MINNEAPOLIS-The 56-unit West River Commons at the foot of the Lake Street Bridge and just across the Mississippi River from St. Paul joins a trend started years ago in smaller multifamily rental buildings and now seen in bigger complexes across the country in cities like Boston and Los Angeles.

When it opens next month, it will be completely smoke-free — not only in hallways and lobbies, but also within the walls of the tenants’ residences. The complex, which burned during construction last year after being struck by lightning, is more than 50% leased with a month of construction still ahead.

Gateway Real Estate L.L.C developed the $11.5-million project. The project includes about one-fifth affordable apartments.

As cities throughout the metropolitan area weigh smoking bans in bars and restaurants, the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota is making the rounds to landlords promoting the idea for apartment buildings. Anti-smoking advocates have created a Web registry of smoke-free complexes, www.smokefreeapartments.org, in cities across the country, including Minneapolis. For instance, the board of the 38-unit Produce Exchange building in Downtown St. Paul, managed by Halverson and Blaiser Group Ltd., is considering a ban.

Complaints about smoking neighbors, smoke seeping through shared ventilations systems or open windows have become commonplace. So are the costs of cleaning the apartments of smokers. Such considerations played into the decision to make West River Commons smoke-free.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota chapter of Fight Ordinances & Restrictions to Control & Eliminate Smoking opposes the trend, arguing it discriminates against smokers based on inadequate evidence on the dangers of secondhand smoke.

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