The project site for the Mill City Quarter development is bounded by 2nd Street to the south, 3rd Avenue to the west, 5th Avenue to the east and the River West high-rise complex and Mill Place building to the north. The site is currently occupied by a large surface parking lot. The proposed project is an infill, dense urban development that will include mostly residential units, plus a modest amount of commercial/retail space. It will be a transit-oriented mixed-use development that will occur in two phases and will greatly enhance the connectivity from the Mill District neighborhood to the Mississippi River.
The neighboring office building called Mill Place owns the rail spur “swoop” which divides the two city parcels along a SE to NW axis, leading from Second Street to the riverfront. Mill Place ownership has been actively engaged in the four year discussion, and both ownership groups recognize the importance of making a pedestrian/bike/river connection through collaboration and easements. Option ‘A’ shows possibilities on the City owned land, while Option ‘B’ offers further possibilities with cross easements on Mill Place’s land. Regardless of the option chosen, the final riverfront connection depends upon the willingness and cooperation of the City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Park Board, which own the property from Mill Place boundary north to the river.
The development team and Mill Place desire a collaborative space in the “swoop” that functions like a Dutch ‘woonerf’ where bikes/cars pedestrians and public spaces all co-exist, and speeds are reduced for cars. Shared parking at off-peak times is a consideration for Mill Place.
Phase 1 of the development will consist of a six-story building that will include up to 150 rental housing units (100%affordable at 50% and 60% MMI) and up to 15,000 sq. ft. of destination retail space. This will add a desirable mixture of housing choices that are currently needed and underrepresented in this neighborhood. Approximately 160 parking stalls will be provided at grade and below ground for the development of Phase 1. Access to the parking facility will be from 2nd Street (Option A) with an option to utilize a shared access with the Mill Place property owner, (Option B). Bicycle parking will be provided to meet a ratio of 1 bike space per dwelling unit.
The design will include landscaped open spaces to facilitate pedestrian traffic and gathering of people and also to enhance the pedestrian experience around the building and therefore the connectivity of the West River Parkway with the neighborhood and other means of mass transit. This development will create a pedestrian-friendly, green streetscape connecting the West River Parkway with the bus transit network, the bikeway system and the cultural and recreational opportunities abundant in the Mill District area along Second Street.
A large landscaped plaza adjacent to the “swoop” could provide safe and inviting outdoor spaces for relaxing and socializing. Trees and native perennials and grasses could line the shared streets. This project team is committed to demonstrating a number of best management practices (BMP) for storm water management and Low-Impact Development (LID). Some of the concepts and techniques being proposed include rainwater harvesting, vegetated walls, pervious paving, pixilated parking, green roofs and underground detention.
Site connections for the Phase 2 project units will focus on protected and flexible outdoor space. We envision exploring a three-season space that connects directly to the woonerf/river connection path. This space will be paired with an atrium space and/or light wells within the building to bring natural light into the space and allow indoor plants to flourish. Both indoor and outdoor plants will be chosen to enhance the care of those residents in assisted living and memory care, as there are particular plants that can trigger memory and bring pleasure.
The building exterior of Phase I will include metal panels, creatively detailed cement board panels, decorative metal grills, glass and some masonry. The design of the exterior takes its cues from the surrounding historic architecture. Strong influence was drawn upon from the adjacent metal clad and steel Milwaukee Road train shed with its rhythmic and repetitive structure and including the perforated, curved bracket details which are reflected in the curved forms of the “round” scheme. The massing of the building is broken into two pieces. Along 3rd Avenue the massing and repetition of the adjacent historic warehouses, Dunn Brothers building, and the Milwaukee Road is continued in the proposed building whose face continues the rhythm and scale of these historic buildings. Along 2nd Street the building’s long, linear mass reflects that of the adjacent train shed. Both of the schemes presented include windows consistent in proportion to adjacent buildings. Their consistent repetition and order is given a contemporary stroke with multiple stories of fenestration being combined in larger openings in a rhythmic pattern. In this way the building reflects the time in which it is being built while relating to its historic context.
Estimated Lot size Phase 1: 49,782 sq ft or 1.143 acres
Estimated Lot size Phase 2: 57,100 sq ft or 1.311 acres
(The final lot divisions will depend upon additional partner considerations above and beyond the average split of 53,441 square feet and allocation of existing parking burdens and accommodations to neighboring properties.)
Building Footprint: 24,430 sq ft (49% lot coverage)
Total Building Area: 204,250 sq ft
Building Area (excluding parking): 156,830 sq ft
Building setbacks: 3rd Avenue and 2nd Street – 0 feet; east – 0 to 20 feet; north – 20 feet
Floor Area Ratio (FAR): 3.15
Dwelling Units: 140 units
Minimum Lot Area (MLA): 356 sq ft
Off-Street parking: 160 stalls
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