Welcome back to 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. Today we’ll be voting for contenders in the Development and Transportation categories, personal favorites of mine.
They’re very popular categories Nick, in particular for streets.mn, whose stated mission is to expand the conversation on land use and transportation in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota. Before we get started, let’s look back at the first round.
Sounds like a plan, Jim. In Round 1, the play-in games, we saw our 8 and 9 seeds face off, with Block E, Union Depot, the Clean Energy Partnership, and Social Media Parodies beating out Uptown Hot Tub, Target Field Station, Beekeeping, and Jacob Frey’s Zany Quotes.
- (8) Block E (57%) over (9) Uptown Hot Tub (43%)
- (9) Union Depot (66%) over (8) Target Field Station (34%)
- (8) Clean Energy Partnership (59%) over (9) Beekeeping (41%)
- (8) Social Media Performance Art (56%) over (9) Jacob Frey’s Zany Quotes (44%)
Any surprises there?
Union Depot’s upset over Target Field Station was our largest margin of victory, perhaps casting doubt on the cat who seeded the entries, as it’s hard to disagree with the hundreds of readers who cast votes. I have to say I’m a little disappointed that Uptown Hot Tub beat out Block E, but thrilled that Beekeeping lost, due to the terrifying nature of bees.
Absolutely, Nick. What should we be looking for in this next round?
Well, for one thing, we’re going to break up Round 2 into two parts, as there are sixteen (!) total games required and that’s a lot of work. I like Surly Brewery’s chances to upset Downtown St. Paul Lund’s, ditto for Nice Ride Expansion versus Hennepin/Lyndale Bottleneck Reconstruction.
I’ve got to say, Nice Ride gave it 110% all last year, and they’re an entry to watch. And speaking of 110%–I hear that we’ve got some new swag to give out.
We sure do, Jim. Now that streets.m(ad)n(ess) is cooking with fire, we’re prepared to give out some prizes. The shadowy forces behind streets.mn just ordered a bunch of stickers as they prepare to bulk up their membership program, and we’re going to be giving out sweet streets.mn stickers to readers who Tweet or Facebook their completed bracket–because we have no shame.
That’s been an ongoing issue for you, right Nick?
Life’s a struggle, Jim. In any case, share those brackets with us before this batch of voting closes tomorrow at 8 PM–or today at 8 PM if you’re reading it on Tuesday. Anyway, how about some streets.m(ad)n(ess)?
(1) U of M Density
The Dinkytown and Stadium Village areas around the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus have really taken off in the past few years. Thousands of units with many thousands more beds have been added in projects that have dramatically changed those areas and, really, the overall experience of being a Gopher.
By itself, the grocery section in the new Target Express in Dinkytown will certainly eliminate tens of thousands of automobile trips every year, which is pretty astounding. Sort of wacky–just five or ten years ago, the U was set up a lot like city with a high-density downtown with no residential, and far-flung, low-density residential suburbs sprawling every which way. It still is a bit, but now students have way more options for living closer to campus. When I graduated in 2011, I lived in a woodsy cabin up at 26th and Como, a sort of Hudson, Wisconsin.
(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.
(4) Downtown St. Paul Lund’s
Downtown St. Paul got its first (and only) grocery store of the 21st century in a mixed-use development called the Penfield. Lund’s, the urbane Mars to Byerlys’ genteel Venus, opened in May 2014, shortly before the nearby Green Line came online. (Did you know that the owner of Lund’s and Byerly’s is named “Tres Lund?” “Very Lund?”) While it’s kind of sketchy that the City of St. Paul acted as the developer, ultimately the building leased up and you’d have to think that everyone will come out ahead on this one. Downtown St. Paul is ripe (as hell, frankly) for continued residential development, and having a full-service grocery store goes a long way.
(5) Surly Brewery
Back in 2011, Surly, a local brewer, managed to hit that sweet spot of having a law named after it without being murdered first. That law allows brewers to sell single pints of beer onsite at their breweries. Their huge new facility opened up late last year, and by all accounts has been packed since then. It’s located in Minneapolis right near the border with St. Paul, within easy walking distance of the Green Line, which you will hopefully take to get there.
Sometimes I feel like craft beer is a bubble, but then I remember that everyone I don’t know personally still drinks Bud Light. One time I was in an elevator with a six pack of Summit and some guys asked “is that some of that artsy beer?” True story. We have so much work to do.
(3) Midtown Greenway Transformation
This is dramatic! The north side of the Midtown Greenway through Uptown Minneapolis has been almost completely redeveloped in the past five years, and some of the south side too. Old lumberyards and surface parking lots have been turned into thousands of residential units along what’s probably our region’s most well-known cycling and pedestrian facility. This also means taxba$e for you, the dollars and sense-focused streets.mn reader, tens of millions of dollars of it. This is the kind of stuff we need to be doing to avoid everyone dying in a horrible resource war in thirty years, so quit complaining about bros and please walk literally one block north thanks.
