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Developing Stories: A Primer on Building Height Restrictions

May 11, 2015
Attorney at Law Magazine - Twin Cities Edition
Author: Phil Kaplan

With all the new construction in Minneapolis, building heights have been hot topics of conversation lately.  Two recent newsmakers come to mind.

Developer Alex Duval raised eyebrows in December 2014 when he proposed to build an 80-story skyscraper on the former Nicollet Hotel block in downtown Minneapolis.  The building would have eclipsed the current tallest building in Minnesota - the IDS Center - by 23 stories.

The City of Minneapolis rejected Duval’s proposal in January 2015, but it will not be long before another developer takes a shot at the IDS Center’s 43-year reign atop the Minneapolis skyline.
Developer Mark Dwyer also made headlines due to his long battle over the height of a proposed condominium/retail building in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis. Dwyer
received preliminary approval to build five stories in February 2012. But political opposition,legal restrictions and economic constraints caused him to revise the height of his planned
building twice – from five stories to three stories to four stories – before he finally scrapped the project altogether in February 2015. 

Whether erecting a tower in downtown Minneapolis or building a condominium in a quiet residential neighborhood, every developer that reaches for the sky(line) faces myriad potential legal, political, practical and financial hurdles. The last thing an ambitious developer needs is to get tripped up on a legal technicality. Before starting a project, a developer should have a basic understanding of the applicable height restrictions
and the legal process for exceeding them.  Read more.