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Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 5th, 2019, 2:47 pm
by twincitizen
It was noted in the downtown retail thread that the owners are seeking a variance to the Nicollet Mall overlay requiring a minimum 60% retail frontage. This application goes to the ZBA, rather than Planning Commission. Kinda weird, but I'm guessing that is because it is a standalone variance not related to another land use application (site plan approval, CUP, etc.)

Here's the agenda: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/zba/WCMSP-220034
Meeting is this Thursday, 8/8 at 4:30pm. If you have the free time, please write or show up to oppose this variance request.

Staff is recommending denial of the variance. I trust that the Planning Commission would probably go with staff's recommendation, but I'm less sure about the ZBA. They usually decide on relatively minor matters like setbacks for residential decks and porches, not major downtown considerations like this. I'm kinda worried they maybe aren't as strong on matters of urbanism, active frontages, etc. I'm not saying the people on the ZBA are dummies, just that they very rarely deal with anything commercial/retail related, let alone downtown on Nicollet Mall.

Retail use of this building is so critical to un-suck Nicollet Mall in this area. The Xcel buildings will forever suck with their lack of retail space. The much vaunted Gateway development barely has retail space, and what it does have will inevitably be connected to the hotel. This area is a total dead zone and only this building can save it.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 5th, 2019, 8:22 pm
by Silophant
Huh. The staff report says they're asking for a variance from both the 60% retail floor area and 60% retail frontage, but their narrative says they're just asking for a variance on the floor area. I don't know if that's actually their plan, or if they're just being unclear. I wouldn't actually care about the floor area, if they want to line the mall with tiny little spaces and use the back half for something else, that's fine with me. The retail frontage, though, is vital.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 9:18 am
by amiller92
I'm trying to understand what the drawing shows for the first level. Are they asking to use the bulk of the first floor as a lobby?

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 7th, 2019, 10:50 am
by twincitizen
Same. The application language and drawings don’t do a good job explaining what they are actually proposing. Like if they want a minor variance to reduce the retail to 40% of the the first floor area (instead of the required 60%), that’s probably fine. But if they want no retail or one tiny ass space with bad frontage, that’s really bad. But it’s near impossible to tell what they’re proposing, and I do this for a living

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 7th, 2019, 12:53 pm
by minntransplant
twincitizen wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 10:50 am
Same. The application language and drawings don’t do a good job explaining what they are actually proposing. Like if they want a minor variance to reduce the retail to 40% of the the first floor area (instead of the required 60%), that’s probably fine. But if they want no retail or one tiny ass space with bad frontage, that’s really bad. But it’s near impossible to tell what they’re proposing, and I do this for a living
It appears that is exactly what they are proposing. They want a variance from the requirement altogether so they can try to lease the ground level as office/medical. I'm not sure why they don't just market it as office/medical now, get a prospect lined up, and then come begging for the variance. They don't have anything concrete on the table. Hopefully the city rejects it.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 7th, 2019, 12:56 pm
by grant1simons2
Christ

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 14th, 2019, 10:01 am
by Silophant
Does anyone know what happened with this? The boards and committees page hasn't been updated with actions taken for anything more recent than the 8/5 CPC meeting.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 10:34 am
by Silophant
Heard from the DMNA coordinator that the variance was denied. So that's a relief. Hopefully they don't even bother appealing, and instead just temper their expectations and figure out how to get the space filled.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 10:54 am
by luigipaladio
In principle, this is good news, but it will take some doing to fill the retail/commercial space. The partial remake of City Center and the Dayton’s project could stall filling the retail space here for a very long time. I hope they can do it. The building is a gem - especially above the ground floor.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 11:02 am
by SurlyLHT
If HopCat can work..why not this space?

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 11:22 am
by MNdible
From their submission:
Among other challenges, the Property does not have a loading dock or other access point that allows for delivery to the Property, which is a practical necessity for most every retail or restaurant operation. More specifically, the Property’s unique positioning at the junction of Nicollet Mall and Fifth Street, situated adjacent to a major stop for the light rail, makes it impractical if not impossible to install a loading dock. Due to this unique positioning, any supplier trucks would be face great difficulty in accessing the Property even if a loading dock were to be installed.

Another unique difficulty facing the Property relates to the significant renovations of Nicollet Mall over the past several years. The Mall improvements and layout have left RSO without sufficient space to build patio space for outdoor seating. Valet parking is also unavailable at the Property, which, given the limited available parking nearby, significantly decreases the likelihood that a restaurant would find success at the Property. In attempts to find tenants for the ground level, RSO has received direct feedback from one restauranteur that, while he liked the space and location of the Property, he could not feasibly open a restaurant at the Property given these space limitations.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 12:49 pm
by mattaudio
It looks like Lyons or Murrays can make it work by having trucks load *in the same exact alley that borders this building* https://goo.gl/maps/Ju6RkgrNbvEh4uNT6

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 1:08 pm
by alexschief
Huh, is this not a loading space? Underground parking? No option to unload there and move up by elevator?

Certainly a bit weird that only this building has these constraints when plenty of other retail spaces seem to manage in similar conditions.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 1:48 pm
by MNdible
You'd have to think that, as a landlord, they'd prefer to lease to a restaurant given that the rent would be higher than some of the other users they'd consider if they got this variance. I'm not going to argue their case for them, just noting the reasons that they've presented (and how it's different than the HopCat space).

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 2:18 pm
by mattaudio
How did Hamlin's Cafe do it when they were in this space for 80+ years?

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 3:30 pm
by MNdible
Turns out, people don't build new restaurants the way they used to 80+ years ago.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 7:31 pm
by grant1simons2
And people won't be delivering the same in 5-10 years

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 19th, 2019, 9:11 pm
by LakeCharles
It is a bit strange that a restaurant functioned in this exact space for a very long time, and a current restaurant and a bar continue to function with the exact same alley constraints as this, yet this particular space is the odd one out.

Re: Renaissance Square / The Andrus

Posted: August 20th, 2019, 7:03 am
by EOst
It's not a question of whether it could function, because obviously a very motivated person could operate a restaurant in there if they were willing. It's a question of whether any restaurant would choose the space given the abundance of other large restaurant spaces (both on the Mall and elsewhere) that do not have those constraints.