Frank-Lyn: A Wedge in The Wedge

frank-lyn corner

The disputed territory of Franklin & Lyndale.

I attended a Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association meeting about 7 weeks ago (cancel the BREAKING NEWS alert). There was one topic: a new mixed-use development for the corner of Franklin and Lyndale. I went in with a point of view, but an open mind regarding the opinions of my neighbors–of whom I generally have high regard. A project of the proposed scope and purpose, on the most unpleasant corner in the neighborhood seems, to me, the farthest thing from controversial.

We should discuss refining the proposal; let’s make it better; and let’s protect neighboring properties from construction damage. Those issues are easily resolved. But, listening to the opposition, it seems their primary concern is shutting the door on new residents–whether that means killing the project entirely, or knocking a few floors off the top. They are, simply, anti-growth.

The majority at the meeting–a fraction, of a fraction, of the neighborhood itself–were loud and angry in their opposition to everything (first rule of politics: angry people show up for meetings). Of course, there are issues about which we may legitimately be loud and angry. If a politician or developer is on the receiving end of a rude shout once in a while, that’s politics (the opposite of beanbag, they tell me).

Alarmingly, the us vs. them posture wasn’t just aimed at the developer. It was directed, in part, at people like me. A pro-development comment from a younger guy was met by a gray-haired man with an accusation of renter! An innocent reference to an apartment building by the developer was showered with an agitated chorus of It’s a condo! The new buildings by the Midtown Greenway were inexplicably referred to as disastrous housing projects (Really? Like, Cabrini-Green… ?).

I can take a hint–for this particular cohort, I’m a second-class citizen. I live in a building with lots of other people, and I’m not currently paying down a massive bank loan. But, let me assure you, this doesn’t mean the Bloods and Crips are selling drugs in my hallway.

As I said, this was my first neighborhood meeting, so the tenor of the room reinforced an already strong inclination to hold my tongue and observe. But let me tell you what I would have said if I’d had the guts, the eloquence, and a filibuster’s worth of floor time to say it.


The Wedge stands to lose this building and the adjacent parking lot–while gaining some residents and commercial space.

I’m a Renter

Renters are a super (duper) majority in Lowry Hill East, and in most surrounding neighborhoods. As of the 2010 census they were 80% of households, and that number has surely grown as a result of construction along the Midtown Greenway. Renters don’t show up to meetings, and are therefore not represented by neighborhood groups. Perhaps because of that under-representation, renters have become a scapegoat for everything that a previous generation of residents hates about their neighborhood. Listening to the barely-contained fury of some longtime residents in that school library, I wondered, Knowing this neighborhood as it is today, would they choose to live here?


Breakdown by household type of census tract 1067 roughly corresponding to Lowry Hill East. The portion of LHE along Greenway–which has even greater share of renters–is not included.

I’m a renter. I didn’t end up here by chance–I chose my neighborhood for a reason. I walk, I bike, I take the bus–exclusively–snow or shine. When the sidewalks are paved with ice, I’m still walking for groceries. When the streets are blocked by wind-toppled trees, I’m still biking downtown. And when the stops are covered in snow piles, I’m still busing. I chose this neighborhood because it provides the amenities that suit my lifestyle. And that’s a big reason why people will continue to choose this neighborhood.

I’m not hogging the roads or the publicly funded street parking. When I patronize a local business, I take the sidewalk. I don’t stumble loudly home from a bar at 2 am. I’m not destroying the neighborhood culture because I live in a building that’s marginally taller than the house next door. Most importantly, I’m quite fond of my neighbors; this is a great place to live and they’re a big part of that.

To my neighbors who are skeptical of development; longtime residents; the mortgage-payers and the renters: consider for a moment that the new and future residents of Lowry Hill East might look more like me than yourselves. There goes the neighborhood, right? I’m sure the differences between us aren’t so large that both sides can’t hope for a similarly high quality of life. Which is why it’s so hard for me to fathom the fear and anger I saw at that meeting.

For a fuller look at the parade of unfathomables, tune in tomorrow for Frank-Lyn II: Electric Boogaloo.

