Podcast #22 – Debating Dinkytown Density with Chris Meyer

A surface parking lot in Dinkytown.

A surface parking lot in Dinkytown.

This podcast this week is a conversation with Chris Meyer, a former University of Minnesota student, Dinkytown resident, and member of the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood board. Chris is one of the people working on a solution for problems surrounding density and parking tensions in Dinkytown, the mixed-use neighborhood right on the edge of the large University campus. All the recent development proposals for the area have generated debate over how to properly encourage and limit the right kind of development for this unique part of the city.

I sat down with him this week in a nook in the back of the Kitty Cat Klub, one of dinkytown’s hot spots. Our conversation covered the latest theories about parking economics, the city’s policy on residential parking minimums, and how best to bridge the divide between town and gown, students and older residents in Minneapolis. I had a pretty bad cold when I taped this. I’m feeling better now, but at the time was sniffling like a strawberry shake a Annie’s parlor. So, my apologies. I hope you enjoy this excellent conversation.

The link to the audio is here. You can subscribe to the whole mess in iTunes.

2 thoughts on “Podcast #22 – Debating Dinkytown Density with Chris Meyer

  1. Alex CecchiniAlex

    Couple thoughts after listening to the podcast:

    1) No cars – I agree that this is a “pie-in-the-sky” type goal, but disagree that it would have positive outcomes. Vibrant street life doesn’t come from zero cars present. There are many people who live in Dinkytown that have jobs elsewhere. Students with internships NOT on campus or downtown would find it very difficult to get there. Adults who simply live there. People come in to campus and D-town for a variety of reasons. Food, Nightlife (Varsity), entertainment (20 men’s basketball, 20 men’s hockey, 7 football games a year, events at Northrup), dropping off or picking up students from campus for the weekend or term breaks, etc etc. These people not only come from places outside the neighborhood, they need to drive somewhere and also park somewhere. Having a healthy mix of true market priced parking (both on-street and underground) not only allows them to do this but it helps support some of those businesses that would otherwise fail even with a fully-built out Dinkytown population. Just as the streets shouldn’t be given exclusive rights to cars, they should not be the exclusive right of pedestrians and bikers alone. We cannot envision a world WITHOUT cars, only one where car trips and distances are greatly minimized.

    2) Market price of housing in the area.. I don’t disagree there has been an increase in demand for housing near campus as the U has shifted its policies and image away from a commuter campus and toward one where people live near (or on) campus. But to say that it follows simple economics of increased supply reducing price is a bit ludicrous. We’re talking about giant apartment buildings with hundreds of units each renting from $700-1,200 (depending on bedrooms per unit). If the demand was there prior to these apartments going in, why have older apartments (70s-era) with 1-2 BR units, houses near campus, etc traditionally had prices of $300-750 per BR (depending on BR per unit)? I understand quality of unit, size of unit, proximity to campus, and other factors are at play, but not to the tune of hundreds of dollars difference. I’m not saying increasing housing stock is a BAD thing for the area, merely that students demanding low rents will not see if when these places demolish existing homes/apartments and replace them with more expensive places. Example – I paid $315 for a bedroom at 701 15th Ave, 5 blocks from campus, then $395 in a 3 BR apartment behind Marcy Park Apartments (which charged double despite being in almost the exact same location). One reason for this? Local landlords for apartments aren’t part of large development companies that require high ROIs and pay out to shareholders. Supply-side pricing at its finest.

    Otherwise, good stuff. I’d really like to see the U, Minneapolis, and Hennepin County double down on pedestrian-oriented spaces and make a big example with the U. Transform 4th/University from the high-speed corridors they currently are to places people feel comfortable walking, biking, and living in.

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