July 7, 2011

Hi-Lake Plan Special Meeting Minutes 07-07

 July 7, 2011, 6:30 - 8:45
East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center 
2307 17th Ave S.
EPIC web address: eastphillips-epic.com
Office: 2536 18th Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55404
6:35   Introductions:
Attendees: Judd Fenlen, Pete Keely, (Wellington) Rep. Karen Clark, Pat Fleetham, John Mortenson, Buddy Love, Gail Bjorgo, Marygrace Alton, Brad Pass, Chiffon Williams, Margaret Kirkpatrick, Shirley Heyer, Donna Neste, Audrey-Marie Leonard, Ticordia Copeland, Danny Hedin, Carrie Anne Johnson, Troy Benjegerdes, Maxwell Mortenson, Luke Jacob, Michelle Ferren, Mary-Juanita Leonard

Board Members: Carol Pass, Jenny Bjorgo, Linda Leonard, Earl Simms, Mary Gonsior,  Steve Struthers, Chiffon Williams
Short notice, terrific turnout. Important issue.

6:40   Mpls. Core Principles of Community Engagement, EPIC Process Expectations,
Core Principles of Community Engagement
1. Right to be involved – Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
2. Contribution will be thoughtfully considered - Public participation includes the promise that the public's contribution will be thoughtfully considered.
3. Recognize the needs of all - Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision-makers.
4. Seek out involvement - Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
5. Participants design participation - Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
6. Adequate information - Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
7. Known effect of participation - Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.
Copyright IAP2. All rights reserved. Adopted by Minneapolis City Council, December 2007

Introductions:  made after reading through the core principles of community engagement.

6:46   Presentation of  Hi-Lake Plan by Judd Fenlen,Wellington Developers

CP distributed copies of the development Plans from Sept. 29, 2010 (5 pages.) Judd F. of Wellington Management, and Pete (architect) gave a brief presentation of the plan, after which the floor was opened up to questions.

The plan is for a 68 unit apartment building, mixed use. About 7,500 SF commercial on the ground floor. Owner manages the Hi-Lake Shopping Center, which is 100% occupied. Also owns the former Green Institute, behind the Hi-Lake Shopping Center. As the managers of the center, they have dealt with ongoing maintenance problems with the triangle of land next to the Light Rail Station. The land was sold to Wellington, and have been working on the plan now for a couple of years.

Starting with a site map, Pete described the "triangular" site and the challenges that are involved with developing this site, including traffic signals, the shape of the site, a dead-end parking lot, etc. Getting access out and through the shopping center is a priority for the shopping center and the neighborhood. Would like to fix up the back side of the site to improve traffic flow, improve lighting and clean up trash issues etc. Plan leaves room for 46 stalls.

Upper level is senior housing, 68 units on five floors, 14 units per floor (minus 2 units on the top floor reserved for community space. Judd states this seems the best use of the site, due to limited parking. Seniors leaving homes to move into apartments would leave family homes for families to purchase. There is little green space and no ability to increase. There are some "green" grant proposals out on the project to manage the storm water treatment in the area.

7:05   Neighborhood Q an A

  • Where is water being directed; what methods are being used? Ans. parked in front of a train station is really the perfect location for "hard space", although agrees that more green-space is needed in the city. Using porous pavers; a chamber underground to collect water; putting in a gray water system (irrigation) for an "urban garden";

  • Parking issue; even if the tenants don't use cars so much, visitors and friends will come to the building. Ans. A ramp would not really add many parking spots. This is a transit site, and a primary goal is to alleviate traffic flow problems, and - working with the city - to multi-task the space under the train to better use.

