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The Pitch meets delays

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By JANE MCCLURE
Too-high groundwater levels and rising construction costs have slowed the start on the Pitch, a six-story mixed-use development west of Allianz Field.
The six-story project, which was to break ground this fall, is delayed until 2020. Union Park District Council’s land use committee heard an update Nov. 18 from developer Wellington Management.
The Pitch is to be located at 427 N. Snelling Ave., the longtime home of Bremer Bank. The bank recently moved into temporary space at Spruce Tree Center and is to occupy part of the commercial space in the new building. The bank building is expected to come down in December.
The building will have about 158 units of varying sizes and 13,000 square feet of commercial space. Dwelling units will be a mix of micro-units, studios, one and two-bedrooms, at market-rate rents. Walgreens has been suggested as one of the other commercial tenants.
The high water table has been a key factor in the delay, said Casey Dzieweczynski, Wellington project manager. “We put meters into the ground and over the last spring, we saw that the groundwater level was up seven to eight feet.”
That meant eliminating one of two planned underground parking levels for residents and reducing the amount of parking to 55 spaces on one level, said Dzieweczynski. To offset the reduction Wellington is considering adding an automated car lift to the underground level that would allow for approximately 30 more stalls, bringing the total to 85.
The parking change doesn’t require another round of St. Paul Planning Commission approvals. The original development had 142 parking spaces, with 25 for commercial patrons and 117 for residents. The second level of underground parking would have been for residents, as is the first level. But because the development site is zoned traditional neighborhoods three and is within one-quarter mile of Green Line light rail, there is no minimum number of parking spots required.
“I’m excited to hear that there is less parking,” said Henry Parker, a member of the UPDC board and committee. “It will show other developers and investors that there is not as much of a need for parking.”
The Planning Commission in April approved a conditional use permit, floor area ratio variance and nonconforming use permit for the project. A conditional use permit is needed for height. The property is zoned for traditional neighborhoods three use, which allows a height of up to 55 feet. A height of up to 90 feet is allowed with a conditional use permit; a height of 75 feet is proposed.
The nonconforming use permit allows the new development to have two drive-through lanes, one of the bank and one for the pharmacy. The existing bank building has two drive-through lanes.
Another change is in contractors. Original contractor Watson Forsberg has been replaced by Hopkins-based Frana Companies. Frana is building the six-story Scannell Properties project north of the Wellington site. This fall the old Furniture Barn and World of Wireless building came down to make way for that new development. Frana is also working with Exeter Group to build an apartment building at Marshall and Western avenues this fall.
A third change is in project architect, with UrbanWorks Architecture replacing Pope Associates. New building drawings haven’t been completed, but Dzieweczynski said the structure would be similar to what was originally announced.






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