Minneapolis: Sheridan’s small area planning

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For more than a decade, Sheridan Neighborhood Organization (SNO) volunteers have entertained development proposals for properties near the Mississippi, Marshall Street, along 13th Avenue and at its various nodes. Many have been built or are underway.

“The impetus” for their current work on a Sheridan Small Area Plan, says consultant Breanne Rothstein, “is development pressure. There’s lots of city owned land,” and opportunities to partner, do proactive work before the developments. It’s also a city goal for every activity center (13th Avenue is one) to have a plan, so the City’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Relations funded it with $30,000.

The money pays for Rothstein’s firm, WSB & Associates, Inc. with the help of Community Design Group and the Flood Plain Collective, to conduct meetings and produce a pretty and organized document narrating current conditions and making future recommendations. About a dozen neighbors reviewed a draft at an open house July 29, and a last step is to work on a suggested land use map that the city requires be included.

WSB, by the way, is also handling the small area planning process for Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood.

What’s in the Small Area Plan

Housing: The Steering Committee working on the plan asked that new development be focused on the city-owned parcels at 13th Avenue and Marshall Street NE providing “opportunities for mixed use housing, with sidewalk-oriented commercial on the first floor.” That intersection is already slated for a housing development by Everwood, which will preserve the former Grain Belt office building at 1215 Marshall and the archaeological remains of the Orth Brewery. It’s the land across from it, currently used for parking, that they’re eyeing next, as well as the housing that might backdrop inland from the new memorial park.

Aside from that, the general housing goals are to establish and publicize access to fixup funds for existing property and work to increase affordable housing, particularly live/work space in Sheridan, the area bounded by Washington Street NE, Broadway, the Mississippi River and 18th Avenue for two blocks in from the river, otherwise 17th Avenue NE.

Support for local businesses: New, affordable space combined with housing, encourage a business association to form or an existing association to expand. Better signage and marketing of the shared parking lot by Sheridan school. [see related item]

Transportation and mobility: The most space and specificity in the report covers what to do to make the area more bike and pedestrian friendly, among the recommendations, realigning “skewed” intersections along Broadway between Marshall and University to shorten crossing distance, reduce turning radii and slow vehicles through intersections. The report pointed out several areas that aren’t accessible or aren’t conducive to walking because of obstructions or narrow sidewalks.

Importance of the Arts: SNO, business owners, the City and Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association are encouraged to take roles in using artists’ skills to create more visual identity for the neighborhood; promote art in streetscapes, underutilized spaces and lots; develop a stronger network of artistic professionals; adaptively reuse old buildings; create new cultural events and festivals; and create more opportunities to display art including “long term solutions for permanent gallery space.”

Resident and business owner Bob Sorg called the plan “wise and simple.” He suggested a stronger statement regarding lighting on 13th Avenue and continuing that beyond the current limits. SNO arranged to buy down residents’ assessment for the pedestrian friendly lights in the current area.

Another man who had not been involved to date said, “If I were to have written the plan, it would have come out the same way.” He particularly liked the pedestrian and bike focus, as “Mother Nature is getting out of the oil business.”

Past SNO president Jenny Fortman asked the consultants to change the drawing for the 13th and Marshall parcel to reflect current privately owned business properties remaining, and said a lower scale is what the committee had in mind. (The drawing as of July 29 showed a building almost as tall as the adjacent former brewery.)

The most current draft is available as a link at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/projects/sheridanplan. The SNO board meets at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23 at East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 Second St. NE; the goal is for the final draft to be approved then, and forwarded to the city for approval.