Minneapolis development: What’s next at Hiawatha and Lake?

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October 16, 2010 CORRECTIONS AND RESPONSES: After publication of this article, CURA researchers and the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization contacted the Daily Planet to say that the article does not correctly represent their positions and findings, and that it contains factual errors about the reports and authors described. After reviewing their concerns and the reports and documents, the best option seems to be:

(1) to make factual corrections regarding the origin and nature of the reports and
(2) to set out the original text of the article side-by-side with the challenges presented.

The reports

The future of Hiawatha/Lake has been thoroughly studied and discussed over the past ten years. Among the most relevant reports and documents are:

1) The Corcoran Midtown Revival Plan adopted by the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization and the City of Minneapolis in 2002 (available on line.) [The article originally confused this plan with the BKV master plan.]

2) The BKV master plan for 2225 East Lake, prepared by the BKV group, with collaboration or contributions from a number of public and private community partners (attached as PDF below.)

3) A CURA research report titled “Assessing Public Parking Demand at Southwest Lake and Hiawatha” (attached as PDF below.)

4) The current Request for Proposals (RFP) for development of 2225 East Lake, with proposals due to the City of Minneapolis by November 1 (attached as PDF below.)


Original text:

As the November 1 deadline for proposals to redevelop a six-and-a-half acre plot next to the Lake Street light rail station looms, a new study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs warns that the quiet side streets of Minneapolis’s Corcoran neighborhood may be overwhelmed with visitors’ parked cars unless the final redevelopment plan includes extra parking spaces.  Architects working on one proposal and the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization, however, say that parking concerns can be addressed with shared parking and other strategies.

x x x x x x

Responses:

Eric Gustafson of Corcoran Neighborhood Organization: The article misses the basic context of Minneapolis zoning circa 2010 (especially the transit-oriented zoning at light rail station areas) by assuming that more demand for parking can simply be solved by constructing more supply without limitation. The CURA researcher understood what the TCDP author did not: that advocating for “extra parking spaces” or “hundreds of parking spaces” would be infeasible in legal, political, or economic terms.

Kris Nelson and Jeff Corn, CURA report authors: The main concern is that the report does not advocate for ‘extra parking spaces’ but rather states that demand for parking today may exceed future supply. This is of concern because a major reason for the research was to inform the neighborhood discussion about the balance of intense use TOD development and parking demand/availability. Characterizing the report as saying simply ‘more parking spaces’ does not help this discussion.

x x x x x x

 Editor’s note: All of the documents are available to you, the reader. Take a look, and decide what you think. If you’d like to add your voice to the discussion, click on “Comment” at the end of this article, or submit an article for publication.

Minneapolis Public Schools currently owns the site at 2225 Lake Street, and is looking to sell the land as part of decisions reached in last year’s restructuring process. The city of Minneapolis is managing the sale process on contract with the school district.  According to the Request for Proposals document, developers should propose a relatively tall design-around six stories-that incorporates multi-family housing, office space, and commercial space, along with a permanent space for the Midtown Farmer’s Market, affordable housing, and a permanent home for MPS’s Southside Welcome Center and Southside Adult Basic Education programs, currently housed on-site. The RFP specifically states:

The Midtown Farmers Market (MFM) is a grass roots operation conceived in 2003 by the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization (CNO). They have a no cost lease with the Minneapolis Public Schools. Operating twice per week on the current surface parking lot of 2225 E Lake Street, the market is a vital economic and social link between urban families and the farmers and crafts people of the region and has proven an important community asset at a strategic location adjacent to the Lake Street LRT Station.

Respondents to this request for proposals are strongly encouraged to include a high- quality public or quasi-public space usable for community events and that serves as a permanent location for a farmers market.

BKV Architects have assembled a broad coalition of developers for their entry into the RFP contest. Their master plan proposes a large parking garage on the site of the Midtown YWCA’s current parking lot, along with substantial underground parking, and additional residential parking. The CURA report suggests any redevelopment plan consider making space for car-and bicycle-sharing programs on the site.

The CURA report also identified the possibility that current users of the park-and-ride lot, which MetroTransit leases from MPS, might increase “hide-and-ride” parking in neighborhood streets if the new development were to leave them with fewer park-and-ride spots.  A MetroTransit spokesperson said the organization fears that “unless we had a single-seat bus ride for every single one of those commuters, they would find it inefficient to access the Hiawatha Line via multiple bus connections.”

Non-residents currently do not need parking permits to park on the side streets. According to the CNO’s Eric Gustafson, residents explored the possibility in March of 2008, but no action has been taken since then to move forward with requesting a permit-only designation from the city.