Mahtomedi OKs apartments at site of ‘Fargo’-famous Lakeside Club

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The Mahtomedi City Council on Tuesday night voted 3-2 to approve plans for a three-story apartment complex on the site of the former Lakeside Club, which was featured in the movie “Fargo.”

The council’s vote followed more than two hours of discussion and public comments on Hearth Development’s plans for the site at 10 Old Wildwood Road. Mayor Jud Marshall and council members Richard Brainerd and Luke Schlegel voted yes, while council members Lilly Melander and Jane Schneeweis voted no.

Plans call for the vacant building, which was shuttered in 2020, to be torn down, and a three-story market-rate apartment complex to be built on the 4-acre site. Among the amenities planned: a community room, outdoor patio, rooftop patio and fitness center.

Residents who live near the site have protested the plans, contending that the proposed 39-unit development would radically alter the character of their residential neighborhood, which features mature trees and single-family houses set back from the road.

In addition to site-plan approval, the council voted to approve a variance from the maximum-height requirement of the city’s shoreland overlay district and variances to allow for setback deviations.

Melander, one of the “no” votes, said she appreciated Hearth Developers’ work to make modifications and she supports high density family projects but “could not, in good will, support last night’s proposal for a variance. The public could not support it, but in the end, sadly, the council did.  A city should not allow a variance based off of a financial hardship described by the developer.”

Hearth officials came to the city in February with plans for a 41-unit complex and a pitched roof that was 47 feet high. The planning commission voted 6-1 to recommend denial of the project.

The developer then changed its plans, reducing the number of units to 39 and switching to a flat roof that reduces the overall height to 34 feet, 5 inches. They also lowered the southeast portion of the building from three stories to two stories in order to reduce the visual impact of the structure from Lincolntown Avenue. The planning commission voted 4-3 on June 1 to recommend approval of the project.

Kelly McShane, who lives near the site, said he and other Lakeside neighbors would have “obviously preferred a smaller development with fewer variances. While we didn’t get the perfect outcome, we got a greatly improved outcome based on thoughtful collaboration between neighbors and the city.”

The Lakeside Club, a former supper club, is a Mahtomedi landmark that was featured in the movie “Fargo.”

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