Blaine approves revised apartment building plans

The Blaine City Council April 17 unanimously agreed to amend a conditional use permit for an apartment building it approved a year ago.

The developer of a proposed apartment building wants to use a flat-roof design because this is what it is seeing in the Twin Cities market. The new concept includes 191 units. Courtesy of City of Blaine

The developer of a proposed apartment building wants to use a flat-roof design because this is what it is seeing in the Twin Cities market. The new concept includes 191 units .Courtesy of City of Blaine

The apartment building north of Clover Leaf Parkway and west of Ulysses Street was going to have 182 units and a pitched roof. It will now have 191 units for rent and a flat roof. The building footprint is the same, according to City Manager Clark Arneson.

Dennis Cornelius, of Amcon Construction, said people in the market said the trend in the apartment market has been flat roofs because it is more of an urban design than a pitched roof.

“It has a lot more of an urban exterior to it. It’s a lot more similar to what you’d find being built in Minneapolis right now,” Arneson told the council, adding that the exterior design and building materials still meets the city’s Highway 65 overlay district requirements.

Most of the council liked the new design. Councilmember Dick Swanson said this is the design you would see in suburbs.

“These young mobile people coming in like this look,” Councilmember Russ Herbst said.

On the other hand, Councilmember Wes Hovland said the flat roof design is different than other large-scale residential buildings that have been built in Blaine and he wondered how it would fit into the neighborhood.

“Personally I don’t like the look of this building compared to what you brought in before with the pitched roof,” Councilmember Dave Clark said. “The pitched-roof to me said better high-end quality development than the flat roof design you got here.”

Cornelius said most commercial properties near this planned apartment building have flat roofs, so he feels it will fit into the neighborhood.

How well it fits in with the Teamsters Local 120 with be closely monitored. The Teamsters will be allowed to use up to 50 outdoor parking stalls at the apartment complex 12 times a year for its monthly meetings because of an agreement it signed with the property owner – Baldwin Partners – in 2007.

The Teamsters building was on one of three parcels the council approved in 2007. The other two lots were zoned for planned industrial/planned commercial, but the landowner was unable to market these sites to commercial developers due to the far setback from Highway 65. The apartment building came up as an alternative proposal, Planning and Community Development Director Bryan Schafer informed the council in March 2013.

The council March 7, 2013 approved a property rezoning to high density residential and it approved a conditional use permit for the 182-unit apartment building.

There would have been 425 parking stalls for the 182-unit proposal, of which 170 would have been in an underground garage and 255 outdoors.

The new proposal includes 429 parking stalls for the 191 units. There will be 142 underground parking stalls, 26 stalls in an above-ground detached garage and 261 outdoor parking spaces.

Arneson said because this was a modest amendment, the Blaine Planning and Zoning Commission had no public hearing, but the same people as before were notified including the Teamsters.

Nobody from the Teamsters or the public made any comments at the April 17 council meeting.

Arneson pointed out that should there be parking problems during these monthly meetings, there is enough space where 50 additional parking stalls could be constructed on the apartment building property.

“We feel this site is adequately parked, but if necessary and the council orders it, these spaces could be put in,” Arneson said. “There could be some parking management issues when it opens, but that’s between the two users down there.”

Mayor Tom Ryan said Aquatore Park could be another parking option. The Teamsters have been utilizing part of the Northern Tool and Equipment lot the service road for overflow parking.

Cornelius said there are open areas on site to store snow plowed from the parking areas.

Cornelius said final construction documents still need to be completed and approval is still needed from the Coon Creek Watershed District, but said site grading optimally will start in July or August and the building would open in the summer of 2015.

The development will include a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and studio apartments, although the one-bedroom and two-bedroom options each comprise around 40 percent of the total development.

An exercise room, a meeting room that can be rented out for parties and an outdoor pool are some of the amenities that will be available.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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