A Florida residential developer wants to build a six-story apartment building on the former Chili’s site in St. Louis Park’s West End. But the city council said the 163 proposed apartments might be too dense for the area.
The building, located just south of Highway 394 near Highway 100 at 5245 Wayzata Boulevard, would hold studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms and incorporate a series of courtyards and green spaces. A one-bedroom apartment would cost around $1,500 a month to rent.
But council members were split on the proposal, with some arguing that the project’s density would bring too much traffic to the area and others making the case that a large apartment complex could be a good way to develop the neighborhood.
Council member Julie Ross repeated that the project is “way too dense, way too dense,” while Sue Sanger took issue with the site for being “isolated.”
“You showed us all these pretty pictures, but you can’t get beyond the fact that this is right by two major highways,” Sanger said. “I’m not even sure if that’s appropriate for housing.”
Council member Sue Santa shared some of those concerns.
“A lot of residential right next to a freeway, it’s noisy, it smells,” she said. “I have a growing concern about the number of rental units that are coming in.”
But council member member Steve Hallfin said that apartments in the West End would make the area “more vibrant.”
“If we’re going to build more rental units,” he said, “it’s an okay place to do it because it’s a walkable area.”
Council member Anne Mavity was the most enthusiastic about the project, explaining that different areas of St. Louis Park should offer different types of development, though she also expressed some reservations.
“I think that having this kind of density in that location is exactly where the density should be,” she said, adding that “I think this once again is a lost opportunity to try to provide a balanced housing market in our community that we wouldn’t have one of these units, two of these units that are affordable.”
Mayor Jeff Jacobs summed up the general consensus that “density may be something of a problem,” asking the developer, Dolce Living, to come back with a proposal with slightly fewer units or to explain how traffic would be impacted in the area.Dolce Living hopes to eventually build a second apartment building on the adjacent Olive Garden site; the restaurant has a long-term lease set to expire in several years.