Education Restoration Preservation

Welcome to the
Healy Project

Join us on Facebook

Send us an Email

Recent posts

Recent posts:

Anders Christensen Receives Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Executive Director’s Award Anders Christensen’s Remarks on Receiving Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Award Healy Project Fundraiser at the Lowbrow, May 7th Winter Party Fundraiser December 2017 Talk: Preservation Advocacy, August 17th Open House at 1300 Mount Curve Avenue East Lake of the Isles Walking Tour May 21st New Research on the “Lost” Healy Block: Tour May 7th A Presentation on Master Builders Ingham and Parsons, Saturday, March 18th. Healy Project Winter Party Henry Ingham’s Yorkshire Healy Project Fundraiser at the Lowbrow, May 9th Healy Block Historic District Tour: April 17th Healy Project Holiday Old House Reception CANCELED–Healy Block Historic District Walking Tour–November 8 More Hauntings: Houses Built by Henry Ingham Healy House Hauntings Tour Intro to the History of the North Wedge North Wedge Architectural Walking Tour, October 3rd Healy Phoenix #2 Healy Phoenix #1 Report on the Event: A Great Dinner for a Good Cause A Child’s View of T.P. Healy’s Family Big Win for Healy Block Residents: Revised I-35W Expansion Plan T.P. Healy: Farmer, Commission Merchant & Wholesale Grocer in Nova Scotia Open April 25th: Restored 1885 House in Wedge Learn from the Past, Learn from the Present Grandstanding and Stonewalling at City Hall: Trashing the Public Trust Orth House Demolition An Open Letter to Minneapolis City Council Regarding the Orth House Demolition The Truth Will Out II: More Lies That Brought Down 2320 Colfax Avenue South The Truth Will Out: Lies that Brought Down 2320 Colfax Avenue South Judge Denies Injunction against Wrecking 2320 Colfax Avenue South Poisoning the Well: Testimony about 2320 Colfax Avenue South “City Ghosts” Visit Victorian House Historic North Wedge Walking Tour: Sunday, September 7th Combining New and Old: A New Vision for the Orth House A Place That Matters Healy Project Files Suit to Stop Demolition of the Orth House Happy Earth Day, Zero-Credibility City of Minneapolis Stop Demolition: Allow a designation study for the Orth House Perverting New Urbanism II: Greenwashing Demolition Perverting New Urbanism for Fun and Profit Size Matters: Development at Franklin-Lyndale DEN$ITY: Building Utopia in Gopher City Hypocrisy at City Hall: Planning Department Scorns Sustainable Development Déjà Vu All Over Again: Threats to Healy Houses Renewed Healy Project Special Kickoff Tour Saving Private Houses In Landmark Decision, City Council Stops Demolition of 2320 Colfax Avenue South What’s the Greenest Building? Who Lives in Lowry Hill East? Revoltin’ Developments VI: What You Can Do Revoltin’ Developments V: Sappy Citizens and Maudlin Attachments Revoltin’ Developments IV: Density and City Planning Revoltin’ Developments III: Density and Livability Revoltin’ Developments II: Healy Houses in the Wedge Revoltin’ Developments, Part I Healy Descendant Acquires the Bennett-McBride House On Memorial Day Lost Healys on the Healy Block More Lost Healys The Broom House: 3111 Second Avenue South More on Round Hill Happy Birthday, T.P. The Edmund G. Babbidge House: 3120 Third Avenue South Brightening the Corner: 3101 Second Avenue South 2936 Portland Avenue The Andrew H. Adams House: 3107 Second Avenue South Clones: 2932 Park and 1425 Dupont North The J.B. Hudson House: 3127 Second Avenue South Second Healy Family Home: 3131 Second Avenue South Schlocked: ‎2639-41 Bryant Avenue South 1976 Sheridan Avenue South: Preserved Exterior The William L. Summer House, 3145 Second Avenue South Two More in the Wedge Weapon of Mass Healy Destruction: I-35W Construction The Third: Healy Builds in the Wedge The Second: 3139 Second Avenue South Healy’s First House: 3137 Second Avenue South Anders Christensen, T.P.Healy, and the Healy Project

Size Matters: Development at Franklin-Lyndale

 NOTE: This is an expanded version of an op/ed piece appearing in the March 2014 issue of Uptown Neighborhood News. This proposal has been withdrawn by the developer, who took down the images of the project.
“Spot zoning is a provision in a general zoning plan which benefits a single parcel of land by creating an allowed use for that parcel that is not allowed for the surrounding properties in the area. Because of implications of favoritism, spot zoning is not favored practice.”–USLegal.comAt the February 13th meeting of the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association Zoning and Planning Committee, developer Don Gerberding presented plans for a proposed mixed-use building at the Franklin-Lyndale intersection. Gerberding contended that the development, which would require five zoning variances, needs to be this big to be “economically feasible.” Many in the standing-room-only crowd found fault with various aspects of the development, such as height, mass, noise, ugly appearance, and parking. In response to the concerns voiced, Gerberding said he would “tweak” the design. (See Report on meeting in Southwest Journal.)

