As Construction Approaches, Burton’s $38 Million Development Gets a Facelift | Local News

MANKATO – A $38 million apartment complex slated for construction soon in downtown Mankato has been redesigned after a negative community reaction to the initial architecture.

“The Burton,” which will offer 107 residential units and more than 32,000 square feet of retail space, is set to replace a vacant bank on Second Street near the foot of the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The prominent location added to skepticism of the proposed appearance when plans for the pair of six-storey buildings were presented to the Planning Commission and City Council last fall.

“It’s a great project,” Council Member Jessica Hatanpa said in November. “But I have never received so many complaints about the appearance of a building. …And it’s been brought up more than once, when entering Mankato through the bridge, this will be the first building you see.

Initial designs for the two-building complex at the main entrance to downtown Mankato included many types and colors of architectural panels, some of which had the appearance of clapboard siding typically seen on single-family homes.

The council finally approved the design compliance certificate. Even Hatanpa voted with the majority, noting that the development met city code requirements. But she asked the developers to consider a makeover.

Reactions in the many online comments to a Nov. 28 Free Press article about the redevelopment were also mostly critical.

Rendering of main and second apartment --- October 2021 release

The original design of a planned apartment complex, shown here from the corner of Second and Main streets, drew mostly negative reactions from Mankatoans last fall.

A Coldwell Banker Commercial Fisher Group spokesperson, while defending the original design, said on Friday the company was pleased with the new look and described it as a “very intentional” change at a time when the appearance of many developments is influenced by construction. – the challenges of the materials supply chain.

“The facade has a timeless yet modernized design that we think will appeal to everyone,” said Cate DeBates, vice president of the company. “The last design was stately, but the owners believe this new look will leave a lasting impression on visitors to our town centre.”

ISG, the architectural and engineering consultant for the project, submitted the modified designs to city officials. While designs continue to rely on concrete-based exterior wall panels, a higher percentage appear to imitate brick and stone, which are common materials in buildings in downtown Mankato, rather than the many multicolored and multi-faceted panels of the original plan. The colors are also softer and the buildings have a lot more glass.

In a May 31 letter to the city requesting a change to the previously approved design compliance certificate, ISG project coordinator Andrea Rand downplayed the extent of the changes. Rand described them as “minor exterior changes” and “overall contextual design improvements”.

“As with the previous approval, the building is still designed to incorporate multiple types of materials to create a dynamic and interesting addition to downtown Mankato,” she wrote. “Materials and color selection remain the same from the previous approval.”

Hatanpa, however, appreciated the adjustments and predicted that others would too.

“I think the new render looks beautiful and shows a more timeless design,” she said. “I had heard several residents say they didn’t like the original design. They felt the design was trying to incorporate too many design elements that didn’t work together. »

Although Hatanpa said people should generally be able to make aesthetic decisions about their property without undue interference from the city, The Burton project’s location is unique.

The Burton - 2nd and Main -- new design June 2022

The new design of The Burton, which will be the largest apartment complex in downtown Mankato, is shown in a rendering from the perspective of Second and Main streets.

“This building will be one of the first you see when crossing the bridge into Mankato and should set the tone for what you’d expect from downtown,” she said. “I appreciate that the developers have taken the community feedback on board and made some improvements. I haven’t heard from anyone about this new design yet, but as it addresses the initial concerns of many, I think people will have really feel like it fits downtown well.

Along with the design change, the proponents are seeking to amend the project’s conditional use permit.

The biggest change concerns the smaller of the two buildings, which share an enclosed parking lot and will be connected by a common outdoor patio/plaza. The mixed-use building on the Mulberry Street side of the development will now have commercial space on the fourth floor as well as the third and second. This means that the building will only have 11 residential units – four large apartments or condos on the sixth floor, plus three spacious units and four smaller ones on the fifth.

The largest building on the main street side of the block will offer 96 apartments spread over the second to sixth floors – mostly one-bedroom units with a scattering of studios and two-bedroom apartments – with retail space along of Second Street.

The number of apartments in the larger building is up from 89 last fall, and it appears the additional units have come at the expense of some of the high-end amenities of the original plan, such as a swimming pool and an indoor “dog walk”. No information on monthly rent levels was provided in documents filed with the city in anticipation of Planning Commission action later this month.

If the planning commission recommends approval, the city council could follow suit in early July.

The developers have an ambitious construction schedule, given the size of the project – which would be the largest residential development in downtown Mankato.

“The project is expected to begin soon with an expected completion date of fall 2023,” DeBates said.

As evidence of the project’s imminent start, a detour plan was proposed to the city that would primarily close Second Street between Mulberry and Main to make way for construction. Under the proposal, through traffic on Second would be diverted to Riverfront at Plum and Main streets. The only traffic that would continue to be permitted on Second Street in the construction zone would be vehicles exiting the Veterans Memorial Bridge on the north side of Mankato of the Minnesota River and turning right onto Second heading toward downtown Mankato.

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