52 thoughts on “Frank-Lyn: A Wedge in The Wedge

  1. David

    I was at the same meeting and your assessment is way off. I heard no anti renter sentiment, who hasn’t rented at one point or another? The concern was about the mass of the building, the scale is massively out of step with what is around it, driven largely by the excess parking included in it…way beyond the needs of the building, to the point that the silver tongued developer claimed parking revenue would “subsidize” the apartment rents (highly unlikely). I didn’t hear anyone oppose development, they opposed the scale of this one, slandering other stakeholders is not helpful.

    1. Scott ShafferScott Shaffer

      I was at this meeting, and I heard a neighbor belligerently interrupt another neighbor, saying, “Are you a renter?!” It intimidated me from speaking, along with the gym-owner standing next to me who was red-faced and swearing.

      But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a video (I didn’t take it) of part of the meeting:

      [Speaking of the Wedge] “. . . That’s already dense. I don’t think you need more density. We need to do the right things with the density that we have to maintain safety, quality of life, and standard of living. We don’t need to say, ‘Oh we have to bring more people here,’ we don’t need to bring more people into our neighborhood. We already have that. [applause] It is not up to us to provide homes for people who want to move into our neighborhood because there are other choices out there. That is not our job. Our job is to keep our neighborhood a livable, quality place, to preserve its historic character, and to just maintain.”

    2. John EdwardsJohn Edwards Post author

      Thanks for the slander accusation. I’ll do you the courtesy of assuming we weren’t at the same meeting, or you were out of earshot, or you’re mis-remembering because you’re desensitized to the experience after attending so many meetings. I wrote all these things down at the time because it was such a weird experience for me. I had no idea what I was walking into. I was the least militant person at that meeting on either side. So consider me radicalized by the experience.

      Still, I hope you’ll come back for part 2.

        1. John EdwardsJohn Edwards Post author

          These comments were pretty excellent. Even the liberal poet downstream, who I imagine I could agree with on most things. Oscar.

          I thought slander-guy was a different David. So my apologies to the other David for slandering him in my my mind. And to the original David: Stop being such a lying slanderer in my comments!

  2. Michael RodenMichael Roden

    That same sentiment can be found in Nicole Curtis’ vigil speech. “I don’t need another apartment complex here.” The truth is, if not here then where? This is an ideal place for Minneapolis to grow and it can be done in a way that every party involved benefits. That said, living in a city means living in a constant state of change. A city that stays the same is a city that is in decline.

    1. Adam MillerAdam

      I have more sympathy for objections to replacing what was built as a single family home and what still has the profile of a (quite large) single family home than I do to objections to replacing an ugly surface parking.

      As to Franklin/Lyndale it really is an example of if not here, then where? There’s nothing of note on the spot. It’s at a major intersection. It’s transit and bike connected. The location is currently a dead spot in an otherwise vibrant neighborhood. It should be a no brainer.

      Its nice that some neighborhood residents like their neighborhood and would like to keep other people out. We should ignore them.

  3. Janne

    I think that another reason for the vilification of renters is a concerted national mythologizing of homeowners as Good and renters as Bad. This blog post talks about the Realtors’ role in that.

    The American Dream, and massive subsidies like the mortgage interest tax deductions, plus some historical economic trends helped. Don’t forget lots of research that showed good outcomes for homeowner families and their kids compared to renter families and their kids — but research which didn’t control for “stability” and “mobility,” and therefore probably mis-attributed outcomes to ownership when they should have been attributed to stability.

    Thankfully, recent media attention has highlighted long-familiar nuances about mobility, choice, hidden costs of homeownership (e.g. maintenance and unemployment), and how rental housing contributes to vibrant economies.

    What I can never wrap my head around is why, when nearly everyone has spent at least a few years as a renter, once many people become homeowners they get selective amnesia about their own (or their kids’) rental histories.

    In defense of David, I’ve been to many neighborhood meetings where people expressly insulted renters, but had no memory of it afterward. It’s so ingrained and accepted in our culture, often people don’t notice it when it happens. Like lots of other ‘isms. Tenureism?

