The Izzy’s Conundrum: Can condos co-exist with light industrial?

Izzy’s is expanding. Owners Jeff Sommers and Lara Hammel plan to build an ice cream factory in Minneapolis. They’ve put in an offer for a city-owned empty lot near the Guthrie Theater. If all goes according to plan, the facility will be up and running by spring 2013. [Pioneer Press, Dec. 16, 2011]

Great! The City of Minneapolis is getting a great locally-owned ice cream shop, right?

Shamrock Development of Coon Rapids said it can’t build its planned 12-story, 150-unit apartment building across from Gold Medal Park if the city follows through on the sale of an adjacent lot to Izzy’s Ice Cream. Shamrock Development believes noise and trucks from the factory would make the new apartments “no longer a viable project.” [Finance & Commerce, Nov. 8, 2011]

It brings up the question: can condos co-exist with light industrial uses?

In the Mill City Times, writer David Tinjum criticizes the proposal as being more a factory than a retail operation and that “Regardless of what is being produced, once approved and constructed it will remain a factory regardless of which company owns the building.  Future owners of the building will not need any approval from the City of Minneapolis for any use allowed under the Minneapolis Zoning Ordinances.” [Mill City Times, Jan. 13, 2012]

In a follow-up piece, Tinjum continues by criticizing the financing behind the project.

[For more in-depth analysis on the number, visit "CPED Needs a New Calculator"]

The numbers certainly look bad for Izzy’s. But, assuming the numbers were equal: would a small, light industrial site be inappropriate for the neighborhood that was, up until about 20 years ago, heavy industry? Does it matter that there are other light-industrial uses nearby?

The Izzy’s conundrum isn’t as easy as the question implies. In this particular situation, the proposed building is drawing some fire. It’s a one-story building that may not have a large retail storefront. Now, it might be premature to criticize the model without seeing more detailed renderings, but the one-story use may be a poor use for land that abuts Minneapolis’ newest park.

Let’s go back to the question; can condos co-exist with light industrial uses?

What are you thoughts? Share them in the comments section below, or if you were interested, make a comment at the thread over at the Minnescraper Forums.

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7 Responses to The Izzy’s Conundrum: Can condos co-exist with light industrial?

  1. Reuben Collins
    Reuben Collins January 16, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    I think there's no question that condos and light industrial can coexist just fine, but I still think it's questionable to have a standalone 1-story building in that location.

  2. Mike Hicks January 16, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    This seems to be the lightest of light industrial, so I don't see any problems with coexistence. Like Reuben said, my initial reaction was that it seemed strange to be putting up a 1-story building in an area which has gained a nice multi-story character after mostly being known for parking lots for the last few decades.

    Not only can this coexist with neighboring condos, it could coexist inside a mixed-use condo building!

  3. David Tinjum January 16, 2012 at 4:27 am #

    One of the problems the developer has is the location of the loading dock. If you go walk the property you'll see what a small parcel it is, eyeballing it it looks to be about the size of an inner city neighborhood home lot.

    The loading dock is at the rear of the building shown above, which will serve 18 wheelers (1-2 per week) as well as small delivery vans frequently throughout the day.

    The city approved site plan for the Park Vista condos show the entrance to the condos opening in very close proximity to the loading dock area. I can't think of another condo downtown whose front entrance opens onto a loading dock – it might make it tough to sell the market rate units.

    If this were an office building or some form of retail it would probably be seen as an amenity to the neighborhood and be much less problematic for the developer.

    I agree with the comments on the scale of the building.

    *Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in either of the competing projects other than owning a condo in the neighborhood. Mill City Times is a not-for-profit neighborhood website and does not accept advertising or other compensation from any sources.

    • Mike Hicks January 16, 2012 at 6:45 am #

      Thanks for pointing out the size of the lot. I had been under the impression the site was much larger.

      • David Tinjum January 17, 2012 at 1:29 am #

        Mike – the lot is 9,500 sf

  4. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke January 16, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    Oh, people will buy there. I think it can still be an amenity to the neighborhood! This is a great opportunity for the planning commission or someone to work out a solution that works for everyone.

    imagine how differently this conversation would be going if the factory produced anything other than ice cream?

  5. Ben Ganje January 23, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Regardless of what develops on the site–the value of the neighborhood will not be compromised. The identity of the Mill District is riding on the crest of the wave right now and a light industrial building will not change but only add a new dynamic to the mix.

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