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.
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.