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

      Not to politicize this issue, but here are two historical examples. The point is that differences between renters and home owners have long been viewed in moral terms, rather than a simple matter of convenience and flexibility…

      Herbert Hoover, 1925: “Maintaining a high percentage of individual home owners is one of the searching tests that now challenge the people of the United States. The present large proportion of families that own their own homes is both the foundation of a sound economic and social system and a guarantee that our society will continue to develop rationally as changing conditions demand.”

      The idea here was that home owners were easier to control, wouldn’t go on strike, and were better consumer-citizens.

      Here’s another quote from geographer David Harvey on the same subject:

      SPIEGEL ONLINE: The subprime crisis in the United States arose precisely out of the attempt to incorporate the lower classes into home-ownership. Reckless financial products were created so that even the poorest could obtain loans.

      Harvey : Give credit! — This battle cry pushed through the neoliberal agenda. But that’s nothing new. During the McCarthy Era after World War II, the ruling classes already recognized that home ownership plays an important role in preventing social unrest. On the one hand, left-wing activities were combated as un-American. On the other, building was promoted with financial and mortgage reforms. In the 1940s, the proportion of owner-occupied homes in the United States was still under 40 percent. In the 1960s, it was already at 65 percent. And during the last real estate boom in the 2000s, it was 70 percent. In the discussions about mortgage reforms at the end of the 1930s, a key sentence was: “Indebted homeowners don’t go on strike.”

  4. Obvious Oscar

    Yikes, that’s pretty bad. Anti-renter sentiment from homeowners–next to which elitist pro-development types look like populist underdogs–makes anti-gentrification, pro-equity types like me look bad. If only those new buildings along the Greenway *were* public housing project! Instead they are the beachheads for the coming colonization of the Wedge by suburbanites and YoPros–to the detriment of its low-income renters. Too bad these homeowners have nothing but a wildly distorted understanding of why they oppose development.

      1. Obvious Oscar

        More affordable housing, more *public* housing, I don’t know, maybe even rent controls? I’m even supportive of building higher-end housing in emptier spaces, rather than in the middle of soon-to-be-palatable-to-the-elite -type established neighborhoods.

        Better yet: a larger-scale redistribution of wealth to prevent, or at least dampen, the drastic and worsening inequality in society-at-large that’s currently driving the one-sided redevelopment of American cities?

        Honestly, I, too, am of the shitty “I don’t have all the answers” camp. I troll these forums because I think first and foremost the circle needs to acknowledge that a) supply for affordable housing is not being met, and it’s getting worse, especially relative to supply for luxury or “market-rate” housing; b) self-described “urbanists” have a systematic, if perhaps inadvertent, tendency to end up parroting and cheering on the current trends in development, current trends that are NOT conducive to equity (unless you really think marginally safer-designed sidewalks in increasingly expensive neighborhoods count as “equity”); and c) self-described “urbanists” are a privileged bunch, not remotely representative of the broader community and its desires, and just because they let the private sector dictate the redevelopment of cities rather than governments doesn’t make them especially different from the top-down planners of the “urban renewal” era that they claim to oppose.

        Etc., etc. We could probably argue about it all day.

        1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

          OK, for sure. Two thoughts:

          What do you think of the argument that Minneapolis and Saint Paul proper already have the lion’s share of affordable housing in the Metro? This is something that Myron Orfield has been saying recently:

          Even as demand for affordable housing is surging in the suburbs, too many units are built in poor neighborhoods in the core cities, law professor Myron Orfield said. That approach to housing policy is counterproductive, he said. “It deprives families the opportunity to go to low-poverty, high-performing schools, if you build it all in very poor neighborhoods,” Orfield said. “And it makes places like Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are already very racially segregated, over time more and more likely to house a larger percentage of the region’s poor population.”

          See or

          Second, what do you think about statements like Gil Penalosa’s recent claim that…

          “The measure of a great city is how it treats its most vulnerable residents, the young, the old and the poor,” Penalosa says. […] As to improving life for those who are struggling economically, Penalosa recommends: “There is nothing that government could do that would have a higher impact on middle-class families than to enable them to switch from two cars to one, and for poor families to switch from one to none.” In a region like Minneapolis-St. Paul, he says, two-car suburban families typically spend 27 percent of their income on transportation.

