The immediate neighbors to a recently approved 41-unit apartment project at 3612/16 Bryant Ave S have notified the City of Minneapolis of their intent to file a lawsuit in order to stop construction. [Read the complaint.]
The apartments, located near a transit and commercial corridor at 36th and Bryant, were approved by the City Planning Commission on April 23. Neighbors of the project, led by Steven Verdoorn, appealed that decision to the City Council. That appeal was denied in May. Verdoorn is also one of the plaintiff’s behind the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that the apartment proposal approved by the city council “represents a substantial change in the character of the neighborhood and is a substantial detriment to neighboring properties.” There are three four-story buildings directly across the street from the site. There’s a seven-story building a half-block north.
The complaint also alleges, among other things, that the city “abused its discretion” because “the density approved was more than three times the maximum required by the comprehensive plan.”
The lawsuit can be seen partly as an extension of the ongoing politics around the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan update. The lawyer representing Verdoorn (and “Friends of 36th Street”) is Timothy Keane, who is also the registered agent for a group called Minneapolis for Everyone. This is the organization famous for its red apocalyptic yard signs with messages like “STOP Mpls 2040.”
Minneapolis 2040 is the name for an update to the city’s plan to accommodate equitable growth in Minneapolis over the next 20 years. Opponents of the plan have concerns about density, traffic, and neighborhood change. Supporters of the plan like that it tries to address the housing shortage caused by ongoing population growth, and fosters neighborhoods that are less car-centric.
(Full disclosure: one of the leaders of Minneapolis for Everyone is Carol Becker, who is the elected official and trademark troll who recently tried to steal the name “Wedge Live” which is the name of the website you are reading right now.)
The 36th and Bryant lawsuit comes on the heels of a Minnesota Supreme Court decision ending a years-long legal battle over a condo tower on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. A group calling themselves Neighbors for East Bank Livability, many of whom live in towers themselves, were successful in delaying the project for years. Ultimately neighbors lost in court — in addition to losing the $100,000 bond they were required to post in order to move forward with the lawsuit.
ANALYSIS: Even if neighbors can’t win in court, lengthy delays aren’t just costly, but they have the potential to kill projects entirely. The economic situation years from now might not be conducive to constructing an apartment building. Legal challenges and other delay tactics (from people with the means to deploy them) also work in tandem with exclusionary zoning that says whiter, wealthier neighborhoods are off-limits to change.