Residents petition for review of Zvago project

A group of St. Anthony Park residents filed a 171-signature petition to the Minnesota Water Quality Board, urging a closer look at the potential impact of Zvago, the 49-unit co-op planned to be built in the hillside at Luther Place on former Luther Seminary property.

The petition is requesting an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, which would trigger “a more careful analysis of the impact of the Ecumen project on the site, focused on issues of permanent and irreversible damage to and destruction of natural, historic and archaeological resources,” St. Anthony Park resident Kristin Anderson said in an email.

Anderson, president of the board of directors of the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, submitted the petition to the Water Quality Board on behalf of the signers. The project is also currently being reviewed under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, a requirement as the developer plans to use federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) financing and the development will sit next to two sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Bockman Hall, built in 1902, and the Old Muskego Church, built in 1844.

The petition also addresses the three houses, all built in the early 20th century, which will be demolished for the project. The houses and surrounding landscape features have been identified as contributing resources to a potential historic district “because they reflect the seminary’s early development and expansion to become the largest theological training institution for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” the petition states.

Plans for the senior housing co-op include 49 one- or two-bedroom units, ranging from 952 to 1,953 square feet. The three-story building will include underground and surface parking. The project was first introduced in September 2015 as a 60-unit co-op at the corner of Como Avenue and Luther Place. Neighborhood opposition resulted in a revised site plan that moved the building to the property just behind the current parking lot.

The public comment period for HUD’s Section 106 review will close Friday, Sept. 30. Find out more at portal.hud.gov. Click on “State Info” at the top menu, then click on “Minnesota.” Information about the Zvago review is in the lower right-hand side of the page.

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