Bottineau Neighborhood Association (BNA) has a long history of support for building new affordable housing, so it apparently caught developers and Council Member Steve Fletcher off guard to hear opposition to the latest proposal for housing at 2301 California Street NE. The issues germane to the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District are these:
1. Inadequate production space. The building, which promises 164 units of multi-bedroom housing for various income levels including many affordable, would be in an I-1 zone (industrial). The developers propose about 13,000 square feet of “production” space, about 5% of the project, a stretch even for the new 2040 Plan definition of Production/Mixed Use. The property should be mainly industrial. As guardians of the city-created Arts District, it’s our duty to advocate for both preservation and expansion of space used to produce art. The answer is somewhere in between.
2. Poor planning of the main entrance in proximity to the California Building’s loading dock. Trash goes out, supplies come in, large art pieces get transported through the loading dock. Not a welcoming environment, and both buildings would tie up each other’s in-out traffic.
3. No outdoor play or green space for children in a building built to house children. The solution to this ties in to our #2 and highlights another of the neighbors’ concerns. The building mass is an impermeable wall. Break it up, put the entrance at the center along California Street or create a green courtyard for the kids and shorten the building with entrance and green space at the north end.
In a Zoom meeting with residents on Sept. 24, the developers from LS Black were remarkably unwavering, saying they’d thought about but rejected all of the solutions as being not economically feasible.
They need variances, concessions from the city, in order to build. The developer is asking for a zoning change (to add an industrial living overlay district which allows the housing) and conditional use permits and height variance to exceed the maximum allowed height of four stories (they want six).
It’s time for the Council Member and other public officials to do their homework, step in and look for other ways to get a good project that meets neighborhood goals as well as the city’s and the developers’ goals.
LS Black did decide to put $150,000 into purchasing indoor and public art, this is a good starting point but much more needs to be considered. A building in the Arts District should be well thought out as to what they want to do with the arts, not just throw out terms like production space. Clarity of ideas is key to successful concepts.
The public comment period ends October 5th. We still urge the public to contact Council Member Fletcher:steve.fletcher@minneapolismn.