Alatus and partners renew interest in former Grandma’s Saloon site

Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal –

Minneapolis developer Alatus and two development partners have floated plans for a six-story apartment complex near the University of Minnesota, on the former site of Grandma’s Saloon & Grill.

The project, at 1810 Washington Ave. S., is on the West Bank near the University of Minnesota’s law and business schools.

Carl Runck, a project developer for Alatus, presented a series of conceptual renderings for the project at a March 28 meeting of the West Side Community Coalition.

Tentative plans include about 260 apartment units, mostly single bedrooms and studios with a handful of two- and three-bedroom units, according to Michael Schmitz, director of the West Bank Community Coalition. There would be about 300 total beds.

Some of the amenities depicted on the site plan include an exercise room, a garden, a community room, a study room and a living room. There would also be space at the corner of 19th Avenue S. and Washington for a coffee shop. Richfield-based Tushie Montgomery Architects drew the plans.

The developers plan 80 surface level parking stalls and the rest would be in the adjacent parking ramp. The plans call for demolishing part of that ramp, Schmitz said.

Alatus bought the 796-stall parking structure, called the Seven Corners Ramp, from the city of Minneapolis in 2007 as part of a package of six municipal ramps. At the time, Alatus committed to developing a housing complex on the Grandma’s site that would have a minimum development cost of $9.8 million but not exceed 35 stories and 300 housing units.

Grandma’s Saloon closed in 2008, and the building was demolished in March 2011.

Alatus had initially proposed a much taller 25-story, 369-unit apartment project on a portion of the site. Making a shorter, broader building is much less expensive to develop, and the present design gives the developers two-thirds of the original unit counts at only one-quarter of the height.

The lead developers are Robb Miller, vice president of TE Miller Development and Curt Gunsbury, owner of Solhem Cos., according to an Alatus spokeswoman.

“We’re in due diligence at this point; listening to the community and exploring ideas. As this moves along, we’ll make an announcement at the appropriate time,” Miller said in an email message.

The new development partners told the West Bank neighborhood group they plan to submit their development plans to the city to begin the formal approval process in the next month, Schmitz said.

By: Sam Black, Senior reporter
Date: April 6, 2012 – 1:12pm CDT
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