Minnesota passes Historic Resources Equity Act

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Rendering of potential future downtown Minneapolis.

ST. PAUL — Flanked by grinning legislators from both parties, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the Historic Resources Equity Act into law late Monday. The controversial legislation mandates the relocation of historic resources to balance their distribution between the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Effectively, the law means that buildings will need to be moved from St. Paul to Minneapolis.

The press conference capped a marathon two weeks of debate about property rights, the cost of physically dismantling the St. Paul Hotel and moving it on flatbed trucks to Downtown Minneapolis, and regional equity. “Minneapolis has gotten the short end of the heritage stick for too long,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Dave Boone, a supporter of the bill. “This legislation will go a long way towards evening that out.”

Citing the “clear disparity in authentic, historic urban fabric” between the two cities, Minneapolitans For Evening It Out (MFEIO) was formed in mid-2013. MFEIO (pronounced “m’FEE-oh”) was initially a grassroots coalition of individuals and groups impacted by particularly bleak stretches of urban renewed Minneapolis, including Downtown East and that giant mess on the northwest side of Lake Calhoun. However, after the group was characterized as “insecure” by St. Paul Mayor Randy Bush at a fall fundraiser, it quickly expanded and picked up political support from Minneapolis politicians and, surprisingly, outstate Republicans who probably didn’t have any ulterior motives.

Critics, including Bush, claim that the conditions in the two cities reflect different approaches to growth and change over decades. “Minneapolis made a conscious decision to demolish the buildings it had,” he said when reached for comment ahead of the vote. “It’s not St. Paul’s or the East Metro’s job to compensate for that.” However, that argument proved unconvincing at the legislature–even when presented with a last minute compromise where St. Paul could have added new strip malls in lieu of giving up buildings.

“It’s just not fair that St. Paul has things that Minneapolis doesn’t have,” repeated Councilmember Boone from MFEIO headquarters, a late 90s Winnebago in the parking lot of the Lake Street K-Mart. “St. Paul had a ten year head start on us–of course they’re going to have more historic structures, and I can’t think of any large scale demolitions in Minneapolis that can account for the difference.”

The bill includes a “social” mechanism for Minneapolitans choosing which resources they’d like to reallocate, with votes being tabulated on Facebook. Early favorites include the Landmark Center, the James J. Hill House, and the feeling you get drinking hot chocolate after ice skating in Rice Park the Sunday evening before Christmas.

Relocation operations, largely subsidized through an Anoka County sales tax, are slated to begin August 1.

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8 Responses to Minnesota passes Historic Resources Equity Act

  1. Joseph Totten
    Joseph Totten April 1, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    We are really lovin’ Saint Paul today.

  2. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell April 1, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    Save Our Buildings sit ins will be held today at four historic buildings in St Paul’s historic Cathedral Hill. Starting at Nina’s through the morning, moving down to the Happy Gnome for the afternoon, a brief interlude at The Cheeky Monkey, and then those sober enough to walk will then spend the evening at The Muddy Pig.

    Getting in on the movement, old SOB Gov Dayton announced that to protect a shining example of mid 20th century architectural history in downtown St Paul that he will be opening a medical marijuana emporium in the building. He noted that that lack of windows should be attractive to merchants. Others pointed out however that the complete lack of connectivity to the street might make some buyers and sellers uncomfortable due to the unfamiliar surroundings. Dayton also noted that to save money he’ll name the emporium after himself, because, he giggled, the letters are still stored away in the basement just waiting for this great revival.

    The new Dayton’s is expected to open exactly one year from today.

    Also of note, those attending the sit ins will also be casting ballots for these establishments and streets.mn in the City Pages Readers Poll.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 1, 2014 at 9:19 am #

      Edit: The word ‘member’ should have been inserted between SOB and Gov. Oops. Happy April 1st.

  3. Adam Miller
    Adam April 1, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Finally, preservation policy that makes sense!

  4. Matty Lang
    Matty Lang April 1, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    Man, those street trees also look very out of place in Minneapolis.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

      yeah, they’ll have to be cut down according to the newly adopted Bloomington Ped plan guidelines.

  5. cl April 2, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    Finally we cab get theses buildings hooked up to the skyway. And it’s been a loooong time coming for a blow dry bar in the hotels’ lobby.

  6. Andrew April 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    There is some precedent for moving historic hotels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oNEeULPs_Q

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