US Bank – Mortenson Task Group (USMTG) Formed
US Bank has been reducing its “brick and mortar” facilities practically everywhere in the country due to changes in the way bank services have evolved in the age of the internet. The US Bank building and land on East Hennepin is far larger than they need today or expect to need in the future. The site has been on the sale block for many years. Since US Bank will continue to have an office in the neighborhood in a smaller facility, they want a quality development next door on the site and have turned down numerous offers that did not meet their expectations.
Recently, the Bank has entered into an agreement with the Mortenson Development, a major local developer/builder most famous currently as the builder of the Vikings Palace, to develop the site. Preliminary design is for a high-density mixed-use residential & retail project on 2/3 of the site anchored on the corner of East Hennepin and 4th St NE, and a small stand alone branch bank building on 1/3 of the site anchored on the corner of 1st Ave NE and 4th St NE.
As NIEBNA has done for other major developments in the neighborhood an ad hoc Task Group has been formed to handle neighborhood comment and review on the development. NIEBNA Board Members Craig Beddow and P. Victor Grambsch will co-chair the Task Group.
If you are interested in participating in the Task Group, send an email with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fourth USMTG Meeting (August 18, 2015 offices of Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.)
The meeting focused exclusively on refinements to the design presented at the July 20 meeting. Details of the design discussed at the meeting and that will be presented at the Planning Commission Committee of the Whole on August 20, 2015 are here.
While the design was basically the same and the July 20 design, certain small improvements were made. The step back between the podium facade and tower facade was clarified and increased slightly. While some members of the USMTG would still like a bigger step back, the current proposed set back was deemed either acceptable or not so major a flaw that the design could not be supported.
After general discussion both among USMTG member and members of the public in attendance, the USMTG by unanimous vote passed a resolution (text here) recommending that the full NIEBNA Board support the proposed design. Mortenson expects to be before the Planning Commission in late 2015. NIEBNA Board consideration of the USMTG recommendation in on the agenda for the September 2015 Board meeting.
Third USMTG Meeting (July 20, 2015, offices of Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. )
This meeting focused on the proposed Mortenson building. Mortenson presented a revised design of a 25 story tower rising from a 6 story podium anchored to the corner of 4th st NE and East Hennepin. The design calls for 260 market rate rental up-scale housing units, 6,000 Sqft of retail space facing East Hennepin with entrance for both people and vehicles off 4th St NE. Parking for all purposes is in an above ground structure internal to be podium and not visible from East Hennepin and 4th St NE; the north facing of the structure (overlooking the US Bank site) will be screened with a mural or other artwork. This design generally meets the design guidelines and overall vision for the site of the NIEBNA Small Area Plan.
There was general discussion of various aspects and details of the design and various suggestions were made for Mortenson consideration and response at the next meeting.
One major point of discussion centered on the step back of the tower facade from the podium facade. Some felt that the step back was too small to effectively disguise the overall mass of the building from the street level view. There was no consensus among the USMTG members on the point.
While there were various loose ends and question about parts of the design, overall impression was that Mortenson was on the right general path for a building in the neighborhood.
Second USMTG Meeting (July 8, 2015, offices of Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. )
Meeting focused on proposed US Bank building. Meeting was moderated by Cunningham Group Architects staff and US Bank representative were present. Cunningham Group, architects for the Mortenson project next door, was retained by US Bank to revise the basic US Bank Building design to provide some consistency to the look and feel of the larger Mortenson project.
Major points from the discussion:
- Still a stand alone project, not treating the development as a single project.
- Still a single level, single use project
- Still surface parking and drive thru
- Some changes were made as a response to our initial USMTG meeting.
- reduce surface parking slightly
- more streamlined by pass lane to the drive thru
- style of the building is more urban in nature
- siting of the building is out to the property lines in the corner, per more urban guidelines
- will provide some “green” screening of the surface parking.
While the efforts of US Bank to respond to some of the comments and suggestion made at the June 16, 2015 USMTG meeting were appreciated, the current proposed design still falls far short the NIEBNA Small Area Plan (SAP) design guidelines and expectations for the site. Therefore, the design is very unlikely to garner support from either the USMTG or the NIEBNA Board.
Note: subsequently, US Bank decided to subdivide the overall site to create separate US Bank (approx 1/3 of the site) and Mortenson (approx 2/3 of the site) development sites and to proceed with the City entitlement process for their building independent of Mortenson. This effectively ended any further consideration of the proposed new US Bank building by the USMTG.