Giving Triplexes a Try in North Minneapolis
Terry Robertson, president and owner of Plymouth-based C-Alan Homes, is a luxury home builder. But now he envisions building triplexes in north Minneapolis, where luxury homes are scarce.
“I’d like to extend the quality of what we do in Edina into Minneapolis so inner-city folks can have a better product than what is currently being offered by developers,” Robertson says.
Critics of the city’s 2040 comprehensive plan beat back an idea to allow fourplexes, arguing that developers would start tearing up neighborhoods. The final version of the plan, in effect since Jan. 1, allows triplexes on any residential lot in the city. Robertson has eight sites, but hopes to have 14 to 16 lots by the end of the year.
“I’d like to extend the quality of what we do in Edina into Minneapolis so inner-city folks can have a better product.”
The vacant lots have been owned by the city of Minneapolis, which owns 414 residential lots on the North Side. Robertson wants to bring a new perspective to city development, which he says is dominated by a handful of firms.
“It’s the same old developers, and you don’t see anybody new pop up,” says Robertson, who also brought in North Sider Keith Dawson, “an up and coming developer,” to handle two of the sites.
Otherwise, there has been no rush to develop triplexes.
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“I’m seeing a very small number of permits since the beginning of the year,” says Wes Durham, a senior city planner with Community Planning and Economic Development. As of midyear, Durham said that the city had seen only three building permits for triplex projects, all conversions or renovations of existing properties.
Some of Robertson’s units will be for sale, but he’ll retain some as rentals. “Because the margins are thin for us, that’s the trade-off,” he says. “We have to hold [some units] to make our money back over time. We’ll do OK in the long haul.”
Robertson is also reaching beyond Minneapolis with his concept. In June, the Brooklyn Center City Council approved a C-Alan Homes plan to build 13 triplexes along Brooklyn Boulevard.
Durham says that the city is not dictating development on individual parcels but is encouraging a broader mix of housing types.
“We want to see a growth in the variety of housing types that we have across the city,” Durham says. “We’ve fielded phone calls from people [who] are curious [about triplexes]. It’s going to build over time. We’re still very early into all of this.”