Prospect Park Neighborhood Meeting on Prospect North. February 14, 2015

Prospect North

On a sub-zero Valentine’s Day morning, I walked over to Omar Ansari’s Surly Brewing company. Not for an early morning pick-me-up (I total tee), but rather for a community meeting about the status of the Prospect Park North redevelopment. It was a standing room only crowd, (no doubt enhanced by the offer of free breakfast, but still), which came to hear about the redevelopments around the Prospect Park Green Line LRT station. There were many officials and semi-officials there. Plans are afoot to create a special Prospect Park Urban Innovation District. Everyone in the Partnership was very happy and enthusiastic. And why not, these are boom times, a billion dollars was just spent on an LRT, and this is a prime relocation spot. And more public investment is called for. There was much applause. This is unlike most community meetings I know.

Prospect Park Neighborhood Meeting on Prospect North. February 14, 2015

Prospect Park Neighborhood Meeting on Prospect North. February 14, 2015

Profiled in City Pages and the Star Tribune, this is a distinct endeavor of the community. Related efforts include Prospect Park 2020 and the University of Minnesota’s plans for a Science Park just north of 4th Street (forums thread).

So what’s going on:

Fourth Street reconstruction. Fourth is currently a dilapidated mess from Malcolm Avenue to the east side of TCF Bank Stadium, serving the backends of warehouses with heaving concrete pavement that calms traffic by wrecking cars, but at least is conveniently adjacent to a number of body shops. As the road immediately north of University, if it were connected, it would likely get traffic, but a stretch of it just east of Malcolm has been disconnected to discourage through traffic, and so it doesn’t get longer distance trips. With all of the new development, the city is the process of adopting much of the neighborhood proponents vision about a shared space (or Woonerf) Green Fourth Street, completely rebuilt, landscaped, environmentally sound, with new infrastructure, permeable pavers and infiltration gardens. The first phase will be from Malcolm to 29th adjacent to the Cornerstone Group’s Prospect North Gardens (forums thread).

District Energy. The plan is for the buildings in this new neighborhood to be served by District Energy, like parts of downtown St. Paul and Energy Park, among others.  The advantages is this saves heating expenses and energy. The disadvantage is that with such central heating and cooling, user comfort is sacrificed, so say some tenants of these schemes. Implementing this is tricky since the new buildings will need to be district energy-ready before district energy is ready.

Together the aim is not just for the neighborhood to be “sustainable”, but to be “resilient” and “regenerative”.

Prospect Park Business Center. The building, immediately adjacent to the LRT station, currently housing Overflow Cafe and Children’s Village Montessori, and once a Caterpillar Factory will be torn down and replaced with apartments and a grocery. A lot of apartments. There will be townhouses built into the multi-story, multi-family building facing directly onto 29th Avenue and the LRT station. There will be a ~ 30,000 square foot grocery store which “the neighborhood will like” according to the family which owns the site (Barnhart), though names are not being revealed. As a resident, I hope so. As my wife says “don’t promise me happiness”.

Glendale Homes redevelopment. This was the one of two sites south of University Avenue that garnered any attention at this meeting (the other being a Hampton Inn on the site of a burned down building on the south side of University, which is approved and due to break ground shortly). Glendale Homes is a Minneapolis Public Housing Administration project  of 184 units built in 1952 for returning War Veterans (Korea?, seems too late for World War II). Like all 60 year olds, it has exceeded its planned life and needs to be replaced (I am sure that is not quite the way the representative put it). The plans call for a new senior housing building on University, tearing down the existing townhomes and putting in larger multi-family structures, particularly along the 27th Avenue border. The new housing would be a mix of public (subsidized) housing and market rate housing. The representative said that rehabilitating the houses would be “throwing good money after bad”. I only know the houses from the outside (I sometimes walk through), and they seem fine, though I am sure they need rehabilitation. Whether the costs of that are worthwhile I am not sure, but rehabilitation would preclude intensification of the site, and as we know, Southeast Minneapolis is where the growth is at right now. At any rate, full reconstruction does imply displacement, at least temporarily. The flier says one of the Next Steps is to “create an internal task force on resident relocation that will begin to develop strategies on the eventual relocation of Glendale residents”. (Note, they are the objects, not the subjects). The site does seem low on my hierarchy of urban redevelopment sites, especially given the amounts of surface parking and abandoned lots still around.

