A Recent Success Story!
As Wenck looks forward to 2020 and the many trends driving real estate development within the Twin Cities, a theme has emerged in the housing market. The rising cost of living and apartment rents have driven many away from the most desirable places to live which are located in the center of large cities. As a result, developers have been improving existing derelict areas along the city outskirts where costs are manageable and access to the urban core is still available. Often, these projects take the form of multi-family workforce or affordable housing within or adjacent to existing industrial or mixed-use districts. These developments are proving successful by providing places to live and work in a manner that is attractive from both a cost and livability viewpoint. As these types of projects continue to thrive in the region, Wenck is becoming a major player as the civil engineer and environmental scientist in the redevelopment industry.
Many existing industrial areas have been undergoing a transformation in recent years. Rundown, unappealing warehouses are opportunistic spaces for architects who partner with Wenck. Urban infill redevelopment areas that have been previously overlooked for more desirable locations are now being revitalized to instill new life and vitality into the community. Often, these areas have been previously passed by due to the many challenges of transforming the property. Whether it be environmental concerns, the hurdles of accommodating planning requirements for a new use or a mixed-use, or engineering constraints. These roadblocks routinely deter developers from trying to tackle these sites that are typically identified as a brownfield. What our clients see as obstacles, Wenck sees as opportunities. From concept to construction, Wenck is a dedicated team member for urban redevelopment projects and a go-to resource for planning, engineering, and environmental needs.
A prime example of a successful infill redevelopment project is the Hook & Ladder Apartments by Newport Midwest, LLC. In 2017, Wenck teamed up with LHB Architects and Newport Midwest to tackle a challenging, yet exciting industrial redevelopment opportunity. The project is located at 2320 Jefferson Street NE in the heart of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. Bounded by a railroad line and single-family housing, the 2.3-acre site was previously zoned for industrial use and housed manufacturing and warehouse buildings. Newport Midwest saw an opportunity to transform the property into 118 units of affordable housing for the community. Hook & Ladder incorporated sustainable, energy-efficient building techniques far beyond conventional affordable housing. The development includes two buildings: one built to comply with current Green Communities requirements, the other was designed and constructed to meet Passive House (PH) certification standards. Passive House standards call for an ultra-tight building that requires little energy for heating or cooling, as well as improved ventilation to improve air quality. The buildings have nearly identical floor plans, unit mix, and tenant population.
Wenck assisted Newport Midwest through all stages of development on this project with a variety of services. Initially, an environmental assessment was performed that showed asbestos was present on the site. Wenck created asbestos abatement and soil remediation plans. Next, Wenck surveyed the property and worked closely with LHB and Newport Midwest, to develop a site design. Grading and utilities, stormwater management, parking analysis, traffic demand management, platting, and full construction plans soon followed. The ‘Integrated Project Delivery’ model of Wenck’s consulting services allowed for a streamlined process from start to finish. The internal coordination of each
discipline allowed for a more efficient design process. This collaborative approach allowed us to overcome the challenging hurdles that the industrial redevelopment presented. Becky Landon, President of Newport Midwest, LLC, says she “appreciates working with Wenck’s multidisciplinary teams, whether it be environmental, civil, stormwater design, or survey services. The high level of expertise and professionalism makes the development process exponentially more smooth.”
Wenck stayed involved with the project through the City of Minneapolis entitlement and development approvals and throughout construction. We were excited that Newport Midwest successfully opened the housing facility this fall. You can read more about the property at the apartment’s website at Hook & Ladder Apartments. The many hurdles of this project; from contamination remediation and industrial rezoning to complex civil and architectural design requirements, were a welcomed challenge for the dedicated team of Wenck, LHB, Frerichs Construction and Newport Midwest. We look forward to future projects and are eager to provide redevelopment services that revitalize the communities where we live and work.
Contact Jack for more information!