Dinkytown boutique-hotel plan faces delay

Courtesy of the City of Minneapolis
The building in question — at 1319 Fourth St. SE — was built in 1921 and currently houses Mesa Pizza and the Camdi Restaurant.

Plans for a boutique hotel in Dinkytown suffered a setback Friday when the Minneapolis City Council voted to require a study of the historic significance of a piece of property needed for the project.

That study, which could delay construction for as long as 18 months, was approved 8 to 4.

The building in question — at 1319 Fourth St. SE — was built in 1921 and currently houses Mesa Pizza and the Camdi Restaurant.

Doran Development had asked the City Council for permission to demolish the building and override a decision by the Historic Preservation Commission to stay demolition pending a study of its historical significance.

The council voted to override the commission and allow demolition of two other buildings needed for the hotel project, a single-family residence and a commercial building.

Kelly Doran of the development company has declined comment on the proposal to deny demolition.

“It is one of the last remaining old-school commercial corridors in our city,” said Council Member Jacob Frey, who represents the Dinkytown area. He also cited the area’s significance as a rallying point for protests in the 1960s and ’70s.

“It was a space where people would gather for anti-Vietnam War protests and eventually it was a spot where people would gather to stop corporate America from coming in and taking over their individual town,” said Frey, who also presented photos of “hippies yelling” and a helicopter dropping pepper spray on protesters.

“We are voting to give this some additional thought,” said Frey. He noted that the Dinkytown area has added 2,000 residential units in recent years, with another 400 to 500 under construction.

“I have some concerns about the further study,” said Council Member Lisa Bender, who noted that one-story commercial buildings are in abundant supply along the transit corridors of the city.

“It is a big deal to add one year to 18 months to any project,” said Bender. She had opposed the study of historic significance when it was considered in the Zoning and Planning Committee, which she chairs. For most projects, she noted, such a delay would end the project.

The Historic Preservation Commission voted earlier this month to nominate the entire Dinkytown area for historic study and possible designation as a historic district.

The Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association and the Dinkytown Business Association are finishing work on a small area plan for Dinkytown and surrounding area to guide future development.

“How we treat our historic resources is how we feel about our community,” said Council Member Lisa Goodman as she cautioned her colleagues about moving swiftly toward demolition. “This is an area clearly being studied for a historic district now.”

An earlier plan for a moratorium on all development in Dinkytown to allow time for a study did not move forward.

Goodman argued that taking time for the study still allowed development in Dinkytown and was a better option than a total ban by declaring a moratorium.

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/22/2014 - 10:26 am.

    A boutique hotel?

    In Dinky Town? And what was this thing going to look like?

  2. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/22/2014 - 11:29 am.

    It’s troubling that the new chair of the City Planning Commission (and the Zoning and Planning Committee?) seems to be applying a kind of cooky-cutter template on buildings that may have some historic significance “in situ.” To say that the building in question in Dinkytown is of the same type as lots of other commercial buildings in Minneapolis is to ignore context. And history.

    Anyone in Minneapolis who values saving some of the texture and flavor of our city should pay very close attention to the kind of theoretical generalities new CM Lisa Bender seems to be operating under. She increasingly sounds like a tear-’em’-down, pro-any developer’s plan advocate. I hope she learns something about what makes Minneapolis Minneapolis before she does too much harm.

  3. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 02/22/2014 - 12:22 pm.

    Is this a joke?

    Let’s see… no named architect for these buildings. No famous businesses that started or occupied them. “Hippies yelling and police pepper spray” as historical designation criteria? Frey calls it a commercial corridor – Central Avenue is a corridor, a two block street is not.

    Seems that this type of development is what the city leaders wanted and promised when the metro area funded light rail projects. They promised development and then, when it arrives, they don’t want it.

    If not in the commercial district adjoining the U of M campus, then where in the metro area is this type of development appropriate?

    • Submitted by Randall Davidson on 02/24/2014 - 03:33 am.

      No joke

      This type of development is still possible on the site in discussion and elsewhere in the Dinkytown retail district. Civil conversation would dictate that you be encouraged to look at the criteria for historic preservation, that CM Frey’s words not be misrepresented, that your description of the promises made by “city leaders” is rhetorical and not factual and that 2,000 new housing units built in the last year could be described as a commitment to growth.

      Some of the criteria can be found here: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@cped/documents/webcontent/convert_274715.pdf

  4. Submitted by mark wallek on 02/22/2014 - 02:19 pm.

    make it high end

    Lovely what dinkytown is devolving into. In keeping things on track, this hotel needs to be high end, with that hint of exclusivity so important to people staying near a public university. Especially the out of town sporting guests.

  5. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 02/23/2014 - 01:35 pm.

    It’s called generic destruction of the city sans character

    If a developer views his projects as “building a better mousetrap” be it higher-rate housing for students or seniors, as this developer has been so quoted ( Strib “Inside View’)…that’s a distinctly antiquated proverb that certainly reveals a singular attitude toward his ‘renters’…and this is not pleasing; one pretty cheesy perspective?

    Better any hole in the wall with historic character than a “trap”?

    Let the ‘cheese’ stand alone. Deny the development

  6. Submitted by Cordelia Pierson on 02/23/2014 - 07:13 pm.

    Growth with preservation – key for our vitality

    Dinkytown can grow and thrive—with thoughtful development and growth that gives back. That is good for business, and good for the city.

    Economic studies commissioned by the City in 2013 show that the health of Dinkytown depends on maintaining its historic character. Dinkytown’s history is its brand, and that brand sustains small, diverse businesses. The studies also point to the buildings in Dinkytown’s historic core as essential elements of its brand and vitality. “Placemaking”—maintaining a unique area identity—will be even more critical to Dinkytown as the pre-WWI business district competes with the post-LRT development in other University District commercial hubs like Stadium Village and the West Bank.

  7. Submitted by Randall Davidson on 02/24/2014 - 03:37 am.


    You can see one example of the kind of high-density housing in Dinkytown by examining the distinctive structure in the background to the left in the photo for this article.

  8. Submitted by Richard Kavaney on 02/24/2014 - 12:10 pm.

    Dinkytown proposed hotel

    I support the council’s action. While I support growth of our city I do not want it by elephant stomps over our special places. The first time I saw a drawing of the proposed hotel I though o’m’gaud the whole of 4th and 14th was gone. Minneapolis has some special places. I live on 6th avenue SE a block from the end of the Stone Arch Bridge. Life is where we live and we need to keep those things that make it special.

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