development

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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The impending decline of second-ring suburbs

There is a small war going on in America’s second-ring suburbs.

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Residentes se suman al desarrollo de 2225 East Lake

Cerca de 150 personas llegaron el 3 de abril a escuchar sobre los planes propuestos por Hennepin County para la compra y rediseño de 2225 East Lake, propiedad de 6.5 acres, entre la estación del tren ligero de Lake Street y el YWCA. Desde aquel tiempo, el Condado ha juntado a 2 grupos de trabajo de del gobierno, profesionales de diseño y residentes locales, para trabajar en el asunto relacionado al diseño sustentable y conexiones de trafico bici/peatones dentro del diseño. Cada uno de estos grupos se ha reunido una vez, y el CNO reunió información de residentes quienes participaron, incluyendo residentes de Corcoran como Jane St. Clair, Tami Traeger, John Paul, Benjamin Tsai, Billy Weber, Gerry Tyrrell, Heidi Traore, Jim Walsh y Peggy Knapp.

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Making transit-oriented development great at Lake and Hiawatha

There is room for improvement at the transit-oriented development proposed at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue. It has been a long time coming, but the latest version of the project (shown above) has Hennepin County acting as master developer, working with a private design and development team led by BKV Group. A Hennepin County service center will be the primary tenant of a mixed-use office/retail building on the 6-acre site, which will also include an approximate one acre public plaza that will be home to the Midtown Farmers Market, as well as around 500 housing units. The county has indicated a short timeline to get the county services building up and running, and I fear in their haste urban design and public realm issues won’t be properly vetted.

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A look inside Saint Paul's 8-80 Vitality Fund

Ever since Mayor Chris Coleman introduced his 2015 budget in August, I’ve been anxious to learn more about the details of the Mayor’s proposal for a new $42.5 million “8-80 Vitality Fund”. Last week a list of projects were posted online in preparation for the City Council’s October 8th budget review session. I shared the list with streets.mn readers in my post, “Saint Paul’s 8-80 Vitality Fund Can Help Saint Paul Work for Everyone” (October 7, 2014). But I still had a lot of questions about the details, so I headed down to City Hall to listen in on the Council discussion. The majority of the time was spent reviewing the Palace Theater renovation project and the newly prepared list of projects to be funded with the remaining $9.5M

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Conservation districts are (still) a bad idea

Minneapolis Conservation Districts are back in the news, and they look to have some broader support as the ordinance goes to a full city council next week. We’ve covered the topic at streets.mn before, with a dissenting take, some reasons to support them, and a fun podcast for those who hate reading. Even burgeoning news source The Wedge Times-Picayune picked up my annoying Twitter rant yesterday (side note: I’m still awaiting my signing bonus as an official correspondent).

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