          Housing is just one of part of the economic opportunity picture. Transportation is really important, too.

        2. Michael RodenMichael Roden

          I’m the sort of person that thinks the government should be doing way more than it is now because a lot of things come down to who you distrust less: someone that was elected, or someone that stands to profit. That said, governments change every two years. I would rather have strong, organically grown (in the economic sense) neighborhoods that serve as many diverse needs as possible without depending on a steady stream of support from the government. I feel this way for the same reason I am pulling for street cars rather than “improved bus service”: it’s a lot harder to yank the funding from something that is planted in the ground.

        3. Janne

          My work is generally in “affordable housing,” and while there are many people who would love to build more affordable housing (also in highly desirable Minneapolis neighborhoods like Lowry Hill and Linden Hills), the public funding needed to do so isn’t available.

          Plus, there are always people whose incomes fall “in the cracks,” for example making just above 50% of Area Median Income and so are ineligible for a particular unit, but who don’t make enough to afford a unit on the open market.

          Without a 10-fold(20-fold?) increase in affordable housing funding, the next best idea I have is to expand supply (and eventually prices will drop when the market is saturated). In my heart, I think we need to do both.

          (Side note: Rent control makes things worse, especially in the long run.)

          But… you have strong opinions, so would you rather pony up loads more cash? Or facilitate the market in doing what it does (although not well)? Or… give me some ideas.

        4. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

          Couple responses:

          – Is rent control really a good idea? Hasn’t it been shown in study after study (by people across the political spectrum) to have an overall negative effect on housing quality, equity, supply, etc? Those who win the lottery fare ok (but may suffer unintended consequences from the mental desire to stay put when better job opportunities may come up), while prices everywhere else rise faster than they otherwise would.
          – To Bill’s points from Myron Orfield – is concentrating public housing where it will inevitably be built a good thing, necessarily? If a stronger mix of races and classes is desirable, isn’t it a better idea to allow this type of piece-meal development to go on in mixed-race/class areas?
          – “soon-to-be-palatable-to-the-elite” seems like a short-hand way of stating that the areas already are desirable to people of moderate wealth. Hence developers proposing the projects they do. People of all incomes desire to live in places like the Wedge – its convenience to downtown, shopping/grocery/cultural amenities, natural amenities, and ability to live car-lite to car-free make it extremely attractive. Not building luxury units here won’t make rich/elites all of a sudden forget they want to live in this neighborhood. They’ll drive up prices in the existing stock, which is more than likely worse than the effect of losing a few individual smaller buildings for hundreds of new units soaking up that demand.
          – What are the unintended consequences of forcing/steering development elsewhere? Eventual displacement of the people in those areas as well? Missing opportunities for the type of positive feedback loop Uptown is seeing (office spaces being built here instead of XXX suburb, employing more people with access to biking/transit).

          1. Janne

            I found this Vox card deck on affordable housing yesterday, after this comment thread. Overall, it’s great. And, there are a few that I think are especially relevant to this discussion.

            What is gentrification?

            In particular, that slide addresses the concern that people are displaced. It highlights that many urban neighborhoods — and the Wedge is a perfect example — have a lot of churning, so rather than people being displaced, mostly it’s that different people move in during the standard churn. Check out the (secondary) link to the research.

            I also find this one very compelling — talking about what happens to neighborhoods if you don’t address the supply. Basically, “even luxury projects help address housing scarcity. In a marketplace with no new luxury projects, rich people don’t forget that they enjoy fancy houses in appealing neighborhoods. They simply snap up older properties and renovate them (or house-flippers do it), thus blocking the process of filtering and taking middle-class residences off the market.”


            Not sure what filtering is?

  5. Todd Ferguson

    You know that old fable about the blind men encountering an elephant? I get this feeling that this is what happened at that LHENA meeting. I didn’t hear any negative comments where I was sitting, but as I’ve heard them described from several sources now I don’t doubt that it’s true. I will point out, though, that the fellow to whom the ire was directed had just made an utterly unproductive, sarcastic, dick comment. That doesn’t excuse the response. Also… the people making the ludicrous, xenophobic, obstructionist comments were *not* the same group who frequent the Healy & North Wedge Facebook pages. I don’t know who the hell those people were. Maybe they only come out for these meetings.

