Stay in the Loop

Opus project to double as gateway to North Loop

Image: The six-story North Loop apartment building proposed by Opus will offer a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments and perks including a rooftop terrace, fitness room, pool and spa. The biggest perks are the green space and connection to the river, the developer said. (Submitted image: ESG)
 The Minnetonka-based Opus Group is planning a 200-unit luxury apartment building on a 2.5-acre site at 800 First St. N. in Minneapolis, part of a 15.6-acre property owned by the Star Tribune newspaper. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)
The Minnetonka-based Opus Group is planning a 200-unit luxury apartment building on a 2.5-acre site at 800 First St. N. in Minneapolis, part of a 15.6-acre property owned by the Star Tribune newspaper. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

The bar is high for The Opus Group’s newest project in the hip North Loop of Minneapolis. The Minnetonka-based developer is planning a 200-unit, luxury apartment building on one of the last open spaces adjacent to the Mississippi River.

The development, which has not yet been named, is slated for a 2.5-acre slice of a site at 800 First St. N., a 15.6-acre property owned by the Star Tribune newspaper. The new development will be at the corner of West River Parkway and the Plymouth Avenue Bridge.

As such, it will be the first thing someone sees coming into the area, said Tim Bildsoe, board president of the North Loop Neighborhood Association, adding any new development there should fit the part.

“It’s a gateway to North Loop so we want to make it as inviting and attractive as possible,” Bildsoe said.

Opus aims to oblige.

The six-story building will offer a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments with a number of resident perks that are now de rigueur, said Nick Murnane, director of real estate development at Opus: a rooftop terrace, fitness room, pool and spa.

The setting will be the main draw, however.

“The largest amenity will be the site itself,” Murnane said in an interview. “It’s got an extensive amount of green space, and it’s near the [bike and pedestrian path along the] West River Parkway. We want to make it feel like an extension of the park.”

Part of the lot is taken up by the Star Tribune’s printing facility. To preserve green space, the new apartment building will be fairly close to the facility. The design calls for larger setbacks from the road than what is required by city code, Murnane said. The plan also calls for a cut-through path for pedestrians and bicyclists, which ties it to the existing trail to the south.

Opus will close on the site acquisition in the first quarter of 2018, most likely. Earlier this year, the Star Tribune asked Minneapolis-based brokerage NTH to market the site to potential developers, said NTH Principal Anna Coskran. Opus won out over a mix of bidders that included mostly local players, she said, though there were a few out-of-town developers.

Coskran and Murnane declined to disclose Opus’ proposed purchase price.

The apartment proposal will go to Minneapolis’ Committee of the Whole on Dec. 7. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin next summer and the building will be complete sometime in 2019, Murnane said.

Minneapolis-based ESG has design duties. Opus will handle construction.