John and Ursula Lentz have lived near the Lakeside Club in Mahtomedi for more than 35 years.
The former dinner club, located at 10 Old Wildwood Road, is a local landmark that was featured in the movie “Fargo.” Remember that scene where Sheriff Marge Gunderson (Oscar-winning Frances McDormand) interviews some prostitutes? Gunderson’s patrol car can be seen parked outside the club in the snow.
After nearly 60 years of operation, the Lakeside Club was closed in 2020. St. Paul’s Hearth Development officials have proposed demolishing the vacant building and installing a three-story market-rate apartment complex on the four-acre site.
Lentz says the 39-unit development will radically change the character of their residential neighborhood, with mature trees and single-family homes retreating from the street.
“When you’re driving down Old Wildwood Road, you can see the houses, but they’re too far back from the road,” said John Lentz. “If it becomes, it will suddenly be, ‘Boom!’ You will see it all.”
Lentz knows that the property, which is high-density, multi-family residential, will eventually be developed.
“There is no question that some development … that would fit and be desirable in the neighborhood and the city,” Ursula Lentz wrote in a letter to city officials. “However, apart from the Lakeside Club, which has closed, there is no business in the area, nor is there any multi-family housing nearby. Except for the Lakeside Club, the area is single-family residential. A three-story apartment The building does not fit into the neighborhood; a more cohesive, smaller development was needed and was requested by the nearly 200 neighbors living in the area. … The proposed structure would be twice as tall as the adjoining houses and would have a footprint Will be about 10 times bigger than the adjoining dwellings. This is not what one would call harmonious.”
Among neighbors’ concerns: increased traffic, loss of natural light, light pollution and environmental issues.
“People move to Mahtomedi because it’s a ‘small town’—that’s the tagline on every welcome sign you see coming into town,” said Kelly McShane, who also lives in the neighborhood. “A building of this size and this density does not fit into the mature and dense single-family neighborhood where this development is being proposed. It is going to stick out like a sore throat.”
The developer’s request for construction of the 39-unit complex will be heard by the city’s planning commission on Wednesday night. The issue is expected to be heard by the Mahtomedi Municipal Council on May 17.
City planner Hannah Rybak said that in addition to site-plan approval, Hearthstone officials are seeking approval of variations to allow for setback deviations and setbacks from the city’s Shoreland Overlay District maximum-height requirement.
In 2014, city officials approved plans for a 39-unit senior cooperative on the site, but the project was never built, Rybak said, as developers had to meet the threshold of units to sell to begin construction. was not able to.
Chulha officials had come up with plans for a 41-unit complex and a 47-feet-high pitched roof in the city in February. The Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend rejecting the project.
The developer then changed their plans, reducing the number of units to 39 and switching to a flat roof that reduced the overall height to 34 feet, 5 inches, Rybak said.
In addition, the developers reduced the southeast side of the building from three stories to two stories, which reduced the visual impact of the structure from Lincolntown Avenue, she said.
In his memorandum to the city authorities, Rybak wrote that giving variation with respect to height and setbacks would not alter the essential character of the terrain.
“There are roads, a trail, parkland and large wetlands around the property that provide additional buffer space between the proposed apartment building and single-family homes in the area,” she wrote. “The gap that exists between them ensures that none of the other residential uses will be overshadowed by this development. The twenty-nine units of housing are far less impressive than the traffic generated by the restaurant that used to operate on the site. Landscaping The plan is strong and serves to soften the impact of the building.”
City Administrator Scott Nielsen said the city identified the area as high-density, multi-family housing in its Comprehensive Plan for 2040, a document designed to guide development and infrastructure priorities.
The project will meet the goal of diversifying housing options within the city, he said, as the market rate, there is a dearth of age-restricted apartment options. He said there is only one other market-rate apartment complex in the city right now.
In November, Mahtomedi city officials approved plans for Wildwood Apartments, a 110-unit apartment complex, half of which would be reserved for low-income tenants. There are also plans to build another 59-unit apartment complex on the grounds of the St Andrews Lutheran Church property.
Mahtomedi Lakes will have a community room, outdoor patio, rooftop courtyard and fitness center. The apartments will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, with the six largest units – two bedrooms, two bathrooms and den – coming in at 1,473 square feet, said Link Wilson, partner at Cass Wilson Architects in Bloomington.
Plans call for a 48-stall underground parking area as well as 25 surface parking spaces. There will be connections to walking and biking trails, indoor and outdoor bike parking, a charging station for electric bikes, a charging station for electric cars, attached garbage and recycling chutes, and a secure package delivery area.
“For a small, 39-unit apartment building, it’s packed with a lot of amenities,” Wilson said. “The team, which includes a biologist, landscape architect and a civil engineer, has worked very hard on this site to create a beautiful building that responds to the natural qualities in and around the overall neighborhood.”
Despite the features, the project doesn’t suit the character of the surrounding community, McShane said.
He said most other sites in Mahtomedi that are high-density, multi-family, include moderate tremors and are within or near commercial, commercial or industrial business districts. In the case of Mahtomedi Lakes, there are over 100 homes within a quarter-mile radius of the property.
McShane said he and other neighbors look forward to seeing improvements to the site, but that any improvements must be made “with careful planning and without extraordinary variation requests”.
“This scheme does not improve the character of the community,” he said. “We believe it mitigates it.”