by Joni Astrup
A seven-story building housing 139 apartments, two restaurants, commercial space and other amenities proposed on a site between the Mississippi River and Highway 101, just south of 101 Market in Otsego, has taken a step closer to becoming reality.
The Otsego City Council voted 3-2 Monday, March 13, to approve preliminary plans and other items related to the development, called Mississippi Landing. The proposal will come before the council again for final approval at a later date before it can proceed.
Voting in favor on Monday were council members Brittany Moores, Jeffrey Dahl and Tina Goede. Voting against were Mayor Jessica Stockamp and Council Member Ryan Dunlap.
Jesse Hartung of Modern Construction of Minnesota in Elk River is the developer behind the project.
He told the City Council that the building is designed to have a Main Street feel with a high-end classic look in colors that don’t fall out of favor. The building would have a variety of heights with the bulk of it being seven stories tall.
It would have a lobby that’s 2.5 stories tall and amenities including a public plaza and rooftop patios.
Plans show that the building would be 212,951 square feet in size, which includes 15,644 square feet of commercial, retail, office and restaurant space.
The building is Phase I of a multi-phase development that Hartung has in mind and that he outlined his plans for to the city a couple of years ago. Under questioning from the council on Monday, he said Phase I could stand on its own if the future phases never materialize for some reason.
Hartung said Phase I would be well over a $25 million investment and the total project would be more than $100 million.
Regarding Phase I, Hartung said he would own and operate the building and have a property management company involved. Both restaurants would also be owned by him. One would be his Tipsy Chicken restaurant now located in Elk River and a second restaurant would have a slightly different concept.
An upper level sky lounge is also shown on the plans.
Hartung said he intends to bring letters of intent from businesses interested in locating in the building to a future council meeting.
He envisions other things at the building as well. He said he intends to open a recreational rental facility where people could rent bikes, scooters, pontoons, paddleboats, kayaks and so forth. He also has plans for a golf simulator that would be free for tenants and open to the public for use, and for on-demand car rentals.
Concerns about the height of the building, ownership of an outlot along the Mississippi River, adequate parking and other issues were discussed at length before the council vote.
Council considers parking, park land, building height
Ownership of a parcel of land along the Mississippi River near the proposed building is one of the issues associated with the project. The parcel is known as Outlot A. Hartung wants to own the outlot and turn it into a private park with public access in a future phase of the development. The city wants the land for public park purposes.
A condition approved Monday by the City Council requires Outlot A to be deeded to the city unless an alternative arrangement is approved with future phases, City Planner Dan Licht said.
Parking also was discussed.
As proposed there would be 122 parking stalls in a parking garage on the main level of the building and 104 stalls in a surface parking area for a total of 226 in Phase I. The city’s zoning ordinance requires 468 parking stalls, but the City Council has flexibility in that regard because the proposal is a Planned Unit Development.
Under a condition approved Monday by the City Council, Licht said the city is requiring the full number of parking stalls be built unless something changes in the future, which would have to be approved by the City Council.
Hartung said they’re happy to put in all the parking.
Building height was discussed by the City Council as well. The proposed building consists of parking on the main level with six stories above. The height of the building would be 82 feet. By comparison, Guardian Angels’ Riverview Landing in Otsego is 67 feet to the roof peak while The Village apartment building in Otsego is 47 feet to the roof peak.
Hartung said the height of Highway 101 affects the view. For instance, he noted that motorists traveling on Highway 101 are at par with the roof of the four-story Wyndham Garden hotel and waterpark along the highway.
He said he understands the desire to blend things in, but also wants Mississippi Landing to be a signature piece and a focal point.
“We really do want to get the height there and have people look at and appreciate the project, rather than sort of get that bird’s eye view at roofs and upper levels,” he said.
Council Member Moores expressed concern about the height of the building and getting people out in the case of an emergency.
Hartung said a taller building is actually more robust than a shorter one because additional fire protection requirements must be met. The building also has an extra stairway, he said.
The mayor also had concerns about the building height.
She said it’s proposed for a unique spot with the viewpoints from Highway 101 and maybe could see it being a little bit taller, “but I have some issues with how massive it is.”
She said she contacted other cities, and a lot of them said the building would be too tall for them for safety reasons.
Council Member Goede said she likes the look of the complex, thinks it’s a good location for it and doesn’t mind the height.
“I think with 101 being there, you need to have it visible,” she said.
Late in the meeting, Council Member Dahl wondered about the reasons for the two ‘no’ votes.
Council Member Dunlap said it’s a beautiful complex and he empathizes with the developer, but thought Hartung was seeking too many exceptions to the city’s rules.
Stockamp said she considered what was presented and attended the Otsego Planning Commission where it was discussed and heard the concerns voiced. She also said that Outlot A was an issue, she had concerns about parking and she didn’t support the building being as tall as proposed.
“I hope he can make it work,” she said of the project.
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