New Dinkytown complex aims for affordability, slated to open in summer 2014


There’s another apartment complex springing up near the University of Minnesota, but it isn’t as high end as other new developments.

The unnamed Dinkytown project will have 12 townhome-style units and is designed to be more affordable for students.

The development, which will replace houses on the corner of 15th Avenue and Seventh Street, is slated to open in summer 2014.

In light of the number of luxury apartments popping up in the area, the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association is seeking more affordable housing options for students, according to association President Doug Carlson.

“We would like to see more affordable housing, no question about it. Everything that seems to be getting built right now is pretty costly,” he said. “Nobody seems to be interested in building affordable housing.”

The Minneapolis Planning Commission approved the project proposal in January, despite the MHNA’s requests for a higher-density project. The group was looking for an 8- to 10-story building, but land owners thought it would be too expensive.

Tim Harmsen, co-owner of Dinkytown Rentals, said the monthly cost of bedrooms in the project would range from about $630 to $650 each.

It’s cheaper than other new developments, for example, Doran Companies’ The Bridges, where rent will range from $900 per month for a studio to $2,000 for a two-bedroom unit.

“We want to provide a quality product at a more normal price, a reasonable price,” Harmsen said. “Not at eight or $900 a bedroom.”

Ward 3 Councilwoman Diane Hofstede said having a range of housing options is important, but the city doesn’t have much of a say.

“Certainly I think that housing should be affordable, but the developers own the land, [and] they can develop whatever they want to,” she said.

Haila Maze, a Minneapolis city planner, said that it’s city policy to encourage a wide range of housing, but the city ultimately has no control over what developers come up with.

“We’re sort of observers,” she said. “As the city, we have no control over the rents.”

Because luxury apartments for students have had so few vacancies, Maze said, developers keep building them.

Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon said in a January interview with the Minnesota Daily that he’s worried students and their parents may be accruing debt in order to live close to campus.

“I have a concern that we’re now kind of merging the college debt somehow with the housing market and housing debt,” he said.

Still, $650 may be too much for some students. Ross Chicantek, a senior who lives in Marcy-Holmes, said he might have to move away from campus after graduation because rent is too high.

“I just don’t have the funds to pay $600 a month,” he said. “I’d have to go somewhere else.”

With the project focused on mid-level pricing, developers may pay more attention to less luxurious units, Maze said.

“The hope is at least that with these units coming, there will be other opportunities in the neighborhood to have the more moderate-priced ones,” she said.