The Yard, part five: Unanswered questions loom

Some huge questions about The Yard remain unanswered (the latest stadium legal challenge notwithstanding). The Park Committee met on January 9 to begin fleshing out a vision for The Yard. The committee has made a good start by identifying prioritization of year-round activities (note, activities year round is different than year-round activities – a skating rink, for example is seasonal), the idea that active uses attract passive, and balancing daily uses with major events. This is all well and good, but I can’t help but think that now more than ever is the time to engage more professional assistance in thinking about this vision – I’m looking at you, PPS! (Actually, I’m looking at you, Park Committee, to commit some funds to pay for this.) Project for Public Spaces (PPS) has done this numerous times across the country. They could be of tremendous assistance. Continue Reading

A lot to like about the “Capri Renaissance,” and one thing to watch out for

At a recent community meeting, the Capri Theater presented its proposal for an expansion of their current building. Overall, these changes are excellent, and especially as someone who lives around the corner I cannot wait for them to happen. In fact, a main issue with the upgrades is that the fundraising needed will likely mean that we’re at least a year or even two or more away from breaking ground. Continue Reading

The Yard part four: A vision for an active urban park

The Yard must be an active urban space, regardless of design. During the Park Committee meeting last week, co-chairs David Wilson and Tom Fisher went around the room asking people about their favorite park. Examples given included Hyde Park in London, the High Line in New York and Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. The most common attribute given, and a common denominator, was because these parks were “active.” That said, as the Park Committee moves at lightning speed to come up with a vision and begin fundraising for The Yard, it seems reasonable that the vision be more rooted in how it is used more than what it looks like. Continue Reading

Time to raise expectations for The Yard – A world class park in Downtown Minneapolis

The Yard is the name of the 3.4-acre open space proposed as part of the redevelopment of five blocks of Star Tribune land adjacent to the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. With all the attention being given to the stadium and secondarily to attracting Wells Fargo as a major office tenant in the project, it is easy to forget the park itself, by far the most important piece of this project. Let’s not lull ourselves in to thinking that a place called “The Yard” can be just a casual place to gather with grass and trees. It has to be much more than that. It is profoundly important that elected officials and business leaders in the city have the vision and use the right tools to make The Yard the gathering place for downtown Minneapolis every day of the year. Continue Reading