development

Selling parklands to save them

Yesterday on Twitter I suggested selling part of Iris Park in Saint Paul to developers for housing.

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A few questions the planning commission should ask about TOD at Hiawatha and Lake

In early December, Hennepin County and L&H Station (“the development team”) submitted plans for the development of L&H Station at 2225 East Lake Street, at the southwest quadrant of Lake Street and Hiawatha, a six-acre site immediately adjacent to the Lake Street station of the Blue Line. Below is the ground level plan submitted. In the context of the years of planning that led up to this submittal, and posts of my own, the following are a few questions I think the Planning Commission should ask.

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The curious case of luxury student housing

The American gentrification story will sound familiar to many: A historic neighborhood, home to traditionally transit-oriented apartments and modest single family homes, slowly becomes destitute and outdated as the automobile era drives population away from city centers. The neighborhood becomes derelict and neglected, but eventually, the bohemian counterculture — the artists, performers, musicians, and designers of a creative class — occupies and slowly kindles mainstream interest back into the area. Aside from retired, amenity-seeking empty nesters moving back into urban areas, most of these newcomers are young adults. There is a trend in these urban population shifts that is not often discussed — the study of college-aged students and their corresponding living patterns. Unlike other burgeoning urban neighborhoods, students occupy and dwell in a unique, confined location in close proximity to their college campus.

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Boring public a culprit in loss of treasured businesses

Last week, the owners of Nye’s Polonaise Room announced that the beloved Northeast Minneapolis bar would be closing next year to make way for a residential tower of some sort. It’s pretty sketchy what that will ultimately entail, but quotes from the developer indicate that the existing building will need to be demolished to make a tower work on the site, which is pretty small. It’s worth pointing out that, by now, you’d hope that smart developers know to start out with something crazy to then negotiate down to what they actually want to do. Also, the developer in question lost the nearby/huge Pillsbury “A” Mill complex to foreclosure after proposing an ambitious redevelopment plan about five years ago, so who knows, anything is possible in real estate. In any case, it seems like the bar & restaurant itself will be closing. The owners say they can’t make Nye’s work as a business anymore, but of course you’d want to take that statement with a pretty big grain of salt.

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Density without mixed-use baffles me

Last year I went to Thanksgiving dinner in Chanhassen. A friend of mine bought a house out there and hosted a dinner and, being curious and friendly, I made the trek.

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Big construction projects signal renewed economic vitality in Dayton's Bluff

Heading down East 6th or 7th Street from the west, a a visitor might be surprised at the amount of new construction and wonder if the neighborhood is starting over from scratch. It's likely that with four new major construction projects, many Dayton's Bluff residents aren't quite sure what's going on either. The map [above] shows the location and identity of each of these projects.

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Transit-oriented development: Quality over quantity

A colleague of mine (from a more urban city) recently visited. When he arrived, I offered to show him around and he wanted to see transit-oriented development (TOD). Hmm…. I wanted to impress him, but I was stumped. Despite all our attention as a city and region to TODs, I don’t believe we have any great transit villages right off the platform where we could go that would really resonate with him. There’s Nicollet Mall and Target Field Station, but I wanted him to say, “wow, this is great!,” but I didn’t feel those would produce that response. Maybe I have impossibly high standards (maybe I’m just getting old and codgery), or maybe the Twin Cities is lagging a bit in the TOD quality department. So I took him for a drive along the West River Parkway and to West River Commons, which impressed him. This begs the question what is TOD and how can we do it better?

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Minneapolis approves Prospect Park hotel

The Minneapolis City Council gave the final stamp of approval for a hotel in Prospect Park on Friday.

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Restore the grid! A vision for the center of Downtown Saint Paul

I live and work in Lowertown. Frequently my errands and wanderings take me up to the Rice Park/Landmark Center/7th Place areas. I’m always either on foot or bike. Over the last two-plus years of living here, I’ve become increasingly annoyed with the presence of the two “SuperBlocks”. These are the blocks that have 7th Street as the northern border, Wabasha Street as the western, 6th Street as the southern and Minnesota Street as the eastern border (See map). They house the Wells Fargo tower and the Bremer Bank tower on the north ends, facing 7th Street. The vacant Macy’s store and DoubleTree by Hilton face 6th Street on the south end. If you are coming from the mostly-pleasant 7th Street pedestrian mall and you want to go over to the eastern side of downtown, the most direct way is through the indoor “shopping” mall and skyway configuration of the SuperBlocks.

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Minneapolis should rethink the Above the Falls master plan

It is hard to overstate the importance of the Mississippi River in the urban form of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Once a source of energy and an important transport route, the river’s main value now is environmental and aesthetic. With the imminent closing of the Upper locks and the Upper Harbor Terminal–basically the Port of Minneapolis– the city has an incredible opportunity to redevelop 43 acres of riverfront land. More land will be available in the future, and the city has an extensive plan–the Above the Falls Master Plan–for developing the riverfront upriver from the Saint Anthony lock and dam.

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