Other sites. There are a bunch of other parcels in various stages of development. At least one building was owned by Wall Properties. You can be sure that if the economy holds, these will add to the mix.

Not mentioned. Will Granary Road every be completed?

The Far Future. Just north of this are rail yards full of containers. If the neighborhood indeeds become valuable enough, one imagines the railroads might consider relocating their freight transfer operations so that the can redevelop this land for profit. Railroads give up land? Nah.


13 thoughts on “Prospect North

  1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    If you went to Surly, you must have noted that it’s not terribly convenient to get there on foot from the Green Line station. Were than any near-term plans to address that? (Sounds like the 4st rebuild will eventually take care of it)

  2. David LevinsonDavid Levinson Post author

    The plans for 4th should take care of the LRT – Surly trek. That link would be phase 1. Apparently 2015/2016 will have a lot of construction, so it may be after that when everything is in place.

  3. Evan RobertsEvan

    The best way to get from the LRT to Surly & vv. would be up the transitway if the transitway bike/ped path was plowed.

  4. David MarkleDavid Markle

    Glad that the Granary Road question at least got mentioned. it seems to me that the City has not kept the long-time businesses in that area north of University, on or near Malcolm, well informed of City plans in general. The LRT infrastructure makes it difficult or impossible to bring big trucks and heavy equipment to and from Malcolm. The lack of follow-through on Granary Road strikes me as rather scandalous, another sign that city government wants a boutique Minneapolis.

  5. Tcmetro

    Hopefully the Glendale site can be responsibly redeveloped. Chicago is full of former public housing sites that are slowly being redeveloped, but are for the most part vacant lots.

    From what I understand, public housing in the 1950s and 1960s was cheaply built, and after 60 years it makes sense to completely replace them. New buildings will better fit the neighborhood, and will provide additional market-rate housing for the neighborhood.

  6. Janne

    MPHA stands for Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, (not Minneapolis Public Housing Administration).

    My guess would be that intensifying that site would be preferable to rehabbing and securing an additional site because of the extreme scarcity of capital dollars. HUD hasn’t had any available capital for many years, so the funds would have to come from mostly state funds and Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The cost of acquiring more land may be a make-or-break factor in the budgets.

  7. David MarkleDavid Markle

    The pithy reference to the residents of Glendale reminds me of the Holman project that centered on removal of the Sumner Field public housing in North Minneapolis. The project was promoted, publicized and pushed (via lawsuits) in such a way to appear as a combatting of discrimination related to “excessive concentration of poverty.” In reality it was nothing more than a redevelopment project, and both the City and the city-funded Legal Aid Society shamed themselves with their misrepresentation. The residents were kicked out quite summarily, with federal vouchers to use if they could find a place to use them. The NAACP had been drawn into the push, but when their rising leader began to criticize she got replaced by a city employee. The project’s very high true costs have never been fully revealed.

  8. David MarkleDavid Markle

    And prominent city officials and other white folks came to cast votes at the NAACP meeting where the rising leader got dumped.

  9. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker

    It should be mentioned that Overflow is the warmest coffee shop in the Twin Cities.

    Wonder what type of businesses are forseen for the Prospect North district? I would like to see a bar counterpart to Overflow, but I wonder if the proximity to Surly and Wash. Ave might discourage that.

    One piece of low hanging fruit is the building at the corner of Malcolm and University, which currently houses Mark It Graphics. The area could use a small market, in the Speedy Mart model. Something more substantitve than the Super America, but not as large as a full blown supermarket. Perhaps it could go there?

  10. Keith Morris

    The walk to Surly isn’t that bad: 7 minutes and under a half mile. Cut that to just over 2 by bike.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      It’s not, but it’s counter-intuitive to head the wrong way out of the station and use the Washington Avenue sidewalks.

      If you leave the station in the direction of Surly, you’re stuck on 4th without any sidewalks (and a very beat up road surface) or on the unplowed path on the transitway.

      1. Peter Bajurny

        The one time I walked to Surly from the Prospect Park, somebody pulled over next to me and asked me how to get to Surly, so I told him where it was and that I was going there, and so he offered me a ride the rest of the way there.

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