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South Minneapolis residents rail against proposed apartment building's tiny parking lot

Neighbors say the developer hasn't earned a variance granted by the city to put in only 10 parking spots for a 23-unit apartment building in Tangletown.

Neighbors say the developer hasn't earned a variance granted by the city to put in only 10 parking spots for a 23-unit apartment building in Tangletown. City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis’ winding, tree-lined Tangletown neighborhood was all set to get a new 23-unit apartment building: Fullertown Flats.

It was supposed to be four stories, located right by Fuller Park, with a mix of 14 studios, six one-bedrooms, and three two-bedrooms, according to Southwest Journal. Rent for one of those studios would fall somewhere between $1,200 and $1,400, and it would be just a hop, skip, and a jump from a number of bus stops.

But there was one big problem, according to some Tangletown residents. The developer on the project, Urban Cycle co-founder Joshua Segal, requested a variance that would allow him to provide only 10 parking spots for the building instead of the standard one per unit. It was allegedly an attempt to make the building more affordable and greener, and to target tenants who would rely less on driving.

Neighbors, however, aren’t persuaded. About 30 showed up at a meeting of the city’s Zoning and Planning Committee on Halloween morning to protest. They argued transportation in the area wasn’t as robust as it looked—particularly not in the middle of the day. What if the new tenants did need to drive, they asked? Where are all those cars going to go?

“Pulling out of our driveway is already dicey as it is,” one resident said.

“It will stress our already congested streets,” another added.

“Grand is a very narrow snow emergency route,” a third said.

According to lead appellant Erik Takeshita, some 400 people who signed a petition opposing the variance were there in spirit. His argument—aided by an attorney—was that first of all, putting in a tiny parking lot would have an outsized impact on the neighborhood.

“Even if everyone who lives here doesn’t own a car—which kind of seems unlikely—there’ll still be hundreds of commercial vehicles with Amazon drop-offs or BiteSquad or DoorDash or Lyft… that will cause a problem for emergency vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians in the neighborhood,” he said at the podium.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Takeshita argued that the project didn’t qualify for a variance in the first place, and the city couldn’t legally give it one—no matter how “noble” its intentions.

“I don’t care if you’re the president or the planning commission, you have to follow the law,” he said.

In the end, the committee agreed and allowed the appeal. That sent Segal back to the drawing board on plans. He didn’t respond to interview requests, but he told the Southwest Journal he was thinking about lowering the number of units to between 12 and 14, which would “significantly” raise the average rent. He told the Journal after the hearing that he and his team had gotten “bullied” by the neighborhood.

“I respect the neighbors, but I thought it was a little bit dramatic,” he said. “The emotions and the politics won. I’m not this big bad developer… I had looked at houses in Tangletown and considered moving my family here, but I don’t know if I feel that way right now.”

He told the Journal he plans to submit a revised proposal by the end of the month.