September 20 2013

Sustainable Luxury: The New Face of Urban Living in Minneapolis

When one thinks of sweeping high rises, one often envisions the streets of New York, Chicago or Miami. However, this recent trend of providing luxury living space for young professionals and urbanites is sweeping the nation. Specifically, the growth of luxury apartments in Minneapolis has goals of altering the city to provide sustainable and high-density living options in the heart of the business and transit corridor.

Even for lower-income populations, such as the college community surrounding the University of Minnesota campus, corporations are using the high demand for urban housing to provide luxurious ‘green’ options. Among the new developments underway, 7West stands out as being the first housing unit in the University District to strive to be recognized by LEED. By converting a parking lot into apartments that maximize the use of natural lighting and minimize waste, 7West hopes to attain LEED GoldBoth the high environmental goals and the chic modern design of this project demonstrate a shift in architecture aspirations in the city.

New Student Luxury Living, University Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

Outside of the University zone, the popularity of luxury apartments is even more pronounced. More specifically, two new high-rise apartments, The Nic on 5th and the LPM Apartments, are expected to reshape the face of downtown with their unveiling in mid 2014. Being the first thirty-plus story high-rises in over thirty years, the projects are hope to create a strong network among the light rail based transportation, the skyway system, and the chain of ground level restaurants and retail. By converting space that previously contained standard two-story buildings and parking lots, the city hopes to strengthen the pedestrian-friendly downtown corridor with these and many other similar developments. These buildings will also be seeking LEED certification.

Renderings of the Nic on Fifth and LPM apartments, Coming to Minneapolis mid 2014

Although beautiful and typically more environmentally conscious, we must be mindful as this does come at a cost. Being that housing in Minneapolis is at a low (with a vacancy rate of 2%), housing is in high demand. The apartments above are all speculated to start at $1,000 per month to rent. Although typical for Minneapolis, we must be mindful of the changes, such an increase in costs and loss of building diversity, that will occur under mass real estate growth.

How will mass luxury developments alter the face of Minneapolis? Do the costs of living interfere with the sustainable aspects of the building’s design? Do these modern high-rises take away from the historic sense of the city?

Images by Abbey Seitz. Renderings from Startribune.com. Data linked to sources.

Abbey Seitz

Abbey Seitz is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Design of Art in Architecture and minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Growing up in a small suburb of St Paul, Minnesota, she knew no different than cold snowy winters filled with snowball fights and summers spent swimming in one of Minnesota’s many lakes. It was there that she gained an interest for the urban environment. This interest brought her to study in Chicago, Honolulu, and now Minneapolis, where she has honed her studies; how we can design and repair our cities to be environmentally sustainable and livable. Specifically in Minneapolis, she is intrigued in investigating how livable communities can be created through complete streets, public transportation, and urban agriculture.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 20th, 2013 at 9:18 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environmental Design, History/Preservation, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Sustainable Luxury: The New Face of Urban Living in Minneapolis”

  1. Think Planning Says:

    I am getting tired of the use of the word sustainable without any thought given to what sustainable means. With that in mind, what is sustainable about this project? What is sustainable about most projects that are touted as sustainable? What are you trying to sustain and does this project enable what ever you are trying to sustain to be sustained? I don’t want to pick on this article because there are so many other cases out there of the misuse of the term sustainability, but let’s get a discussion going.

    Thanks

  2. Abbey Seitz Says:

    Thanks for the input–I defiantly agree with you that the word sustainable is thrown around too often without reference to the meaning. In this article I wanted to question if some recent architecture trends, specifically in the area of new age high-rise apartments, are truly ‘sustainable’ as they claim. While many are LEED certified, which sets various standards involving localized building materials, passive cooling, energy efficient utilities, natural lighting, etc, they leave out various aspects, such as the possibility of causing gentrification in neighborhoods. While I believe it is a positive change for my community to start look towards LEED as a new building standard, I hope we continue to question if these are standards are high enough, and furthermore analyze other portions besides simply the build aspect (such as financial feasibility and neighborhood livability).

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