Apartment building with burn healing center may rise in Minneapolis

Mpls. building designed with free units and care center for burn survivors.

By Matthew Niksa Star Tribune
JULY 1, 2019 — 8:28PM

Sherman Associates plans to build an eight-story apartment building in downtown Minneapolis, with the second floor used by Firefighters for Healing as a home away from home for burn survivors. This rendering shows an early concept of the building with 11 stories, but the developer says it now plans to build eight stories. View is on the corner of 5th Avenue S. and S. 7th Street.

Developer Sherman Associates is planning a new apartment building in downtown Minneapolis that will include a healing center for burn and trauma survivors in cooperation with Firefighters for Healing, a nonprofit organization.

The eight-story building would be a block away from the Hennepin Healthcare Burn Center and occupy a portion of the block on which Thrivent Financial is building its new corporate headquarters.

The building would share underground parking with Thrivent and have 190 apartments. The project is a revision of an earlier one that included apartments and a hotel.

Champlin-based Firefighters for Healing would oversee a healing center on the building's second floor that would be comprised of 12 one-bedroom apartment units. The center will also have a common area for patients and families, and meeting space for the organization's board and volunteers, said Paula Wilhelm, social media director for Firefighters for Healing.

The apartments would be available free to burn and trauma survivors and their families who must travel an hour or more from home to Hennepin Healthcare and need to stay at least a week, Wilhelm said. For burn and trauma survivors and relatives who need to stay less than a week, Firefighters for Healing provides vouchers for hotels near the hospital, she said.

Since last summer the organization has provided three one-bedroom units free to burn survivors in HQ Apartments, a recently built apartment building owned by Kraus-Anderson that is also near the hospital.

More than 50 families have stayed in the HQ units since they became available in July 2018, Wilhelm said. Families have typically stayed one week up to a month, depending on the severity of the survivor's injuries or trauma, she said.

"The apartments have been very useful for patients to transition to after discharge [from the burn center] to see what issues they have when hands are bandaged, limbs need dressing changes or they have difficulty walking," Wilhelm said.

The apartment building will be on the southern half of a parking lot that is bounded by S. 6th and S. 7th streets and 5th and Portland avenues. It would be connected to the skyway system, an attraction for prospective residents who work downtown, said Shane LaFave, director of multifamily development at Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates.

The building's first floor would have a 14,000-square-foot day-care facility and outdoor play area and 5,000 square feet of retail space, which Sherman is looking to fill with fitness users and a coffee shop, LaFave said. The second floor would be the approximately 14,700-square-foot healing center and the third through eighth floors would offer market-rate studio, one- and two-bedroom apartment units.

The building's total square footage would be approximately 282,000 square feet, including parking, but because the building is in its preliminary design phase, the square footage is subject to change. Sherman plans to submit project plans and renderings to the City of Minneapolis in early fall, LaFave said.

Sherman said it would partner with Thrivent to manage two levels of parking below both the building and Thrivent's new headquarters on the northern half. About 200 of the 350 parking spaces under both buildings would be dedicated to serving the southern half, LaFave said.

Sherman initially considered building a 152-unit, 12-story apartment building on the southwest portion of the block, with a 133-room, 10-story hotel on the eastern side along Portland Avenue. But the firm canceled that plan last summer because the hotel component didn't work financially, LaFave said, and because it was too difficult to find a hotel that was the right fit and wasn't already present downtown.

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