CB2 development In Uptown moves forward

The CB2 project got the go-ahead from the Minneapolis Planning Commission on December 13 to construct a new building in Calhoun Square despite objections by Uptown citizen groups. CARAG and ECCO said the one-story structure conflicts with the USAP (Uptown Small Area Plan) that recommends three to five story buildings in Uptown's core.

At the November 1 Planning Commission meeting the case was laid over for six weeks based on CARAG and ECCO's opposition and arguments. The Commission asked Calhoun Square and CB2 to examine alternatives, including structural reinforcement to allow a future second story addition. On December 13, when Calhoun Square and CB2 agreed to such structural reinforcement, even though the City couldn't require it, the Planning Commission voted to retract this request.

Carol Lansing, legal counsel representing Calhoun Square, told the Planning Commission and observers that there is no legal basis for denying the application. Planning Division staff, Kimberly Holien, concurred there is no language in the zoning code that requires a minimum height or floor area ratio. At the November 1 and December 13 meetings, however, she did not address or clarify whether USAP, which was adopted as part of the City's comprehensive plan, supersedes the zoning code. City Council Member Gary Schiff who sits on the Planning Commission indicated the zoning code probably needs to be amended.

The new store will be at the northeast corner of 31st Street and Hennepin Avenue replacing the current brick building that will be demolished. A project start in Spring 2011 is planned with a November completion. CB2, owned by Crate & Barrel, is a retailer of  affordable, hip home furnishings.

Community representatives at both Commission meetings emphasized that they encourage private development and would welcome a CB2 store but urge it conform to the meticulously crafted USAP. A statement submitted by several CARAG Zoning Committee members states that "the CB2 project does not come close to conforming to the policies and framework of the USAP- a clear guide/blueprint for Uptown development--and of the Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth (MPSG). Therefore, we remain vitally concerned about the project's failure to efficiently utilize a prime commercial site and a gateway to Uptown with vertically mixed uses in a way that ensures long term sustainable growth in this important commercial district."

Apartments at Lake and Knox

Demolition of existing buildings at the northeast corner of Lake Street and Knox Avenue has started the process of building a five story, 56 foot tall, 55 unit apartment building.

The City Council approved the project in August 2009, denying the appeal of four Uptown neighborhood associations. They objected to the building's height which exceeds that permitted in USAP.

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