Hello and welcome to the first round of streets.m(ad)n(ess), where you, the streets.mn reader, get to vote for your favorite goings on in the world of Twin Cities urbanism. We’ve got four categories for you: Development, Transportation, Policy, and Potpourri, each with nine entries offered up by our top-notch community and placed into a bracket by a local cat.
Thanks, Nick, I think we can all agree that this is gonna be a helluva year for streets.m(ad)n(ess). Can you explain a bit about the process before we get started?
Sure can, Jim. The first round here is between the 8 and 9 seeds–these are “play-in games,” according to my reading of the NCAA Tournament’s Wikipedia page. We’re picking teams–er, entries–that will go on to face the 1 seeds in the next round, which will have twice as many games and accompanying blurbs to write.
Have any predictions?
Hard to tell, Jim. I’ve got my eyes on Transparent Hot Tub in Uptown?? right now–I think there’s a lot of potential for a crowd pleaser there. Seeing that go on to the next round to face 1 seed U of M Density would be a lot like Richard Pitino’s Gophers playing Rick Pitino’s Cardinals, if you think about it.
Sure would, right?
You bet. A lot of people are also pretty excited about 8 seed Social Media Performance Art and the team they’ve put together, a real colorful cast of characters. We’re all rootin’ for ’em.
That’s been a real wacky show to watch.
Absolutely. Alright, Jim, it’s game time…
(8) Block E Rere(pre-rerere?)development
Block E, originally a block of buildings in Downtown Minneapolis, was leveled a couple decades ago to make way for a grand development in characteristically 90s Disneyland/Main Street USA-style. It hosted unique retail offerings like a Borders bookstore and an “Applebee’s” food restaurant. More recently, the struggling complex was purchased for $14 million dollars–effectively $3.50 and a paper clip and an expired Dairy Queen coupon–and a casino of all things was proposed for the spot, which led to the emptying of almost all the remaining retail tenants in the building.
That plan fizzled in the legislature, though, and a new plan emerged. The complex was renamed Mayo Clinic Square (Block E -> Mayo Clinic Square -> E = MC2 -> no way) and landed a Minnesota Timberwolves practice facility and a whole sports medicine complex on its upper floors. The structure, described as “Minnesota Modern” in the papers, is a very different from the previous iteration, and could be said to be a massive improvement.
(9) Transparent Hot Tub in Uptown??
Down in Uptown Minneapolis, one new apartment building (check out that logo–no, look harder) has a rather unique amenity–a cantilevered, see-through hot tub hanging over the sidewalk along Lake Street. That is nuts! There’s something very the-fun-parts-of-the-Roman-Empire about that. Now that that leak is patched and it’s warming up again, expect to see Blake and Tara taking it all in from the hot tub, Heinekens in hand.
(8) Target Field Station
Downtown Minneapolis’ premiere train station–now connecting four counties! The northern and western and southern termini for the METRO Blue and Green Lines and Northstar Commuter Rail opened this past summer around the time the Green Line came online. There is also a public amphitheater on site and a Caribou Coffee and an absurd amount of this, and another parcel on its edge awaits redevelopment. Target Field Station is the center of hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private investment that have flowed into an unlikely corner of the North Loop since Target Field itself opened several years ago.
The location is out on the periphery now, but as the extensions for the Green and Blue Lines get built in the next decade, it’ll be right in the middle of the transit system.
(9) Union Depot Rehabilitation
Downtown St. Paul’s premiere train station–now with trains! The $243 million dollar project, made possible by a generous donation from our Uncle Sam, rehabilitated a long abandoned facility, turning it into a multimodal hub (*shudders*) for transit, including the METRO Green Line, local Metro Transit buses, intercity buses, free casino shuttle buses which I have used, and Amtrak. There is also a restaurant and event space. Mortenson, URS, and HGA did an absolutely bang up job of renovating the structure, which is beautiful on the inside.
(8) Clean Energy Partnership
Following a hypothetical push to municipalize Minneapolis’ electric grid that ultimately and thankfully died in committee back in 2013–sidebar: if we’re going to take something over Venezuela-style, it should be Comcast–the City of Minneapolis set up the Clean Energy Partnership betwixt them, Xcel Energy, and CenterPoint Energy. The City’s 2015 Budget includes new funding to work with these partners on its climate goals, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their 2006 levels 15% by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050, and if you’ll remember, this winter was freezing, so something must be going right there.
When I was like 11, I was trouncing around in “the woods” with Chris and Curtis, and as luck would have it, I tripped into a huge pile of dead wood, which, in a puzzling fashion, started buzzing. “Wood doesn’t buzz,” I thought, as the bees started swarming around me, stinging my generally confused self, getting stuck in my clothes before I ran out of the woods screaming and luckily finding a lady in her yard who sprayed me down with a hose. Spent several years after that freaking out when mosquitoes buzzed in my ears, which was a good thing to be scared of in Florida.
Er what are we talking about? Oh yeah sorry, last year saw the loosening of regulations regarding beekeeping. Lot more bees in Minneapolis now, making honey and rebuilding pollinator populations and supporting local agriculture. Gotta keep our eyes on this one.
(8) Social Media Performance Art
Crazy world we live in, with the social media and everything. Speaking truth to power or talking to yourself like a madman in plain view of thousands has never been so easy. Great sandwiches, all, thanks. Keeping in mind that the world is chaotic and dehumanizing, some local intrepid citizens have taken up the cause of causes “on-line.” You’ve got your second ring built environments, your parking enthusiasts, your crotchety old drivers. Some are unintentional, and some do better journalism than the newspapers of a lot of large towns. This interview is probably the funniest thing I read all last year, and there are a lot of funny things to read in a year.
(9) Jacob Frey’s Zany Quotes
Minneapolis Third Ward Councilmember Jacob Frey certainly has a knack for getting blocks of text placed into local newspapers. Whether it’s naming the city’s “sexiest parcel,” advocating for more “furious make out spots,” or eviscerating mindless buzzwordery, Frey can get your attention. Local government, unable to declare war or run trillion dollar deficits, can deal with some pretty dry subjects, and throwing some cayenne pepper into your conditional use permit hearing stew will not only clear your sinuses but also keep you awake until the meeting is adjourned.
CAST YOUR VOTES.
This poll will remain open until 8:00 PM CST on Sunday, March 22.
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