Jonathan Holtzman isn’t in denial. He knows that this isn’t the easiest time to build any commercial project.
But that didn’t stop Holtzman, chief executive officer of Minneapolis’ Village Green, from pressing forward with his plans to bring 175 luxury apartments to the Mill District/Washington Street corridor of Minneapolis.
And today, his commitment to the Mill District City Apartments has been rewarded. Sales staffers were able to lease more than 35 percent of the project’s living units before the first occupants even moved in. Those first residents arrived in October, one year after Village Green broke ground on the project. Construction will wrap up completely in either January or February of next year.
The project, then, has been a success. And Holtzman expects to lease the Mill District apartment units quickly.
But wasn’t there some concern on Holtzman’s part that this wasn’t the time to tackle a multi-million-dollar project, what with the national economy still in the throes of a recovery that doesn’t feel like one?
According to Holtzman? No. The strength of the project, and the city’s Mill District neighborhood, far outweighed the negatives of a down economy, he said.
“Village Green is a 91-year-old company, and we have seen business cycles that are unpredictable. Therefore, what is important for Village Green is the fundamentals,” Holtzman said. “The city of Minneapolis is a desirable city for our customers. The local, national and international companies in the city are dynamic and important. As an owner of apartment communities, we are by nature a contrarian. Our fundamental thinking is to develop, build and operate apartment communities during a period of downturn in the economy, and complete and lease-up the apartment community as the economy improves.”
Making a mark in Minneapolis
With the addition of Mill District City Apartments, Village Green has further cemented its status as a key developer in Minneapolis. The new project marks the company’s fifth apartment community in the downtown area.
These apartment communities have been good for the city budget, too. Village Green estimates that Mill District City Apartments will contribute each year $350,000 of real estate taxes to the city.
Not surprisingly, local public officials have been vocal in their support of the company’s projects.
“Under some of the most challenging economic situations, many people came together and put the extra effort in to make this project a reality,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, in a written statement. “The perseverance of our city’s economic development staff, local lenders like U.S. Bank and the team at Village Green are showing that Minneapolis is open for business, and that great things are happening in our city even during these difficult economic times.”
Located at the intersection of Portland and Washington avenues, the five-story Mill District City Apartments includes 175 luxury apartments. It also boasts a 3,500-square-foot specialty market.
The building features 39 floor plans, which range in size from 500 to 1,400 square feet. Its apartments boast 9- to 18-foot ceilings, oversized windows, pocket doors and hardwood flooring throughout their living spaces.
The units’ kitchens offer flat-panel shaker cabinetry with brushed stainless steel hardware, granite islands, built-in wine racks, contemporary track lighting and Whirlpool kitchen appliances that include glass cook-top ranges, self-cleaning ovens and above-range microwaves.
The project is significant, too, for following the National Green Building Standard, a standard equivalent to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification, created in partnership with the National Association of Home Builders, National Apartment Association and National Multi-Housing Council.
The building’s location, too, is an environmentally friendly one. Residents can walk to shops, restaurants and entertainment. They are located close to public transportation. Many will be able to walk directly to their jobs. This eliminates much of the need for these residents to hop in their cars every day.
City officials are also pleased that the new apartments will give a boost to their efforts to continually draw full-time residents to Minneapolis’ core. A wave of residents has already moved from suburban to urban living. These new residents, eager to live in a neighborhood filled with walk-to amenities, now have another option with Village Green’s project.
“I am excited that Village Green is going to fill the empty hole in our Historic Mills District,” said Lisa Goodman, Minneapolis City Council member representing the city’s 7th Ward, during the initial ground-breaking of the new apartments.
Fitting into the neighborhood
When developing its new project, Village green and architecture company BKV Architects were cognizant of the Mill District neighborhood, Holtzman said.
The design team took great pains to make sure that the new apartments fit well with the neighborhood’s existing character, he said.
“The city of Minneapolis and councilwoman Lisa Goodman require each developer to be involved with the neighborhood and the neighborhood associations,” Holtzman said. “The city considers this to be a benefit because we are a long-term owner/operator of our apartment communities. From an operational standpoint, as well as architecturally, BKV Architects and Village Green studied the surroundings to incorporate historic elements as well as modern elements to align with the operations of the community.”
In the last five years Village Green has built four other apartment communities in downtown and uptown Minneapolis, Eitel Building City Apartments, Lake Calhoun City Apartments, Loring Park City Apartments and Uptown City Apartments.
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