A pair of Illinois developers want to build a 27-story apartment tower in downtown Minneapolis on the same block as a 22-story tower the companies are already developing.
If built, the 27-story tower would include a row of three-story live-work units and a green roof with walking paths. It would replace the 21st Century bank building at the corner of Hennepin and Washington avenues.
The project is being proposed by a partnership including CA Ventures and Harlem Irving. Plans submitted to the Minneapolis Planning Commission’s Committee of the Whole call for a tower with 432 living units in the tower that will sit atop a larger base with several levels of parking and about 6,000 square feet of commercial space including a corner retail space and three live-work units.
The tower, which was designed by Minneapolis-based ESG Architects, would be primarily clad with glass, but would also include several other elements including weathered steel panels and perforated metal screens. The developers didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The project was first presented to the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association area on Tuesday and is scheduled to be reviewed by the Planning Commission’s committee of the whole on Thursday. Christie Rock Hantge, neighborhood coordinator for the DMNA, said the group’s land use committee is drafting a letter of support for the preliminary concept plan.
The development team has several projects on the drawing board in the Twin Cities including the 22-story tower next door and a project in the Dinkytown neighborhood. CA Ventures said in January that it wants to build a 27-story tower at 200 SE. Central Av. in the heart of the St. Anthony Falls Historic District in Minneapolis where another developer scuttled plans to build a 40-story condo tower.
The building comes at a tenuous time for the downtown housing market. Thousands of new units are in the pipeline, rental-vacancy rates are on the rise and the COVID-19 pandemic has left most downtown office buildings empty.
A survey by Marquette Advisors said the average vacancy rate in downtown Minneapolis during the second quarter was 6.4%, an increase of 2 percentage points compared with last year but still lower than 2015. That figure is expected to increase. Developers have pitched an additional 2,300-plus units in the downtown area this year, but it’s unclear how many of those projects will get built.
Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research in downtown Minneapolis, said that with so many units in the pipeline she’s already concerned about the ability of the area to absorb new units.
“No one has a good handle at this point on the fallout from COVID on the office/employment market in downtown,” she said. “We have restaurants that are shuttering and leaving the downtown because of the unrest. I think that we are in a tenuous situation here with regards to the market and employment.”