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Yellow Tree plans Whittier rentals near Eat Street'.

Byline: William Morris

Minneapolis-based Yellow Tree Development Corp. can't get enough of the city's Whittier neighborhood.

The company recently completed The Whit, a 74-unit apartment building at 2201 Blaisdell Ave., and in March it presented plans to the city for a 63-unit building at the southwest corner of 28th Street West and Garfield Avenue.

Now it's going even bigger with an as-yet-unnamed 147-unit market-rate project on the northwest corner of 26th Street West and Blaisdell Avenue. The project will get its first hearing before the city Planning Commission Committee of the Whole on Thursday.

Currently on the corner, one block east of the popular "Eat Street" corridor on Nicollet Avenue, are several small commercial buildings and a house owned by Gold Realty Group and occupied by Goldstein Law PLLC. Yellow Tree has been discussing redevelopment opportunities with Gold for several years and is partnering with them on the new project, Yellow Tree co-founder Robb Lubenow said in an interview. The project plays well into Yellow Tree's strengths, he said.

"We're really focused on small infill development sites, but also trying to provide units at entry-point market-rate housing," Lubenow said. "There's a segment of the market that isn't being built to, so we're looking at doing that."

A majority of units in the new building will be in a micro format, Lubenow said. Although the project is not receiving any subsidies, he estimated most of the units will be affordable to renters making 80 percent or less of the area median income.

Affordable housing is a major need in Whittier, says Kaley Brown, executive director of the Whittier Alliance. Brown declined to comment on the new project, which Yellow Tree will present to the neighborhood council on Tuesday. In general, though, she said the neighborhood is working to more proactively engage with developers and planners as development continues up and down the Eat Street corridor.

"I definitely think we need more housing. It's just a question of what we need the most," she said, noting the median household income in Wittier is about $36,000 per year. "So we're trying to work within our community and with developers and our partners at the city to make sure new developments do have housing for people that live in Whittier right now, including families as well."

If granted the needed approvals, including rezoning and variances for height, setbacks, impervious surface and more, Yellow Tree hopes to break ground on the project in early fall, Lubenow said. He declined to share a budget estimate for the project.

Yellow Tree also submitted revised plans this week for its 26th and Garfield project based on feedback from the city and neighborhood council. The original five-story, C-shaped building is now six stories and L-shaped, Lubenow said.

"The planning commission was looking for increased setbacks and were open to more height," Lubenow said, noting the site will be reguided for up to six-story development under the recently approved Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan.

That project, which he expects to appear at the May 2 Committee of the Whole meeting, would replace two older, smaller multifamily buildings if approved.

Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture is designing both projects. Yellow Tree will handle building through its in-house construction arm.


26th and Blaisdell city staff report

New apartments cut square footage, rent

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Publication:Finance and Commerce
Geographic Code:1U4MN
Date:Apr 12, 2019
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