Solhem Co building

A 195-unit apartment building is being proposed for the western edge of Edina by Minneapolis-based Solhem Companies. (Photo courtesy city of Edina)

A developer is proposing the construction of 195 apartment units near Highway 169 and Londonderry Road on the western edge of Edina.

The project, led by Minneapolis-based Solhem Companies, would tear down the existing Londonderry Office Park to construct a four- and- five-story apartment building called Londonderry Apartments. The development team presented a sketch plan at the Dec. 7 Edina City Council meeting.

Curt Gunsbury, owner of Solhem, told the Sun Current the project is an opportunity to build a sustainable community that will “add a lot to the fabric of the area,” partly due to its close proximity to the Nine Mile Creek and the regional trail to the south, as well as the Southwest light-rail line’s Opus Station, under construction in Minnetonka.

The 2.6-acre site, located at 5780 Lincoln Drive, is zoned as a planned industrial district and guided in the 2018 Comprehensive Plan for office-residential uses. The project’s density is 75 units per acre, which is the maximum allowable density at the site.

Ten percent of the units in the development would be for affordable housing, which is in line with the city’s affordable housing policy, city documents said.

The project has 265 parking stalls, including eight surface spots, which is fewer than the city’s requirement. The mix of unit sizes would be alcove, one-bedroom, one-bedroom plus a den, and two-bedroom.

A planned unit development rezoning will be sought by the project team to allow variances in parking, the exceeded height, reduced setbacks and a high floor area ratio.

The proposed height exceeds what is allowed in the city at this site. The building will be four and five stories above ground at different sections of the development. But city staff said in a report that the height “seems reasonable” as the building steps back away from Bredesen Park and the nearby medium-density residential neighborhood. It would also be screened by trees along Lincoln Drive, staff said in a report.

Solhem Co project

An overview of the proposed project shows a pool, lounge area, dog run, eight surface parking stalls and common areas. (Photo courtesy city of Edina)

The building would include one partially exposed parking and common area level and one level of parking completely underground. The development’s two-story common space will have a drive-up entrance at the lower level with pedestrian access onto Londonderry Road from the upper level.

“The Londonderry project is really interesting because it has this elevation to it, which allows us to integrate the building into this hillside landscape,” Gunsbury said.

One issue that the development team must confront before moving forward on the project is the restricted sanitary sewer capacity in this area of Edina. The issue would have to be resolved before the team could garner approval for the project. Because of that, a timeline is still to be determined, Gunsbury noted.

City documents state that engineering staff are looking to address the issue, which could be done by increasing the size of pipes downstream.

City staff also urged the development team to consider pedestrian connections to the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail, which is located just south of the site.

Following the Edina City Council meeting and a Planning Commission meeting last month, Gunsbury said Solhem will review and incorporate ideas expressed by the city officials.

“We’re grateful for the City’s collaborative and thoughtful consideration of our project,” Gunsbury said in a statement emailed to the Sun Current.

– Follow Caitlin Anderson on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent

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