A small but vocal minority of homeowners is working to persuade Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon to delay the City Council approval of the Art & Architecture project being developed by Vermilion in Prospect Park. So far, the project has seen the support of: the Prospect Park Association, the City Planning Commission, and the City Zoning & Planning Committee.
Update 8/3: The project was voted on before the full city council. CM Gordon moved for a delay of two weeks, which passed unanimously. The intent is for mitigation and traffic management around Clarence residences, but these issues have already been addressed in the Prospect Park Association Memorandum of Understanding and neighborhood process, supporting the project.
Despite a months-long process of negotiations between the developer and neighborhood organization, this homeowners group continues to try to stop it on the grounds of historic preservation. They maintain that the changes they fought for to reduce the height would still detract from the Witch Hat Tower as a local icon. They are asking that the council stop or significantly change the project, which provides needed housing diversity and preserves small commercial space in a transit-rich neighborhood, connected to the biggest job centers in the state. We need to show that these are not the only voices on this issue.
If you have two minutes…
Write an email to your city council member (contact info below), and copy Ward 2 CM, Cam Gordon. If you have a little more time, scroll down for more info.
I support this project. I support more homes on transit, in walkable areas and near jobs. I support the zoning change. We are in a global climate crisis, and a regional housing shortage, and we need to approve projects like this to do our part to solve these problems.
- Kevin Reich (Ward 1): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cam Gordon (Ward 2): email@example.com
- Steve Fletcher (Ward 3): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phillipe Cunningham (Ward 4): email@example.com
- Jeremiah Ellison (Ward 5): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Abdi Warsame (Ward 6): email@example.com
- Lisa Goodman (Ward 7): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Andrea Jenkins (Council Vice-President, Ward 8): email@example.com
- Alondra Cano (Ward 9): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lisa Bender (Council President, Ward 10): email@example.com
- Jeremy Schroeder (Chair, Ward 11) : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Andrew Johnson (Ward 12): email@example.com
- Linea Palmisano (Ward 13): firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have way more time and want to write more, here are some things to consider:
- I support this project.
- I support the rezoning.
- I believe that representation matters, and it’s important to look at who isn’t in the room. The process has not included a variety of voices from the neighborhood, instead it has been dominated by housing secure single family homeowners, in a neighborhood that is 74% renters.
- Prospect Park is in need of commercial space, and has numerous underused parking lots located directly adjacent to the green line, two of which will be included in this project.
- The developer has gone above and beyond in listening to and working with people in the neighborhood to create an interesting project that represents community needs.
- The developer has lowered the height in response to community concerns about building height, and made narrower building masses to get some direct sunlight on the sidewalks. This is a reasonable compromise given that the properties are on a transit corridor, and it appears that many residents are asking for the unreasonable.
- The project is in between downtown Minneapolis, and St. Paul. It will put the largest job centers in the state, including the University of Minnesota, within easy access via public transit.
- The developer is providing more than enough parking, and conducted a detailed parking study to confirm this.
- Prospect Park is an area that is growing in demand, and we must build enough housing to match, or we will put pressure on people already feeling the pressure in the housing market.
- The project is near to a Green Line stop, adjacent to many bus routes, near to jobs, parks, a grocery store, and other amenities. It is on the fastest and most reliable transit line in the city, and connected to much of the area.
- A majority of the complaints about this project focus on blocked views of the Witch’s Hat tower. Views will be maintained for nearly everyone south of University — and a skinnier, taller building lets more sunlight through to the sidewalks than the alternative: a broader, squat building.
- This project is close to the U of M Transit Way, the 4th St bikeway, which are connected to the U of M and downtown Minneapolis.
- Traffic projections for the project were stated to be 1 car per hour, on average, at a recent neighborhood meeting.
- It is unfair to hold our cities hostage with the threat of added sprawl in the face of a climate crisis, all because someone at a public meeting once said they were concerned about not being able to see Witch’s Hat from their vehicle along 280 for a few seconds.
What is the Vermilion / Art & Architecture Project?
This is a mixed use project on the Green Line in Prospect Park. The project has so far seen support of the neighborhood organization a Memorandum of Understanding, passed at the neighborhood land use committee (of 102 participants) by a two-thirds margin. City Staff recommended that the Planning Commission approve this project, and though the project was appealed, the appeal was denied at the Zoning & Planning committee.
The project will include 208 homes, market rate, including condos and rental units. The project includes lots of commercial space, 34,000 feet, and takes the unusual step of preserving an existing historic building — the dearly beloved Art and Architecture building — as part of its design. It is on many transit routes, and directly connected with the two biggest job centers in our region.
Vermilion Development has gone well out of their way to involve people in the neighborhood. They have listened to height concerns and reduced the height (but not units). They’ve spent months in process working with the neighborhood task force to make sure everyone is as happy as can be with the design. The project has also inspired a compromise petition to build support for growth, contingent on height limits reflecting iconic views from the Witch’s Hat tower.