  • Community knew nothing about this project, surprisingly when this project is so well developed; Everyone asked wants more 2 bedroom units; Regardless of what bicyclists or others say, people have more cars than previous planning took into account; management issues with single units are intense; what if seniors don't live there? We don't want all singles living there, and the neighbors to this building don't want this. Adding 50% 2-BR would cut the parking need in half. It would also impact the crime issues related to large 0-1-BR buildings. With the LRT there now, there are serious crime issues. What if a drug dealer gets in the building? You need to consider this. EPIC would like to make 50% 2-BR a requirement. EPIC doesn't want to struggle with the issues that come with single BR housing. Ans. We have worked with a number of senior experts and the city (who is very in favor of senior housing). There seems to be confidence that there is a favorable senior market.
  • What about safety for these seniors? There are a lot of young people "hanging" in that area. There is a lot of noise in that area. What about parking at night? What about when it snows? How will they walk in the snow from parking. Ans. Have developed housing on some very busy commercial locations. Conventional wisdom is that everyone is going to want to live at the back of the unit; the most popular units turned out to be the commercial facing side of the building. Wellington is a company that stays and continues to invest in their properties.
  • Being in negotiations about the Greenway easement, where is that now? Ans. When this property came up the easement was arbitrarily 40 feet. Need to negotiate a better way to use the land under the tracks AND to provide for the trolleys, etc. Not sure yet how that will look.
  • Can you comment on accommodations for seniors? What about parking on the first floor, instead of the commercial? Ans. Universal design includes the ability to have accessible units, and allows people to come in and add these things as needed; also use of common space is considered a program element for eyes on the street to help with security. We looked at a plan for ground floor parking. Biggest problem was not fixing the traffic flow.
  • Will you offer seniors discounts and free transit, similar to other senior buildings? How long has this project been in the planning? Ans. Open to discounts and offers, etc. Bought the site two years ago.
  • Detail all the variances that you are receiving for this project? comment: ugly big black building; six stories! can it be tiered back? Ans. Building is comparable to one or two in the five-story range. Stepping back, the site is extremely tight, adds complexity and cost. Again, the question is, Is this the right location for density? We think it is and will be a positive investment for the community. Not anticipating any variances required for the project.
  • Singles, 19-40 year olds was discussed at previous meetings. Now the plan is for senior housing. Are you changing the market you are appealing to because of comments by the neighborhoods? If you put underground water-vaults, is this preventing underground parking? Can you single out "seniors" in marketing? Can you keep out the criminal elements? Comments: There are people who want to live in Phillips; we have built units in the midtown exchange, for example. Work with the neighborhoods. Ans. Focus shifted to seniors; we've gone back and forth; partially hearing concerns about security, and because of the city's goals, and because of parking issues. Biggest issue with underground parking, b the time you get underground, you lose about half the space you are trying to obtain; prefer to put the money into the outside features.

  • What are you going to charge people to live there? Metro median-income - what is affordable range you are seeking? Have you dealt with HUD issues with high-voltage transmission lines; there was a denial by HUD due to health hazards related to electricity; can you check this out? Ans. Rents for workforce and seniors are different. Can't remember the rates discussed before, but will email the rates after this meeting. Will send the income range for these units by email. Will check out the HUD issue.
  • Is the LRT station accessible to wheelchairs? Will there be bike racks, accessibility to bicyclists? Ans. Will probably be a "walk-through" area.
7:20   EPIC Board Recommendations (from polling the Hi-Lake businesses and East             Phillips Residents

  • Somali and Latino community leaders and residents requests 2 bedroom units for small family groups. Their seniors live with families, almost never alone.
  • Above 60% median income is not "affordable". EPIC would support trust funds for making units more affordable.
  • Businesses favor and request fewer units to lessen parking impact.
7:40   Neighborhood Decision (EPIC Board Recommendation)       

MOTION: EPIC moves that:

1)  the neighborhood and businesses be involved in all future planning by Wellington for     the Hi-Lake Apartments,

2)  that 1/2 (50%) of the apartments be two bedroom to encourage small families or groups to rent to prevent crime and better serving the existing immigrant and diverse community.

3)  that all apartments be handicapped accessible in all areas.

4)  that there be real balconies to deter crime and provide ‘eyes on the station’.

5)  that there be a program of consistant security officers on site

6)  that the parking area be fenced and

7)  that the parking situation be worked out with the tenants.

 We would like to have 50% of the units 2-BR. We would like all the units to be "accessible". We would like "real balconies". We would like there to be a program of consistent security officers present (but these requirements may make that not necessary.) The building needs security from the LRT; the neighborhood doesn't want to have to deal with the crime. All the business neighbors are very alarmed about the parking. We ask that you involve EPIC and the current tenants at the shopping center in the decision-making.

Friendly amendment by Troy Benjegerdes: #8. Take a serious look at solar on the roof, and greening on the building.

Motion passed with one opposed, and two abstentions.

7:50   Meeting Adjourned

Notes: an additional question...after the meeting from LL: How will pedestrian traffic be handled when people park in the new lot, and want to shop at the center (LL).