Arental house and duplex would be replaced by a five-story building with first-floor commercial space and up to 48 apartments if a zoning change is approved at the northwest corner of Marshall and Cleveland avenues. Developers Robert Page and David Kvasnik appeared before the Union Park District Council (UPDC) land use committee on December 21 to seek support for the zoning change. The committee laid the matter over until January 25 to give it more time to discuss the project with local residents and business people.

The parcel at 2063 Marshall Ave. is already zoned for Traditional Neighborhoods 3 (TN3), allowing a building up to 55 feet high. The developers’ request to rezone 2069 Marshall Ave. from TN2 to TN3 will be reviewed by the Saint Paul Planning Commission’s Zoning Committee at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, January 14. The zoning change needs the approval of the City Council. If the property at 2069 Marshall is not rezoned, the developers may opt for a three-story building with 32 apartments.

The developers hope to break ground in June and complete the project by July of 2022. One-bedroom apartments are being proposed, although the developers are considering including some studio apartments.

Kvasnik’s family owns the buildings at the southeast corner of Marshall and Cleveland and the southwest corner of Marshall and Cretin avenues. David Kvasnik was involved in the West Marshall Avenue study that in 2018 resulted in rezoning much of that thoroughfare between Hamline Avenue and the Mississippi River for higher-density housing.

   

Several UPDC committee members cited the months of work on the study as a reason to proceed slowly with any additional zoning changes. “We put in a lot of time on the West Marshall study,” said Mark Morrow. “This is a big ask with not much information.”

Local residents said they would like to see architectural drawings as well as shadow studies of the proposed building and more information on traffic. “We’re being rushed into this with very little information,” said Iglehart Avenue resident George Bounds. “I think this is a poorly thought-out project.”

Local residents said they would like to see architectural drawings as well as shadow studies of the proposed building and more information on traffic. “We’re being rushed into this with very little information,” said Iglehart Avenue resident George Bounds. “I think this is a poorly thought-out project.”

 

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The developers said that while the neighborhood has plenty of off-campus student housing with three- and four-bedroom apartments, their project would cater to working-class people who are interested in smaller apartments. The 48-unit building would have 35 off-street parking spaces, including 31
below-grade and four in a surface lot.

The December 21 meeting was the first time many neighbors had heard about the project, and they had many questions. Several who live across the alley on Iglehart were concerned about the loss of privacy for their yards and homes. They asked the UPDC committee to postpone its recommendation so they could continue discussions with the developers. Another issue is vehicular access to the parking. The developers want a curb cut on Cleveland, but several committee members pushed for alley access only.

The UPDC committee also heard from the students who live in the Marshall Avenue rental house and duplex. After signing leases through June 2022, they are now being asked to move. “We’re going to be thrown out onto the street,” said tenant Peyton Shuler.

Kvasnik said he and Page are willing to work with neighbors, but they are on a tight timeline. They would like to be able to rent the new apartments before December of 2022 because of the difficulty of renting housing during the winter.

Committee member Charlotte Berres, who lives on Iglehart, said the neighborhood’s concerns need to be addressed. “I’m just visualizing a whole street of apartments,” she said. Berres joined other neighbors in asking for a shadow study to determine to what degree the proposed five-story building would block sunlight for residents to the north.

— Jane McClure

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