Archive | Public Realm

Pedestrianizing Big Box Stores – Midway Super Target

Like many parts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Midway in Saint Paul is a slightly strange hybrid between urban and suburban built forms.  Houses and apartments on narrow lots and streetcar-era retail buildings with zero setbacks coexist (oftentimes uneasily) with suburban-style big-box stores that have giant parking lots.  The Green Line provides frequent transit service to places that have […]

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Street Connections

How important are connections between inside and out? Panino’s, a place my wife and I enjoy eating at fairly often, recently expanded into the space next door. The original space was kind of a quirky collection of areas but it worked and felt comfortable. Unfortunately the new space is a giant windowless sterile echo chamber […]

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When a Transit Shelter is Not a Transit Shelter

Last week Metro Transit unveiled a collaboration with the Downtown Improvement District to place a new bus shelter at 3rd Avenue S and S 7th Street downtown which is a very busy stop. This new shelter doubles as an herb greenhouse to better blah blah blah I can’t believe I’m writing this. Look. I can’t believe I have […]

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Detroit Still Exists

I spent a few days last month in downtown Detroit at CNU 24. CNU is smart enough to host their annual “congress” in and around the city. We spent not a single moment in a conference center, but rather in beautiful old theaters, bars, parks, pop-up event spaces with food trucks, tables, vendors and Ping-Pong, and informal gathering spots. In […]

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The Surprising Urban Geography of Pokemon Go

You see them chasing digital dreams,  shadows of their childhood. Young people ambling slowly with faces pressed to their phones, clumps plotting on benches. It’s Pokemon Go,  the new game! Half digital, half material, and a sign of things to come. I don’t have to explain it to you, because a hundred hot takes have done […]

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Pokemon GO: 10 Streets Etiquette Tips for Pokemon Trainers

Perhaps you have seen people wandering around with their face in a phone, more than usual? Perhaps you have heard them exclaim that they have found a “Pokestop!” or a “wild Charmander?” Perhaps you have even heard of the new craze, which is a mobile game called Pokemon GO. In it, mobile phone users become […]

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Shopping Centers vs. Transit Users

The Star Tribune recently ran a story about a Coon Rapids strip mall owner who is trying to evict a public transit bus stop from its property, saying this violates its property rights. This private property versus transit controversy has surfaced several times before in this metro area and across the nation. It falls in a […]

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Can We Have Quieter Food Trucks Please?

I like food trucks. I’m usually too cheap to spend $10 on food truck food, but that doesn’t matter because they do a great job at enlivening our public spaces. Food trucks mean more people outside, occupying formerly empty spots in the streetscape. Plus, I’m told they offer good food. And with all the brick-and-mortar […]

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Decision Time for Minneapolis Director of Public Works

The other day I saw a father and his kid stand at the corner, waiting to cross the street. They had just bought a doughnut at A Baker’s Wife (the best bakery in the city), located at 42nd Street and 28th Avenue in south Minneapolis. Whether they were heading to their car or walking home, […]

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Can We Hit the Pause Button on the Macy’s Site?

It is easy to look at the former Macy’s store in St. Paul and see an irredeemable wreck. It is large and hostile to pedestrians. Its few windows and huge floorplates were ideal for the retail environment of the 1960’s, but are stubbornly resistant to redevelopment. It is too expensive to tear down, and besides, developers aren’t […]

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