MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Plans for a high-rise in northeast Minneapolis took a step forward this week, but not everyone is happy. The apartment tower would go up where Nye’s Polonaise Room is located, after it closes this summer.

The Neighborhood Association approved the plans Wednesday night with overwhelming support, but the new construction could have a big impact on an old church.

The call to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church has rang loud and clear for more than 160 years. Built in the 1850s, the historic frame is showing its age. But there’s real concern time isn’t the biggest threat.

“It’s important to us to say we’re opposed to the design of this particular project,” Deacon Thom Winninger said.

Winninger is worried about plans to build a 29 story apartment building next door once Nye’s Polonaise shuts down this summer. The close proximity to the church property is one thing, but the real worry is construction’s impact on the building’s integrity.

“Its physical structure is going to be threatened by this development,” Winninger said.

Years ago, construction of the River Place project forced the addition of metal reinforcements for the old sandstone blocks.

“As they drill and hammer to get the bedrock, will this not continue to happen?” Winninger wondered. “How do we reinforce the top of this building?”

Still, the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association approved the plans this week.

“It’s a property that’s close to downtown that’s mostly an empty lot and I think it’s going to be developed,” Association Vice President Barry Clegg said.

Clegg thinks the project encompasses the vision to bring in high density developments that allow street views and preserves historic property. Part of the Nye’s building will be incorporated into the design.

“It brings mixed use retail and residential, all of which are our goals,” Clegg said.

In a neighborhood that features a mix of old and new, where to build remains a divisive debate.

“When a big building goes up across the street from you, it’s always going to be opposed by some and supported by others,” Clegg said.

Since the new development involves historic buildings, the Heritage Preservation Commission will have to approve the project… as well as the city council.

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