There's a 5.4 acre site that sits along Hennepin Avenue East sandwiched between University Avenue NE and 5th Street NE and spans two full city blocks. A site that looks... well... quite barren at the moment and simply nothing more than a sea of concrete. It's not that it's a site that has abandoned by the city but rather it's the site of the former home of the Superior Plating Company. A site that has required EXTENSIVE clean up due to contaminated soil.
But now it's clean and ready for development. The problem... it needs a developer that is willing to develop what the surrounding community desires on site. That's proven to be a challenge.
Last year the site was slated to be redeveloped by a Florida based developer who intended to construction some 500 units of residential housing on site with ground floor commercial space. The problem? Six story stick frame construction to put it plain and simple. The neighborhood doesn't want that and to be honest we don't blame them.
Northeast is far too vibrant of a community to see another six story project go up that seem to be scattered all across, in every nook and cranny, of the entire city of Minneapolis. No. What NE needs is something that is vibrant, dense, and iconic. One of the reasons that project from the previous developer was not approved was the fact that it wasn't dense enough and it wasn't of quality construction.
What NE wants for the site is something similar to whats already being proposed in their neighborhood... right down the black actually. That's where Alatus is planning to build a 35 story 300 unit housing project on a one acre site that currently is home to McReavy Funeral Home. That type of density is what the NE community desires for the Superior Plating site.
Next up to plate to develop the site is Lennar Multifamily Communities, a national developer that already has a presence in the surrounding suburbs with large single family home developers and now is beginning to dip into apartment style communities like the 200 unit project being developed in Edina. But does Lennar have experience in developing what NE really desires?
From the projects shown above, something begins to be evident. Lennar is a pro in developing six story projects that look similar to what is being developed elsewhere in Minneapolis. However, third ward city council member Jacob Frey has reiterated over and over that development of a six story wooden structure will NOT be approved.
What the Superior Plating site might allow Lennar to be able to do is show a completely new side to themselves. Last year the company identified that it would invest over $1 billion dollars in multifamily development in the next few years alone. But will the NE site be the first time the Lennar really challenges itself to truly think big?
Jacob Frey also identified that the community is looking for a project that is not only dense and large in its scale, but one that also will stand for the next "100 years." The community is looking for a quality building made of quality materials. Ultimately what they mean is a skeleton made of steel and concrete. That adds huge expense to any project and ultimately when projects encounter those costs they end up becoming very large in order to offset the costs.
That's just what Northeast Minneapolis wants for their community. Now all we can do is what and see what is presented by Lennar Multifamily Communities to the city of MInneapolis in the coming months.
Think big Lennar... and in turn you'll get to develop one of the most development primed sites in the city of Minneapolis.