So here are my thoughts:
- Circulation: We talk a big game about limiting curb cuts, particularly on major commercial arterials, but now that we have a design that does just that we're concerned (perhaps rightfully so). If this is something that limits this or future designs of a 6-story mixed-use building fronting a transit corridor, which seems to be because the building itself 1) doesn't straddle the alley on a block end (like Lime, Murals, Bad Waitress building, CVS building at Franklin/Nic, etc) and/or 2) includes a grocery, which is a larger trip generator than a restaurant (like the WSK building), I dunno. We want mid-sized groceries serving primarily people within walking distance in mixed-use buildings without awful, blighting surface parking lots (ex. Wedge Co-op, Lunds, Cub) but apparently none of the potential tradeoffs? In any case, this seems more like a problem with Lyndale's design and 26th/28th one-way pairs, not the building itself. We should be having a serious discussion about 4-3'ing Lyndale to allow us the ability to stop left turns in the corridor via a center median. While I personally the calmed one-way + protected bike lane solution for 26th/28th, this is a great reason for why reverting to two-way would be helpful. 27th, like 25th, SHOULD get a light considering the pedestrian activity, vehicle speeds, and resulting crashes in the area. Traffic counts between 27th and 28th in 2015 were just over 17k AADT, so this isn't an insane suggestion. Maybe, MAYBE, if we built some protected bike lanes on Lyndale as a result people like my wife and I would feel much more comfortable biking up to Aldi to grab food.
- Semi access: how often do semis bring food to a grocery store? Once a week? Twice? I sympathize with the concern about conflicts with a one-vehicle-at-a-time alley, but how is that any different than *any* other alley in our city (that see garbage trucks alongside resident cars conflicting with each other)? Also, the design seems to keep the semi inside the building footprint until delivery is complete, so the conflict would only be as they negotiate exiting the alley. Would we prefer semi delivery on-street? Set delivery times to low-conflict times as a condition of approval? Especially considering the design forces all resident and guest parking to not even use the alley to exit, this has a fairly low impact on alley traffic.
- Massing against the alley: we should probably have a real discussion about how important the aesthetics facing our alleys are. We have blocks on blocks of single family neighborhoods where 10-15' high blank detached garage walls or doors form a pretty bleak wall, people seem to not mind. Thinking a little bigger, awful alley-fronting buildings could also be described as building natural affordability into neighborhoods. I can get behind shifting the building's massing closer to the street, but that won't come tradeoff-free; people complain about giant walls fronting commercial corridors. This seems to balance those concerns. But I mean, yeah, a development of this size with parking isn't gonna have a pretty facade against the alley, and it's actually not unheard of to have 4+ stories of residences right up to the alley lot line in places of our city.