The Saint Paul Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approved a setback variance on April 5 that will allow developer Joe Schneider to demolish a duplex at 749 Mount Curve Blvd. and build a three-story, 10-unit apartment building in its place.

A minimum setback of 26.6 feet is required and 22.5 feet was approved to allow for balconies facing the front yard. The project came in under recently changed regulations for sites zoned for residential multifamily (RM) use, which were meant to encourage infill
development.

The one-bedroom apartments will be 550-650 square feet each with monthly rents estimated at $1,300-$1,500. Schneider said the rents can be held down because the building will not have shared amenities, such as an exercise room.

The Highland District Council (HDC) Community Development Committee recommended approval of the variance in March. Two neighbors sent letters to the BZA in opposition. No one other than the developer attended the virtual BZA hearing.

Debate at both meetings centered on the project’s six off-street parking spaces. Typically, more parking would be required, but the lowered number is possible because the site is just a block from the A Line bus rapid transit route on Ford Parkway.

Neighbors and committee members expressed mixed reactions at the HDC meeting, with some voicing support and others asking if a precedent was being set for other RM-zoned properties in the area. Concerns were raised about spillover parking, the potential affect on nearby property values and the placement of new fences.

Schneider said the new building will be comparable in height to other apartment buildings in the area. He plans to start construction in June and finish by next spring. A tree in front of the property will stay, but trees in the backyard will come down.

 

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—Jane McClure

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