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Proposed France Avenue project in Edina has another new look

August 3, 2018

Architects say the key feature to their most recent residential plan for a much talked about Edina corner will be a pedestrian-friendly promenade.

Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture has submitted its fourth and what it hopes to be its final version of an apartment and townhouse complex it has proposed to be built on the corner of France Avenue and Gallagher Drive in Edina across the street from the Centennial Shops retail center.

The plan is to replace an aging parking ramp and a couple of office buildings with two separate 6-story complexes that would have a mix of apartments, townhouses for sale and for rent as well as retail space.

We sort of have to create our own neighborhood, said Dean Dovolis, principal at DJR Architecture.

Since last year, DJR has presented several design plans to city planners with the most ambitious version including a bike bridge that spanned France Avenue and connected two residential towers. Architects have gotten pushback on everything from the projects previously proposed height to the complexs facade.

The most recent version of the plans that were reviewed in February only involved the property at 7250 France Av., but the City Council expressed it wanted the property and the parcel at 7200 France Av. immediately north to be developed together.

The latest development plan would involve both 7250 and 7200 France Av. The first is owned by developer Blake Bonjean and the latter by an entity led by Minneapolis developer Jim Eischens.

The 7200 property would include a U-shaped building with 150 apartments and 14 townhouses for rent, said Eli Zmira, the project manager for DJR. Directly to the west on the other side of a shared vehicle and pedestrian promenade would be 10 for-sale, stand-alone townhouses.

The 7250 property would have 126 apartments and nine townhouses for rent.

Close to 30,000 square feet of retail space would be included on the first floor set back from France Avenue that would allow for trees and seating.

There would be two levels of underground parking under both buildings as well as several elevated courtyards throughout the complex.

Possibly the most distinguishing feature would be the promenade stretching the block from 72nd Street to Gallagher Drive. It would have space for vehicles and pedestrians and act as a small park with trees, public seating and other meeting areas, Dovolis said.

It has a defined public element to it, he said.

The Dutch concept of the woonerf or living street is the pride of this project, Zmira said.

Its a nice feeling that fits that neighborhood, he said.

The development team submitted the projects sketch plan to the city on Monday. It hopes to present the project at the Aug. 15 city planning commission meeting.

DJR is also busy with another Edina residential project involving Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate at the site of the citys former public works facility.

Nicole Norfleet 612-673-4495 Twitter: @nicolenorfleet

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