE

  • New bus shelters per Metro Transit’s “Better Bus Stop” program

    We discussed a number of items that would improve the project that are being considered by the project development team including:

  • More articulation of the building façade

  • Adjusting the massing at the 14th Avenue SE corner

  • Improved lighting at 14th Avenue SE and the 15th Avenue SE underpass

  • Improved crosswalk marking at the intersection of 15th Avenue SE and 8th Street SE to improve the safety for pedestrians and bicyclists

    Thank you for considering our input to this project’s Land Use Application. We look forward to working with the project development team.