    I own my house in LHE. And I don’t want the house at 2320 Colfax to be torn down. May as well get that out of the way. So I guess technically I’m the enemy of most who frequent this forum. But here’s the thing: I think that the Lyndale-Franklin project would be the best thing that’s ever happened to a corner that’s been alternately dingy service station/bleak concrete lot for several generations now. Not exactly the ideal gateway to LHE. I’m also all for higher density, bikes and walking elsewhere in LHE, even if it involves the removal of some sub-standard older housing. I do wish that they were designing charging ports into the parking spaces in these new buildings, though. That’s going to be a lot more difficult and expensive after they’re built.

    My beef is with the tearing down of servicable houses, starting with that particular house. It’s a really freaking cool house & its condition is being repeatedly and intentionally misrepresented. That house is structurally more sound than my house. When tours are given people are always taken directly upstairs from the front hall. If they were taken into the rooms on the first floor they’d be surprised at what’s there. I’ve been there & seen it for myself.

    I can’t speak for anyone else. Some of the “preservationists” are in fact just as instinctively anti-development as characterized in these forums. Most of them, not so much. They all care about some parts of this issue more than others, no two to the same degree.

    I’m mostly chiming into all this because of Michael Crow’s post on the 29th, I think it was. I’d been vilifying him with so many others & that post stopped me in my tracks. It was one of the most well-reasoned and expressed pieces I’ve seen on here. He was suddenly a lot more human, real.

    It really sucks that this has all become so personal. It’s just too easy for both sides to keep firing for effect when there are no faces connected to the words we’re posting.

    So… yeah. That’s all. Let the trolling commence. I’m not likely to see it anyway.

    1. John EdwardsJohn Edwards Post author

      Really great comment. Even if we disagree on 2320. A pro-density preservationist? GTFO! And that doesn’t bother me. Totally an intellectually honest position to have. I think I share some of those values as well.

      What bothers me is the alliance between preservationists like Nicole Curtis and the anti-density people. I’m not sure how much of what they’re saying they really believe. Seems like it’s an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” kind of thing. The anti-apartment building tirade that Nicole Curtis went on really does damage to her cause–if her cause is preservation.

      So I guess what I’m saying is, before I went to the Frank-Lyn meeting, I could have easily been convinced by your argument on 2320 Colfax. But at this point, even though I respect your opinions and you seem like a sincere guy, my patience for it is spent.

      I completely agree about the comment from the younger guy at the meeting. But, the accusation of “renter!” was made before he made his goofy comment. So perhaps he was heckled into making a weird, unfunny joke. It wasn’t a productive sequence.

      The anger on the homeowner side has the potential to radicalize the renters in this neighborhood. Every time a renter decides to show up to their first development meeting, what’s the impression they’re left with? This wasn’t an issue that was even on my radar until recently. And now it’s a big deal to me.

      I think I have a lot more in common with the homeowners in this area than the renters. I appreciate the diversity homeowners bring to The Wedge. I want them to stick around. I’m not blowing smoke when I say that.

      Again, thanks for your comment. I hope you come back to read mine.

      1. Cadillac Kolstad

        Many preservation minded people support density. It is a great source of frustration that every time the issue of preservation is brought up the pro development side frames it in terms of density vs. preservation. These two projects at Franklin and Lyndale and at 2320 colfax are a question about adding around 60-70 units of housing to a neighborhood with thousands of units being built. It is not accurate to suggest this small number of units will have a meaningful impact on housing. It is accurate to say that these projects will have significant impact on people living around them, and the character of the neighborhood.

    2. Cadillac Kolstad

      I felt the same way after reading Mike Crows post on this site, then I read his document to the city and lost all sympathy. It was rude, degrading and misrepresented the situation, basically nasty. If anyone else wants to read it you can find it on the city website.

