From the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association – Where Every Story Has Three Sides
What will likely make headlines in 2013 in Uptown? I’ll take a stab at predicting what will take place in 2013.
With five candidates, including incumbent Meg Tuthill, seeking to be elected to represent Ward 10 at City Hall, expect a long election season that may get a bit heated. We’ll know more in April when party activists in the DFL attempt to endorse a candidate for the race, but the last heavily contested race in the ward (2005) resulted in no endorsement, meaning that the race really lasted until the election. It could easily happen again.
It shouldn’t be a big surprise that Calhoun Square will be put on the market because that’s what huge investment firms do. They buy properties, invest in them, and then sell them once they’re leased up. However, real estate experts have said that the current owner paid too much for the properties and under built CB2 and the Cafeteria/LA Fitness addition, so the concern is that the upside on the property lies heavily on what can be done with the vacant property between Fremont and Girard Avenues. I predict it will go on the market for more than what they paid and invested, and won’t sell this year. And if it does, it will be sold to a mutual fund or insurance company.
Over the last few years the issue of pedestrian safety has grown, albeit slowly. There have been some positive developments in this area, with the City adding preemptive walk signals at Lagoon/Hennepin and Lake/Hennepin. With construction at the Walker Library, I expect that there will be more complaints about street crossings. Plus pedestrian issues always seem to be a trailing issue to bike issues, so given that bike issues were big in 2010-2012, I expect that walking becomes a bigger topic.
This is probably no surprise either, but I expect there will be a few more national brands who find their way into Uptown. This seems like a safe bet given the history over the last five years, but prime retail space is at a minimum. I’d expect it in Calhoun Square, potentially Citywalk (the new building where Cowboy Slims was), the temporary Ragstock space, and maybe one other spot at Hennepin-Lake. I also suspect Lyn-Lake will start to see another franchise enter in 2013.
The restaurant world is notoriously unstable. I expect that, like every year, there will be several restaurants that will close or change their image and menu. I wouldn’t be shocked if a high profile restaurant had this happen as well. Don’t expect many of these restaurants to sit vacant long, as there is a huge market for existing restaurant space. I wouldn’t rule out Cowboy Slims being reincarnated as Cowboy Jacks either. Actually, I would be surprised if that doesn’t happen.
With about 1,000 new apartment units either that have just come online or that will over the next 12 months, I don’t expect new construction to start in 2013. Industry experts appear concerned that the market can’t absorb that many luxury apartments, but that they think there is enough room for the current batch to open successfully. If there is a new start, it would likely be the next phase of Elan on the Greenway since it is already approved and there is motivation to manage more than one building in the market. I would expect other development projects to get submitted and approved in 2013, such as from a potential Calhoun Square purchaser or the next phase of MoZaic.
Thatcher Imboden is an Uptown/Lyn-Lake historian, works in urban real estate development, was past President of the Uptown Association, grew up in Uptown, and was on an Uptown neighborhood association board. He authors for his website OurUptown.com.