Uptown Sons of Norway development boasts turreted lobby, ice rink, and 'fjord'


The company has said rentals will start at $975 per month. The units will range from efficiencies to townhouses to penthouses, which could rent for around $4,000. Ryan Companies/Weidner Apartment Homes

The Ryan Companies have unveiled their proposed development for the Sons of Norway site in Uptown. Fan or detractor, there’s no denying it’s bold and will define the neighborhood for decades to come.

Covering a chunk of real estate that consumes three-quarters of a city block, the complex is a cluster of six buildings, the highest rising seven floors. They’ll house about 325 apartments with retail space below. Nearby will be a 10,000-square-foot “fjord,” open space that the developer plans to transform into a skating rink come winter. An underground garage accommodates almost 350 vehicles.  

If girth wasn’t enough, a turreted plaza at the corner of Lake Street and Humboldt Avenue provides the architectural garnish. The cylinder anchors the complex with windows in all directions. This portion will serve as a lobby, retail space, and residential units upstairs. 

Still, the project has gotten mixed reviews. 

The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association is a supporter. It applauded the construction of more apartments that will help to fill the area’s insatiable “need” for residential.

The company has said rentals will start at $975 per month. The units will range from efficiencies to townhouses to penthouses, which could rent for around $4,000, according to Ryan’s Tony Barranco.

The neighborhood group loves the idea of  “an urban mixed-use, pedestrian friendly community that allows residents to live, work, and play without dependence on daily automobile usage.”

On the flip side, residents attending an East Calhoun Neighborhood Organization meeting earlier in November voiced concerns about height and what erecting such a high-density complex so close to single-family homes could do to the flow of the neighborhood. 

Barranco isn’t surprised by the reactions.

“We’ve got a range of opinions, from what you’re proposing is spot on and great to, ‘Whoa, this is a lot of change coming,’” he says. “I don’t think you can take one of the largest surface parking lots in such a prime area like Uptown and put a project on it and not expect to have reactions.” 

Open space is meant to invite pedestrian traffic. Barranco says the intent is to enlarge the footprint of Uptown living without disrupting the vibe.   

Barranco believes the project is the largest in Uptown in a decade. He knows conversations lay ahead with neighbors unconvinced about the impact of hundreds of more people. He says Ryan hasn’t yet come up with a final budget, but estimates construction of each unit will cost in the neighborhood of $300,000.

As a Minneapolis resident who lives near Uptown, Barranco feels the weight of doing the project right architecturally and in a manner so residents don’t feel he's bullying his way into the neighborhood.

“Listen, this is our city too,” he says. “We’re going to look at it through the same lens as everybody else. We don’t want to build a crappy project. We want to build something that looks great and adds to the community.”

Barranco hopes construction will start next summer.  


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