  6. Cadillac Kolstad

    “I chose this neighborhood because it provides the amenities that suit my lifestyle. And that’s a big reason why people will continue to choose this neighborhood.”
    In response:
    Do the lakes and bikeways have anything to do with your choice?
    There are many areas where the above lifestyle exist in minneapolis. At present the area near the lakes and bike paths is under a lot of pressure for development. Remember these belong to all people in the city. The lakes and bikeways add significant value to the surrounding area and are a publicly funded amenity. This should come into discussion when area development is planned. Developers benefit when building in this area from extensive long term public investment.
    The tone of the pro development folks strongly echoes the tone of pro suburban “Fordist” boosters of the old days. It’s strange how the goals have been reversed but many of the arguments are the same. The anti-history chants are the most compelling similarity. From my perspective it’s more consumerism but in the present case it’s all about consuming apartments. I think it would be a good idea to try and find some common ground and a middle way to add density while preserving character.

    1. John EdwardsJohn Edwards Post author

      I’m just going to limit my comments to the proposal on Franklin & Lyndale.

      First, I’m not aware of any criticisms that it would do harm to the lakes and bikeways.

      As far as “preserving character” goes–I wait for the bus on that corner all the time, and it’s inarguably the dumpiest dump of a crummy corner in the neighborhood. What does “preserving character” mean to you? I’m assuming it doesn’t mean shutting out new residents, because you implied you’re OK with increased density. Is it about preserving a view out your back window? The “character” argument seems like the worst one of all when it comes to Franklin & Lyndale.

      1. Cadillac Kolstad

        Not out my back window. Several businesses will be displaced by the development at f & l. My answer would be to build infill on the vacant lot and add on to the existing buildings. I do think the view is a legit gripe. Comparing a wall to greenery is not the same thing.
        And yes I’m a density felt a conflict between these 2 points of view. Both are possible in the same city. My feeling is the conflict is fomented by developers obfuscating the issue.
        I never said the project would hard the amenities. I said the amenities add to its desirability and profitability. This should be accounted for in the discussions.

        1. Cadillac Kolstad

          something happened with that post, should read:
          “and yes I’m a supporter of density and preservation and have never felt a conflict between the 2”

        2. John EdwardsJohn Edwards Post author

          Loss of a view is a legitimate personal gripe. But it’s not a legitimate reason to prevent development on that corner.

          The amenities will draw people in. Absent new supply, housing will become more expensive. I think keeping the area affordable is a worthy goal for the city that takes into account the area’s amenities and desirability.

          Why is it ok to build on the parking lot and not replace the building? Is this building special in some way? Are you ok with a 6 story building on just the parking lot?

          1. Cadillac Kolstad

            Several reasons to build on the parking lot and not demo the buildings. A core principle of “New Urbanism is a sense of place. The building as crappy as some may view it does give you a sense of place. Theater garage is a definite landmark. Also demolition is bad for the environments and has many externalized costs. Preserving views is also a principle of New Urbanism.
            I do not have an issue with tall buildings in principle. That corner does present complications due to the soils and other conditions. If we are going to block views maybe it should be more like 20 or 30 or 100 stories, and skinnier since that would be a more efficient land use.
            As far as housing near the lakes becoming more expensive I have mixed feelings. Maybe it should be more expensive to live near such amenities.
            Realistically if people who benefit from urban sprawl had to pay the full cost of that lifestyle city living would not seem so expensive!
            I object a lot more to commercial space being constrained which makes the cost go up for businesses, goods and services. Also created Job sprawl. This is a serious problem in Minneapolis right now!
            However the basic policies of the city do constrain housing through aggressive demolition, the “vacant building program” (keeps buildings empty), outdated occupancy laws, restrictive rules on most property in the city, and so on. Some landlord also keep places empty and have certain tax benefits from that.
            I just don’t buy the argument given overwhelming facts and evidence that the only way to prevent constraint of housing is to allow unchecked development. In fact the big developers present a form of constraint by homogenising dwelling options!

