Luigi Bernardi and Ryan Cos. US Inc. still searching for a site to do their Estelle project – Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

The 39-story condo tower that Luigi Bernardi and Ryan Cos. US Inc. plan to build in Minneapolis looks a bit like a singular version of the Estelle towers they tried to develop in Edina last year.

But “The Eleven” isn’t Estelle, Bernardi said.

“We are still looking for another site for Estelle as we speak,” Bernardi said in an interview.

Ryan and Bernardi’s company, Edina-based Arcadi LLC, had pitched towers of 20 and 24 stories at the corner of 69th Street and France Avenue last year, only to be rejected by the Edina City Council.

At the time, Bernardi told Finance & Commerce he was going to take his plans somewhere else. When he bought the River Parkway Place office building in the Mill District, the logical assumption was he would build Estelle next to the six-story office building.

“We couldn’t fit Estelle on the site,” he said. “Estelle is a two-tower proposal.”

While the projects both showed masonry facades, they have different architects. Ryan designed Estelle, while New York-based Robert A.M. Stern Architects is designing The Eleven.

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An aerial rendering of Ryan’s twin condo towers planned at 69th and France Avenue. The taller of the two is just eight feet shorter than the Foshay Tower in Minneapolis.

Bernardi said Estelle could “possibly” still be built in Edina. The city is updating its comprehensive plan, which could be adopted a year from now and might allow for denser and taller projects.

While the River Parkway site doesn’t fit Estelle, it does have some amazing views, Bernardi said.

“When I bought River Parkway Place, we were doing our due diligence and we walked up to the roof and we were amazed at the views,” he said. “That’s a six-story building and the views are amazing — the river, the Stone Arch Bridge, the park and the downtown skyline. That’s what spurred it.”

After that, Bernardi studied the condo market, talked to housing experts and chatted with real estate agents who told him there’s a shortage of condos on the downtown market. Only the late Jim Stanton has developed condos downtown since the recession, with his last project, the 374-unit Legacy, scheduled for completion this year. Alatus LLC is also planning a 40-story condo tower across the river.

The Minnesota Legislature passed new laws last year making it tougher for condo associations to sue developers.

“The legislation made it a little less risky for developers to build condos — that pushed us to do something,” Bernardi said. “There are a lot of people who would like to buy condos. In fact, they are renting now in downtown while they wait for something to come on board.”

Bernardi doesn’t yet have a cost estimate for the 101-unit tower. Estelle, which was to be 173 units, was estimated to cost $250 million.

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