The Green Way 

A strong core of Minneapolis residents has long favored urban dwelling, but a deterrent to some in the city’s Uptown neighborhood was a railroad–industrial corridor dating from the 1880s. As rail lines ceased to operate, Hennepin County purchased land to transform the corridor into the 5.5-mile Midtown Greenway for biking, walking, and, eventually, a transit system. To bring high-density residences to the area, the local community development agency put out an RFP. 

Patience Rewarded 

When developer Ross Fefercorn, president and owner of RMF Group in Minneapolis, submitted his RFP for a 2.7-acre site in 2002–03, he envisioned clusters of nine-unit condo townhouses fronting the Greenway, naming the project Track 29 as a nod to its railroad past. He remediated the land and began work on the condos in 2005. But, then, the recession hit and he turned to rentals, instead, partnering with Loren Brueggemann of locally based Phoenix Development Co.

Revised Blueprint 

Fefercorn and architect Gaius Nelson of Nelson-Tremaine in Minneapolis drew up plans for two low-rise, contemporary apartment buildings connected by a glass-enclosed lobby. For visual effect, the structures were built at four and six stories and linked with a walkway that mimics the city’s ubiquitous closed skyways. The buildings are sheathed in a renewable African wood that acts as a rain screen. Other green features include on-site stormwater management and sustainable landscaping. 

Chick Fit

Though Fefercorn expected a mix of demographics, he projected the majority of Track 29’s tenants would be young professional women seeking an active yet quiet, nonparty ambience. To appeal to them, he added a long list of amenities, including a gym, a Zen garden with waterfall, a tea bar, and an art gallery. The space also includes safe indoor parking, bicycle storage, and outside bike racks fashioned from railroad tracks. Pops of color in a light palette differentiate the floors.

Public Teamwork

Track 29’s mostly one- and two-bedroom units range from 572 to 1,493 square feet. Ninety-five percent have been leased since the property’s completion last August, and 20 of the 27 condos at adjacent Track 29 Lofts have been sold. Onetime council member Lisa McDonald attributes the area’s enhanced status to the city and county working together. “They didn’t give a direct subsidy but created a framework to boost green space, which leads to investment and building,” she says.