            Here are some quotes from a reputable publication. showing the skewed nature of the so called “low vacancy in minneapolis”

            Census: 15,000 vacant housing units in Minneapolis

            “By the year 2010, our vacancy rate in the city of Minneapolis had doubled from 2000 levels,” said Mike Christenson, director of the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED)

            the city has added 9,681 units of new housing since 2000, according to the census figures. At the same time, Minneapolis has about 8,500 more vacant housing units today than it did 10 years ago,

            that translates to a vacancy rate of 8.3 percent among all types of housing

            http ://


            I don’t object to any development on that corner but think it should be different than proposed. The rooftop park sounded cool and I don’t know why anyone would object to that. We should take better advantage of roof space in minneapolis, parks, patios and parking up on top of the buildings.

            I’m not taking a stand on the guys “view” but I will say I lived in a place with a great view of downtown and it was very disappointing when a big developer build a really ugly 6 story building blocking my view. The building could have been made taller and thinner adding density but still allowing some view.

            1. Cedar

              “The building could have been made taller and thinner adding density but still allowing some view.”

              I think this is an important point, and one that we, as a city and as a neighborhood, should be discussing more. It’s been my understanding that part of the reason so many of the new apartments look similar is because the developers want to squeeze in enough units to make them economically viable (which I think is understandable); if we could offer them the opportunity to play around more with height, I think it’s very likely we COULD get better design that preserves more views for more people.

              Unfortunately, in this city anytime anyone wants to build thinner and taller the protesters come out in full force, and so instead we get shorter buildings that end blocking far more view (or sky) than the taller options.

              1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

                I find the whole “view” discussion to be so strange. What is a view? Are views historic? Are views “yours”? What are you looking at? Why?

                Sunlight is nice. Buildings have windows.

                1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

                  Well, we don’t exactly have a good track record of encouraging taller buildings either. Look at the Tryg’s site where Trammel Crow proposed a 11 story “tower” including green space along the greenway that CIDNA shot down. So instead they are planning a “stick six” megablock. Over on UrbanMSP we had a good discussion about this: The developer submitted a deck that showed views from different locations, including nearby condos in the other towers. The 11-story proposal clearly protected more views than the 6-story modification (and also represented a more substantial investment in the neighborhood) yet CIDNA shot it down anyways.

          2. Adam MillerAdam

            Walked by there again yesterday. Only one of those houses has significant second story windows that would enjoy the view.

            And none will lose “greenery.”

    2. Adam MillerAdam

      Wait, what? Bike infrastructure is publicly funded so we should prevent other people from taking advantage of it? How backwards can you get?

      That these things are publicly funded is exactly why there should be more development around them.

      1. Cadillac Kolstad

        Not what I said, I said planning and permitting should reflect public investment. When we all pay for something it is not equitable for a few developers to benefit from that investment. I was talking more about the lakes but the bike paths are connected to the lakes. The greenway is problematic, there is a fee structure for developing adjacent to the parks, however the greenway is not part of the park system. The midtown greenway is a very expensive program. With many externalized costs. One of the big cost was closing the freight line displacing that transportation into big trucks and onto our city streets and highways.
        The problem is very similar to the highways which also benefitted developers at the expense of the public.
        Personally I think it’s backward for the taxpaying public to subsidize the rich and powerful through what amounts to a corporate welfare handout to big developers.

        1. Adam MillerAdam

          It also amounts to amenities for the people who live there to enjoy, both the existing and new residents that we should be trying to attract.

          If there are tools to get the developers to contribute to those amenities, that’s great, but excluding new residents from enjoying them out of disdain for developers doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

        2. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

          Granted, I’d like to see us move away from property tax to a land tax (thus encouraging investment rather than disinvestment on high-value property).

          Bud don’t we have a system that already captures the value of public amenities fairly well? The way we tax property, proportionally based on assessed market value, captures this value.

          It means high-end SFHs along Lake of the Isles or new luxury apartments along the Greenway, or even a new 45 unit apartment building at 23rd and Colfax will end up generating much more revenue for the public (especially revenue per acre and per dollar of infrastructure dollar).

          Also, since property tax is set as a levy rather than as a percentage of appraised value, new high-tax-revenue developments usually end up lowering the property taxes for SFH owners such as myself elsewhere in the city.

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