A Chicago-based real estate developer has plans to redesign Prospect Park’s Art and Architecture building while preserving most of its structure.
Vermilion Development is considering a purchase and redesign of the Art and Architecture building to add a mix of apartments and condominiums, as well as room for commercial space on the ground floor. Residents are optimistic about the potential project, and hope an architectural redesign will add to the neighborhood’s character.
"We're planning to file for a zoning change for the site in order to develop new residential and retail on the existing footprint," said Ari Parritz, one of the lead developers on the project.
The redevelopment would affect the tenants of the existing commercial spaces. Some have expressed they would stay following construction, while others have not, Parritz said.
Vermilion Development has yet to purchase the building, but has received feedback from Prospect Park Association task force members to meet the needs and expectations of neighborhood residents. Architects and developers met with PPA task members last week to discuss the potential redesign.
"The biggest thing of the task force is we want it to be the gateway into the neighborhood. We want it to be the signature building at the gateway to Minneapolis and the neighborhood because it's right on the boundary," said Vince Netz, a PPA board member.
The task force focused on the aesthetics of the building to ensure its appearance fits the neighborhood and determine the impact of a redesign on nearby single-family homes.
"Our biggest concern is how the back of it will interact with single-family homes and the [Witch’s Hat] Tower," Netz said. "If it's in your backyard, are you going to see a big brick wall in your yard or not?"
Netz said the neighborhood task force gave recommendations to the developer on how to avoid making the structure a 'giant wall' of apartments.
The addition of condominiums is another aspect of the development that isn’t common in the neighborhood.
"In the past, the developments along 4th Street have all been rentals. This is the first one that has come in and said, ‘we're going to do condos,’ and we're quite excited about that," said John Kari, chair of PPA’s task force.
Task force members have high hopes for the marquee building and what it will bring to the neighborhood. One of the goals of the development is to foster more economic growth in the area.
"One of the things we asked them to look at is ... how can they retain tenants or the type of tenants that are already there … and also begin the process of recreating all [of] University Avenue as a more pedestrian, eclectic mix of activities that people would want to go to," Kari said.
The expectations for the marquee building may make design quality a standard for future developments.
"What we were thinking of is that the architecture of the building could also be seen as good art … it would be a building that you recognize would set a standard for a higher quality of design for other buildings that would follow along the avenue," Kari said.
Vermilion Development expects to close on the sale by the end of the year.