A 62-unit apartment building may rise next year at 1509 Marshall Ave., replacing a longtime commercial structure. Matt J. Borowy of Bright Pixel Design presented his plans for the 41/2-story building on October 19 to the Land Use Committee of the Union Park District Council (UPDC).
Borowy is working with property owner Jim Tindall, who recently purchased the Snelling-Hamline site. If all goes as planned, construction would start in the spring of 2021 and be complete in 2022.
Plans call for four floors of housing above what Borowy described as a level of “tuck-under” parking, bike storage and a lounge. The L-shaped building would be sided with a mix of masonry and metal panels. Its six studio apartments, 44 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom units would be smaller than usual, and their rents would be lower than usual. Monthly rents would be $1,200 for a 488-square-foot one-bedroom unit, $800 for a smaller efficiency apartment and $1,500 for a two-bedroom unit.
The building site is just a short walk from the A Line rapid-transit buses on Snelling Avenue and the planned B Line rapid-transit buses that will run between Minneapolis’ Uptown and Saint Paul’s downtown. That should make it attractive to people who do not own a car, Borowy said.
The property was zoned industrial for many years, but was rezoned in 2018 to traditional neighborhoods 3. A request for a zoning change is not anticipated, but the project will likely need variances for setback and to allow parking along the alley between Marshall and Iglehart avenues.
UPDC committee members had mixed reactions to the building’s design. Some said it is appropriate and others said it needs more of a neighborhood feel. Committee member Paul Bakke described the structure as “fortress-like.” According to him, the front is “rather brutal, in terms of engaging with pedestrians and the street.” While there is an entrance in front, the main entrance appears to be in back.
Another committee concern was traffic. Member Scott Berger said the location near two busy cross streets needs to be considered. The site’s slope was raised as a possible problem during construction. The effect the structure would have on a homeowner’s solar array just to the north was also questioned.
Committee member Paul Bakke described the structure as “fortress-like.” According to him, the front is “rather brutal, in terms of engaging with pedestrians and the street.”
The fate of 1509 Marshall Ave. has been discussed for several years. The current building, which is clad in blue stucco, is actually three commercial buildings with a total of about 9,500 square feet. The oldest part of the structure dates from 1936, according to city records. One of the buildings once housed a roller-skating rink. In recent years, the building has housed a church, offices and a paint store, but it fell into disrepair and was condemned more than six years ago.
In the spring of 2016, RS Eden unveiled a plan to tear down 1509 Marshall Ave. and replace it with a four-story apartment building. The St. Paul-based nonprofit provides supportive housing, mainly for residents who are striving to maintain their sobriety. RS Eden’s plans were shelved after Saint Paul developer Ed Conley bought the property. Conley’s company pulled building permits in the fall of 2016, but its plan to renovate the building for a mix of office and retail uses never came to fruition.
By Jane McClure
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