A six-story, 115-unit apartment building is being proposed for the southwest corner of Snelling and Randolph avenues. Developer Oppidan hopes to start construction next fall after obtaining a conditional use permit and other city approvals.

The Community Development Committee of the Highland District Council (HDC) reviewed the project on November 17. The HDC expects to set up a future meeting for neighbors on the development plans. The Macalester-Groveland Community Council will also be invited to weigh in on the project, since the site borders the two neighborhoods.

The property at 485 S. Snelling Ave. is currently home to Highland Service/Minnoco, a gas station, convenience store and car wash. Paul Tucci, executive vice president for development at Oppidan, said the property is currently under contract with Oppidan.

The 24,395-square-foot property was rezoned from commercial to Traditional Neighborhoods 3 (TN3) in 2017 as part of a South Snelling Avenue zoning study. The proposed building would be 66.5 feet tall. TN3 zoning allows heights of up to 55 feet, so a conditional use permit would be required from the city’s Planning Commission.

It is unknown yet if the project would require variances, which would be determined after a review by city staff.

development
Oppidan's proposed location for a six-story, 115-unit apartment building on the southwest corner of Snelling and Randolph avenues.

Plans call for two levels of underground parking, each with almost 50 spaces, and about two dozen first-floor parking spots. The rest of the first floor would include a leasing office and tenant amenities, including a club room and fitness room.

HDC committee member Marge Isom asked if the building could be reduced to five stories, but Tucci said the design was chosen to make the project viable financially.

The building would be C-shaped around a courtyard. Plans call for two levels of underground parking, each with almost 50 spaces, and about two dozen first-floor parking spots. The rest of the first floor would include a leasing office and tenant amenities, including a club room and fitness room.

The market-rate apartments would be a mix of studio, alcove, and one- and two-bedroom units. Some committee members asked if a few affordable units would be included. Tucci said, if they were, they would have to be at 60-80 percent of the Twin Cities area’s median income (AMI). This year’s AMI in the Twin Cities ranges from $72,350 for one person to $103,400 for a family of four.

Parking would equate to about one space per apartment, which prompted some committee members to ask if that was enough. Tucci said with smaller units and the building located on three bus routes, not every resident would need a vehicle.

Committee members also raised the issue of potential soil contamination from years of gas station use. Tucci said a full environmental investigation and cleanup would be undertaken. One advantage he cited with two levels of underground parking is that any contaminated soil would be excavated.

Tucci suggested committee members look at a recent Oppidan project in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood for an idea of building scale for the proposed Randolph-Snelling project. Oppidan recently redeveloped a five-story mixed-use building in the 46th Street-Hiawatha Avenue area. That building, has a Cub Foods and other retail space on its first floor, and 148 apartments on the upper floors.

— Jane McClure

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