Support Rex 26’s appeal for more homes

The slight difference in the proposal that is being appealed, July 2017 (above) and January 2018 (below)

Feb. 15: Appeal denied! The developer announced that their economic metrics worked out so that they would be able to make 3 of the new units affordable housing for people at 80% area median income (AMI), but they will be able to squeeze it down to 60% AMI. Alas, Z&P committee was not in support of any of this, but the project is still moving forward in its previous form. Denial, while sad, fits the findings which specifically called out that economic reasons are not a justification, and the developer (regardless of N4MN views) was pretty explicit in talking about this from their economic perspective.

Rex 26 is a mixed-use project at Lyndale Ave South and 26th Street, which will include an Aldi grocery store as well as apartments. The project has already been approved, and is now under construction, however, it came back to the Planning Commission with revisions for additional housing units. On January 22nd, the Minneapolis Planning Commission rejected the request for a variance (which staff had recommended for approval), and the developer is appealing this decision at the Zoning & Planning Committee on February 15th. If you’re looking for a detailed history of the project, read this Minnpost article, which explains how the concept of Floor Area Ratio works and relates to this project.

The revision of the project going for appeal includes 97 market-rate apartments (adding 11 units from the previous proposal), no change to height (the new units would all be on the 5th floor). The project includes 135 bike racks, 187 parking stalls, and 21,851 square feet of retail space for an Aldi grocery store.

During the previous planning commission meeting, some commissioners opposed the increase stating either that they did not support the original scale of the project (since decreased), or saying that the proposed density increase was simply for the developer’s own economic benefit. If the latter is a problem, why approve any project at all?

Neighbors for More Neighbors supports the appeal, help us out! If you’d like to receive alerts about things like this, join the mailing list. Support our work through Patreon, or by buying swag editions of our art.

How to help

Send a short email in support of this project (even two or three sentences will do) to the Zoning & Planning Committee members. This project’s appeal hearing will be at the Z&P Committee on February 15th at 10 AM, so make sure to get your email in reasonably in advance. If you wish to attend the meeting in person, it is at Minneapolis City Hall (350 South 5th Street) in Room 319. The agenda is here.

If you don’t want to copy/paste all the email addresses, click here to mail them all.

Talking points

  • I support the appeal for added density, and the increased floor area ratio.
  • This project is on a high frequency transit corridor, on the 26th protected bikeway, close to downtown, and near many jobs, restaurants, parks: it is in a place where we need more housing, not less.
  • This project is very close to the Midtown Greenway, and other transit routes connecting to the University, Downtown, and the Uptown Transit Station.
  • This project contains an Aldi, which is a valuable addition to the neighborhood, providing more grocery options at different price points (the nearest grocery store otherwise is the Wedge Co-op).
  • We are experiencing a regional housing shortage. One of the ways we correct this is allowing more housing to be built in desirable areas, on transit lines. We need to encourage people to live in walkable transit friendly areas.
  • We are experiencing a global climate crisis. We should be promoting denser buildings in cities, and shorter and fewer commutes, because we do not want sprawl to destroy wetlands in suburbs and lead to greater fossil fuel emissions.
  • There is a large amount of what is termed “naturally occurring affordable housing” in the area. In order to protect the affordability of these homes and protect them from landowners trying to renovate and price people out, we must allow new market-rate units. This increases the overall supply of housing and gives people more housing choices.
  • The project has already decreased in scale and number of homes included since its original proposal 2 years ago, because area residents were concerned about height. This is a chance to undo some of that damage by allowing this project to contain more housing. There are already tall buildings in the area as well, so this isn’t a large departure.
  • The present state of zoning in Minneapolis strongly restricts development of this scale, making it extremely hard to build new mid-density buildings. Hacking off a few units here and there due to local concerns about height will add up to lots of lost units across the city.

Bonus GIFs: The Before and After

Included in the latest staff report are some before and after renderings of the change, presented through the magic of GIF technology.

The view from across 26th St, looking south-ish.
The view from the corner of Lyndale & 26th, looking southeast: (The project isn’t going to shrink spacetime, the images just aren’t as lined up.)

Bonus: Mixed-use & 4+ stories in the area

Lyndale Ave is already home to numerous mixed use projects, ranging from older buildings to newer buildings from the past 10 years, to those under construction now. Here’s a smattering of what exists, there’s more!

2743 Lyndale Ave S: 4 Stories, apartments & home to World Street Kitchen, Milkjam, and some other businesses.

2833 Lyndale Avenue South, apartments, sushi and a chiropractic center. 5 stories:

2009 Lyndale Ave S / Mortimer’s: 75 housing units and 32 parking spaces, 6 stories:

771 West Lake St: mixed use, 5 stories, built in 1913:

Extra extra bonus: Tiny & Old Mixed Use

2401–2407 Lyndale Ave S: Urban Bean, Omforme, Encore Music & apartments. Built: 1910.

2600 Lyndale Ave S: C.C. Club & apartments, built 1884:

2556 Lyndale Ave S. Common Roots & Apartments. Built: 1892.