“Tweaking”, however, will not fix the basic problem, namely, that Gerberding’s proposal requires spot zoning. Gerberding is asking for a building two stories higher than current zoning permits. In addition, he wants a variance that allows his complex to be erected within 3 feet of the property line of the Aldrich Avenue buildings. Gerberding is asking that the City give his project special treatment, allowing him to build a much larger building than zoning allows.
In this architectural rendering, the intersection appears flat, although there actually is a slope upwards on the right hand (Franklin Avenue) side. The traffic volume looks more like 1914 than 2014. In the 1870s this was the northern boundary of Lake Blaisdell, 20 acres in size, 40′ deep in places. (What are those birds preparing to do, I wonder.)

Most of the objections to this proposal would be addressed if the project were redesigned to conform to the parcel’s current C1-C2 zoning. My friend Mike, whose father represented Minneapolis’s Third Ward in the 1950s, told me that when he read through his dad’s papers, he was struck by how many of the correspondences concerned zoning–scores of applicants thinking that their businesses should be made exceptions to the law. If the City is going to give special dispensation to Gerberding’s proposal, it had better lay out documented proof that the spot zoning will not have negative consequences for residents and City taxpayers. If the City decides to gloss over problems and approve the variances, it should provide just compensation for property owners on Aldrich and Franklin Avenues, who will be very negatively impacted by the development.

Vague assurances that the proposal fits the City’s plan for increased density at transit hubs are not good enough. The claim that the size/height of the building (75′ high) and number of rental units (85) can be justified because the City endorses public transportation is disingenuous. Traffic snarls and severely limited parking are already acute problems at this intersection and in the surrounding neighborhoods.  This intersection used to be the northern end of Lake Blaisdell– which is why it floods every time it rains hard, and why they can’t put in underground parking on the site.

Lyndale Avenue side, showing the parking entrance which would sit exactly opposite the Wedge Co-op’s parking lot.  The Co-op has to hire cops to manage the traffic melee that ensues at peak shopping times.  In this view, there’s one small bus, some cars, and, amazingly, no bicyclists or traffic cops. But the mysterious flock of birds is hovering over Franklin.

Minneapolis currently is the nation’s most bike-friendly city, but this has had no discernible impact in relieving congestion at this crossroads of two major traffic arteries at an Interstate on/off-ramp. The complex with its 212 for-pay “district parking” spaces would make the intersection a bigger bottleneck for years to come. It astounds me how city officials and supporters of this proposal so easily dismiss the traffic congestion in the area: In the near future, everyone will be riding bicycles and buses. Just put some bike lockers for tenants in the apartment complex and voila! problem solved. Yeah, right.

Why does the City have a zoning code, if it is to be selectively applied according to developers’ “needs”? Approving spot zoning opens up the City to demands from other property owners for equal treatment.  Cynics wonder if allowing selective zoning for this project might be a sneaky way for the City to open up other “transit hubs” in the area to higher density redevelopment. If that’s so, it’s a dangerous game they’re playing.  Developers aren’t the only ones who can sue the City.

Rooftop restaurant on the proposed project.  Does the City so easily forget the recent war between local residents and owners of rooftop bar-restaurants in Uptown?  Do they expect bar patrons here to be less rowdy, quietly whiling away the evening eating and drinking until closing time?

To avoid community rancor and potential lawsuits, the City must do an objective harm/benefit analysis of the impact of the zoning variances on surrounding properties. This process must be transparent, with claims by City officials of neighborhood support backed up with specifics.  The developer and his backers keep claiming that the project has significant community support. Council Member Lisa Bender said that some want the proposed building to be taller. (Quoted in CityPages blog ) Someone thinks this building should be seven or more stories high? Really? Who–and why? Let’s see the proof: an accounting of communications pro and con to the mayor and council members about this proposal. So far, local residents have gotten mostly opaqueness, not transparency, from City Hall. City officials, put your cards on the table, and let’s see what hand we’re being dealt.

The northwest corner of Lyndale-Franklin, c. 1920. Streetcar tracks run on Lyndale, sidewalks have grassy boulevards with trees, and a gas pump sits on the Lyndale side of the building. No birds. Today, trees and grass are gone, vehicles fill the streets, and the building’s facade has been bricked up. It’s one of the city’s busiest crossroads. If you want gas, you can go to the cramped SA station at 2200 Lyndale.

Gerberding began his Wedge presentation by telling us that he designed this project for the benefit of the neighborhood. Don’t do us any favors. If he finds it impossible to come up with an “economically feasible” development that conforms to the property’s zoning, let another more imaginative and resourceful developer take a crack at it.

–T.B.