Penn Avenue Community Works project is going to change Penn Avenue, but they’re still figuring out how


The Penn Avenue Community Works project, a collaborative effort between the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and Metro Transit, is developing a plan to create economic revitalization and enhance livability along Penn Avenue. Advisory board members have been soliciting community input over the past few months and are currently in the process of selecting a consultant company to jumpstart the project.

The first phase of the project includes a comprehensive look at the landscape, public facilities and job-impacting businesses that make up Penn Avenue from I-394 to Osseo Road and 49th. This phase is anticipated to run through the end of 2014, and community input will continue to play an important role throughout the decision making process. An official plan of action will not be devised until every major area of this Penn Avenue strip can be assessed, but potential changes under consideration include better accessibility to public transit and public transit alternatives.

A budget of $750,000 has been granted by Hennepin County for use in 2013. A budget for 2014 and beyond is yet to be determined and is dependent on the results gathered from the Penn Avenue inventory. Public forums and requests for public opinion began in April of this year, but it is unclear when the Advisory Committee will be asking for more community feedback. For info go to the Penn Avenue Community Works project homepage,

You can also express your opinions on this project at the Create Place website, Create Place is a community engagement effort headed by famed local photographer Wing Young Huie and Minneapolis-based playwright Ashley Hanson. Huie and Hanson started a series of Community Engagement Strategies along Penn in April, including a “traveling chalkboard.” Reminiscent of Huie’s 2010 University Avenue Project, the traveling chalkboard concept involves photographs of community members and pedestrians along Penn Avenue with a chalkboard displaying their answers to the prompt, “What do you think are the important questions that need to be asked that are essential in order to have the infrastructure of the city reflect the needs and wants of the people in the city? What are your answers to those questions?”