Merriam Park neighbors appear to have fallen short in their effort to influence a proposed five-story apartment building at 1708-16 Selby Ave. With a split vote on February 28, the Union Park District Council (UPDC) land use committee rejected the neighbors’ request to push for further revisions to developer Jon Schwartzman’s plan for Selby Flats. Most committee members said they believe the project should move forward.

1708 Selby
The site of the proposed Selby Flats apartment project at 1708-16 Selby Ave.

The Saint Paul City Council in December approved Schwartzman’s request to rezone 1708 Selby from commercial use to multifamily housing. The two parcels immediately to the west are currently occupied by single-family rental homes, but they were already zoned for multifamily housing.

Schwartzman has not submitted a formal site plan to city staff; however, the UPDC and the neighbors have seen a general plan. Schwartzman’s intent is to build 38-40 studio and one-bedroom apartments on the second through fifth floors and 17-19 parking spaces on the first floor. The apartments would have “Juliet-style” balconies that do not extend out from the building. 

“When I look out of my front door, this building will block my view of the sky,” said Hague resident Steve Le­Beau. While the two rental homes that will be replaced by the apartment building may be eyesores, he said, the new building will surely be one.

Schwartzman’s project has sparked a debate throughout the neighborhood over the future of Selby between Fairview and Snelling avenues. Schwartzman acknowledged the concerns of neighbors, but said he is not willing to lower the height of the building or otherwise modify his plans.

Most of the units will be market-rate, he said, although at least four will offer some level of affordability, something on which the UPDC insisted before supporting Schwartzman’s rezoning request.

Schwartzman has said he will make about 10 percent of the apartments affordable to households making 60 percent of the Twin Cities area median income, or about $62,940 per year for a family of four and $44,100 for a single person. Committee members asked him for deeper affordability.

 

house ad

 

Neighbors said they should have been able to see Schwartzman’s plans before the Selby Avenue lot was rezoned and that their concerns did not receive a fair hearing. However, Schwartzman said his plans depended on the rezoning. If he had not been able to rezone 1708 Selby, he said he would have constructed an apartment building at 1712 and 1716 Selby and reserved 1708 Selby for parking.

The proposed five-story building will be set back 10 feet from the rear property line. That block between Selby and Hague Avenue has no alley. Several neighbors hosted an open house this winter to show how the building will tower over their homes.

“When I look out of my front door, this building will block my view of the sky,” said Hague resident Steve Le­Beau. While the two rental homes that will be replaced by the apartment building may be eyesores, he said, the new building will surely be one.

— Jane McClure

COMMENTS TERMS OF SERVICE

The Villager welcomes comments from readers. Please include your full name and the neighborhood in which you live. Be respectful of others and stay on topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment we deem to be profane, rude, insulting or hateful. Comments will be reviewed before being published.