I attended the entire meeting and I thought it went well. This is written from memory and from my perspective which is very much in favor of this development, so take my recap with several grains of salt. Basics:
1) Goal is to start construction spring of 2017, end fall of 2019
2) 179 total parking spots, 90 underground
3) Two means of ingress to parking--off of 38th and 29th avenue. One parking egress, onto 29th avenue
4) They are negotiating with metrotransit to lease the land metrotransit owns. I believe the 9,000 retail building and outdoor community space will be on metrotransit land.
5) Buses will egress onto 29th avenue, take a left, and proceed east or west on 38th at the 29th ave/38th street stoplight. So the southern half to 1/3 part of the 3700 block of 29th avenue will experience new bus traffic. Lander has a standing offer to purchase the affected homes (the ones on the west side of the southern portion of the 3700 block of 29th ave) from current owners at above market value. They are doing this as one way to mitigate the disruption of increased bus traffic, and because if they purchase enough of the houses on the southern portion of the westside of the 3700 block of 29th ave, they see a future infill development opportunity. They already own or have purchase agreements for all of the houses on the east side of the 3700 block of 29th ave.
6) There is no affordable housing funding or restrictions. However, the current pro-forma allows the development to successfully cash flow with 27 of the units renting at 60% ami (affordable to those making 60% or more of area median income), and 24 additional units renting at 80% ami.
7) Lander plans on relocating its offices to the top floor of the 9,000 square foot retail/commercial building.
8) Several people who are directly affected brought up concerns about the height of the back wall of the property on the south side of 38th street.
9) Some other people (or maybe the same people) were also concerned about the (perceived?--I don't say perceived to minimize crime concerns, I just don't know if crime has actually increased in that area) uptick in crime along 38th street between 28th ave. and the light rail. CM Johnson pointed out that this development includes streetscape (sidewalk, lighting) improvements that likely would not be done but for this development.
10) There was a lot of discussion focused on parking. There was concern that there was not enough parking and that it would overflow into the neighborhood. None of the parking is intended as park and ride or kiss and ride. I asked how that was going to be enforced and lander responded that they really could not enforce it. I thought that was a strange response, because there are tools to enforce parking restrictions. One person expressed concern that this area was not devoted to parking for park and ride as there would be more light rail riders if they could park at the light rail. There was not an opportunity to explain to him why filling urban light rail stops with park and rides is poor land use practice.
11) Lander has been working with the City of Mpls regarding road construction, and said that Mpls taxpayers are getting high-quality, thoughtful, professional service from the Mpls planning (not sure if that is the right dept) employees. Lander (Michael Pink was the representative) said the City has been good to work with and have a tremendous attention to detail.
12) The Cardinal Bar owner was there. He said they are staying put and have been working with lander to ensure a successful integration of the Cardinal into the development.
11) Overall the tone was amicable. The architect, lander, and the landscape designer responded to questions respectfully.
This site is incredibly complicated due to the close proximity to the lightrail and the various municipalities involved: Mpls. with creating new streets etc., and the met council re land lease and negotiating improved transit service. Not many developers would be willing to work within these constraints. I am impressed with Lander's vision and their willingness and patience to work within the confines of public process to get this thing shovel ready. Negotiating land leases and building new city streets are complex tasks that take years of planning/negotiations. Sharing site control (with met council) also makes it difficult (or more expensive) to get financing. I think the parking design needs to be tweaked. (I am not sure how--it just seems that one form of egress is going to create bottlenecks, and again the parking courtyard seems odd. If there were drawings that were more clear maybe that would help. I am not a particularly visual person and it was difficult for me to understand the plan without more specific drawings.) I give kudos to Lander for its steadfast commitment to this project. I really am hoping it gets built.
Part of my enthusiasm for this project is that I think it will contribute positively to the neighborhood in the long-term because it is well-positioned to maintain high residential occupancy because the residential portion is not flush with expensive (to the owner), amenities. Many new construction multifamily buildings include amenities that are expensive to build and maintain: pools, luxury party areas, fitness areas with classes, rooftop decks/party area, pet daycare/grooming, etc. These amenities add a lot of expenses, and the % of sq. feet devoted to revenue-generating uses is decreased. For these reasons, I think the high-amenity projects are at increased risk of cash-flowing during economic downturns or a decrease in market demand for high-amenity buildings. In contrast, this development does not include many of these amenities--that is why (I am guessing) the project cash-flows with some of the rents at 60% AMI. Because the common-space expenses are lower, rents remain lower. This decreases costs to the tenants, and being on the lightrail further decreases costs to tenants because it is more likely tenants can get by with one or zero cars. The lower expenses, and hence lower rents, will encourage higher-occupancy for the long term. The main caveat is the retail/commercial. If that is not able to successfully lease up, that could cause serious financial problems. It would be interesting to see how the retail will be priced, and at what vacancy it is being underwritten.