Category: Neighborhoods

A dubious urbanist wonders: Is this a good thing?

  Something interesting has been happening lately. It’s a strange phenomenon that has this urbanist scratching his head. Mid-rise apartment buildings, the sort that signal a certain level of urban self-sustainability, have been popping up in locales that urbanists love to hate. This curiosity was first noticed at St. Louis Park’s mostly vacant “attempt” at […]

Friday Photo – Washington Avenue

  The Green Line light rail project will connect downtown St. Paul with downtown Minneapolis and is set to begin service in 2014. I happen to work on this block so have witnessed the gradual changes over the years as construction of the project progressed. When I found these two images, I was really struck […]

Instagram of the Totino's building

In Defense of the Totino’s Apartments

I recently came across this blog post by Andrew Yarish lamenting that the old Totino’s building is being “razed to make way for trendy apartments.” He doesn’t explicitly criticize the development, but his tone betrays his disapproval. I understand the sentiment — this building is cute. But cute buildings don’t make cities great; instead it’s […]

Keeping Green Streets Alive

Rain gardens and other streetside stormwater retention systems are designed to infiltrate street runoff, retain pollutants, and incorporate attractive plantings.  That is the vision, but the reality is that they are hard to get right, particularly in a cold climate like Minnesota.  What makes a curb-cut rain garden project sucessful? The move to install decentralized […]

City Council and NIMBYs Adopt Scorched Earth Policy to “Save Dinkytown”

By now you’re familiar with the Dinkytown story. The last few years have seen a wave of development around the University of Minnesota campus. The Dinkydome (my old haunt) transformed from a weirdly depressing food court into fancy apartments. The auto repair shop in Stadium Village  (my mom’s favorite) is becoming apartments. Sally’s (home of the […]

Ice Cream by Foot in St. Paul & Afield

On Monday, David discussed the challenge of walking anywhere when one lives in the neighborhood bordered by MN280 and I94. Because it’s July, and I operate on “any excuse necessary to discuss ice cream,” today we will discuss vendors of ice cream in St. Paul and in the Twin Cities where you can — and […]

If not gentrification—what?

Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of going to the Guthrie Theater for a reason other than a Vikings Stadium design unveiling. I was there for a performance of Clybourne Park*, which, according to Wikipedia, is a modern response to Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun. For those who don’t click […]

Good Urbanism vs. Good Urbanism… Who Wins?

In a fight between good vs. good, who wins? That is the current question at hand for the latest development near the University of Minnesota. CPM Development, the company that is currently building the Elysian and will build the WaHu Student Housing (hopefully only a working title) soon, has issued a request for a zoning […]

Minneapolis Skyline

Peer-to-Peer Urbanism & New Urban Mechanics

Last night, I attended a Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association meeting featuring Nigel Jacob, of the Office of New Urban Mechanics in the City of Boston. He spoke about the means by which the office streamlines innovation to create crowdsourced and peer-to-peer solutions to make cities more livable and enjoyable for residents. Urbanization is increasing worldwide, […]

An Island of Urbanity (or, “Can you pick me up maybe..?”)

I, through a combination of factors that are too complicated to explain here, did not get my driver’s license until I was 20 years old. There was a whole thing. As a result, my “default” mode of transportation has never been a car. I rode my bike to work in high school, and even got […]