Sholom Home Plans Come into Focus
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 8:15 AM

sholom-front_sketch.jpg
An architect’s rendering of the main entrance to the apartment complex off of Midway Parkway.

The former Sholom Home will be renovated into 150 rental apartments -- 80 percent of them studio or one-bedroom units of 600 square feet or less, according to updated plans shared with District 10’s Land Use Committee Oct. 2.

But the project will need the neighborhood to go along with a substantial parking variance, said Chuck Repke, a representative of Midway Community Group Redevelopment. The company, headed by Minneapolis developer Jeffrey Laux, is buying the former nursing home property at 1554 Midway Parkway through foreclosure.

The site currently has 65 surface parking spaces on its Canfield side; plans call for adding 10 more spaces on-site near Canfield and Arona, and 25 indoor spaces in the west building. But that could be more than 75 short of what city zoning code requires.

“It comes down to parking,” Repke told more than three dozen neighbors at the meeting. “You have to make a serious decision: Is the building worth saving? This can work, but it comes with a dilemma.” At another point, he said: “If we can’t get the parking variance, we can’t do the building.”

Targeted for renters without cars
Neighbors expressed concerns about adding more cars to streets such as Canfield, Arona, Midway Parkway, and Almond, especially during the State Fair. They suggested alternatives such as a ramp on the Canfield side, more surface parking on the Midway side, underground parking, and parking arrangements with the State Fairgrounds across Snelling. They also discussed potential issues such as noise, lighting, and landscaping.

Repke said the parking crunch may not be as severe as neighbors fear. He said the building will be one of the most transit-friendly options available. He said he believes it can be marketed successfully to renters who have chosen not to have a car, but instead rely on transportation such as the A Line bus that stops outside, ride-sharing, bicycles, and electric scooters. That target includes empty-nesters, young professionals, and graduate students at the nearby Hamline University and University of Minnesota campuses. He expects rents to start near $1,000 for the smallest units. The project will not seek any public subsidies, he said.

The latest plans call for 22 studio apartments of 400-500 square feet; 97 one-bedroom apartments of 550-600 square feet; 24 two-bedroom apartments of 800-900 square feet; and 7 three-bedroom apartments of 900-1,050 square feet. The project expects a number of communal amenities, such as a barbecue patio near Snelling and Midway; bike parking; indoor activity and media rooms; and a rooftop garden.

Repke told neighbors that the site is too narrow to make a parking ramp viable. In a follow-up email to District 10, he said adding a surface lot on the Midway side could, at most, add 9 spaces – and also would create aesthetic, engineering and other obstacles that are unlikely to pass muster with the city.

Renovation means trade-offs
Owners want to keep the buildings intact, Repke stressed, in part to make the project distinctive from newer developments such as those on south Snelling. But “creative re-use” comes with trade-offs, he said, including the parking challenge. If this proposal doesn’t fly, he said, the city’s zoning code would allow developers to demolish the existing buildings and build a contemporary, five-story structure that could hold 400 units but meet all the parking requirements.

“After 10 years as a vacant, ugly building, I would think that having life in that building will improve things in the neighborhood,” he said. “We want to make this the best development that works for you.”

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District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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