(6) Nicollet Hotel Block
This is dramatic! Last year, the City of Minneapolis issued a Request for Proposals for a chunk of land they own at the corner of Hennepin and Washington in Downtown Minneapolis–a sexy parcel indeed. The requirements included a mix of uses, a 20 active story minimum, and accommodation of the Nicollet-Central streetcar, which is to traverse the site.
After the field was narrowed down to three IRL proposals, planners recommended a mostly residential 36 story proposal from United Properties, which presumably will breeze through approvals and such and get started towards the end of the year.
(2) Downtown East Redevelopment
Minneapolis’ Downtown East, long a desolate and wind-swept expanse of surface parking lots and things like jails and hospitals and morgues that Hennepin County probably wouldn’t elect to site in Bearpath, is jam-packed with tower cranes. Two on each tower of the new Wells Fargo offices, a couple on the Vikings stadium parking ramp, five or six on the actual Vikings stadium. It’s Dubai-ish. All birds aside, I probably check this webcam just about daily.
A park, a grocery store, and lots of residential is in the pipeline, and it will be pretty rad to see this all fill in, extending the very successful redevelopment of the Mill District down towards Elliot Park.
(7) Pillsbury A-Mill Reuse
This complex, which is included on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and a property contributing to a U.S. Historic District, had been empty since 2003 when Dominium began a conversion into artists’ lofts last year. The units are income-restricted and generally require that a certain percentage of the tenants’ income comes from the arts–read more here.
I used to grumble about this particular type of housing subsidy, and still kind of question the inclusion of dishwashers, but a little while ago someone on the forum very casually pointed out that governments have been subsidizing artists since at least the Renaissance, and it blew my mind.
Redeveloping this complex doesn’t just save a historic property, it fills a hole in the St. Anthony Main riverfront, which by the end of the year will be a complete line of seven blocks of occupied, productive uses, filled with thousands of residents and hundreds of jobs, plus restaurants, bars, offices, a movie theater, and those damn Segways.
(1) Green Line
The METRO Green Line opened in the middle of last year, connecting Downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, Downtown St. Paul, and countless things in between. Ridership projections have been blown out of the water–as they tend be on non-bad transit projects. The train probably isn’t as fast as it could be, but it is improving.
Other subtle benefits include the reconstruction of and calming of traffic on University Avenue, a little but hopefully soon more transit orientated development, and the restructuring of local bus service feeding into the train around St. Paul. A full train runs way cheaper per passenger than a full bus, and Metro Transit has been able to beef up service.
We now have two real lines on our map, and that is neat.
(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.
(4) Apparent Salvage of SWLRT
The southwesterly Green Line extension, the world’s largest ball of inertia, got a big boost earlier this month when the Minneapolis Park Board (after being pretty much blackmailed by Governor Dayton, which, lol) voted 6-3 to approve a deal dropping their opposition the “shallow tunnel” plan. Which, it should be pointed out, is all still insane, but w/e at this point honestly.
Several days later, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Council can proceed, though we’ll see how that plays out. Lots of lawsuits against the Green Line failed, and while Kenwoodians have lots of money and free time, so did the University of Minnesota. The DFL, if it is worth anything at all, will figure out a way to get the state portion of this funded this year and then we won’t have to hear about it for a while.
(5) Car2Go Expansion to St. Paul
Last year, the popular car sharing service and thing I am always about to sign up for expanded to include St. Paul, a city neighboring Minneapolis to the east. Very nifty considering local bus service is a little less robust in St. Paul, and lugging around all that charm would probably be easier with a car.
(3) Hennepin/Lyndale Bottleneck Reconstruction
The terrible Hennepin/Lyndale Bottleneck in Minneapolis is being rebuilt and reworked later this year, but it was dangerously close to a simple repaving. After an open house at the Walker Art Center last year, community blow/feedback led to a revision of the plans that removes some driving lanes, adds pedestrian and cycling improvements, and generally makes it less awful to exist in and around. The new layout was approved by the Minneapolis City Council in September of last year.
What you’ve got here is an actual, real life example of measured and reasonable citizen feedback through a public process leading to an improved outcome.
(6) Nice Ride Expansion
Nice Ride, one of the best things to exist, is expanding with 20 new stations in 2015, bringing the total to 190 across the Twin Cities. Also, they added these nifty key dispensers to some stations last year, making signing up even easier. The wildly-popular bike share program is also pedaling out early this year, and kiosks will be ready to go on April 1. It’s hard not to connect yesterday’s snowfall to the early deployment of Nice Ride kiosks across the city…what did we do wrong to deserve this, o vengeful God?
(7) TCUP Bus Stop Stickers
Who are these rascally bandits? These citizen-made stickers with bus stop signage started appearing on bus stop poles in South Minneapolis last year, and more have popped up around Downtown Minneapolis, St. Anthony Main, and the University of Minnesota. Guerrilla urbanism has a writing about it/doing it ratio worse than everything other than dieting and exercise, so it was refreshing to see someone do something.
More recently, Metro Transit announced plans to start rolling out more informative bus stop signage, which is great.
CAST YOUR VOTES.
This poll will remain open until 8:00 PM CST on Tuesday, March 24.
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