Photo of Tom Leader Studio team from an email sent on the Upper Willard-Homewood (U-WHO) listserv.
Earlier today, The RiverFIRST proposal for the Minneapolis Riverfront Design was named as the winner out of four proposals. But in reviewing their video, which can be found here, the real winner is the Hawthorne neighborhood. The video is about eight and a half minutes long, but the first five minutes are dedicated to our side of the Mississippi. Northeast gets a measly 3:30, so there. Maybe we won’t charge a toll for Nordeasters to come across Lowry and visit our spiffy new land bridge.
Oh yes, a land bridge. The big issue that this proposal caught (perhaps the others did too; I haven’t watched all of them yet) is that there is a disconnect between north Minneapolis neighborhoods and the River. Here I was, asking pretty please for maybe a 50-foot strip of a bike path connecting 26th to nearby parkland. And what gets proposed instead? Let’s take dirt from the bottom of the Mississippi and use that to help make a bridge several blocks long that spans Highway 94, expands park land, and connects Hawthorne to the River through walkable venues. I’m blown away here.
There are at least three wins here for my neighborhood the first and obvious one is…
WIN – the land bridge. I can’t say enough about how this could absolutely transform Hawthorne. If you have a chance to buy a house along 26th or between 3rd St and 6th St, you better snatch it up now. Because if this ever gets built, those homes will be among the most sought-after real estate in town. We’ve got down payment assistance too, I might add.
(I already won in my little dispute with Irving Inquisition about whether we could get the Lowry Bridge built with capacity for bike paths, in accordance with the Above the Falls plan.)
WIN! A 26th Avenue bike path that looks a whole lot like a 26th Avenue Greenway proposal.
WIN! This design states that no existing housing needs to be torn down for its implementation. Also, I think the hoop houses referred to in the video are, unfortunately for me, in relation to indoor gardening, not hula hoops.
The RiverFIRST strategy also includes design aspects to draw companies like Coloplast, who will bring employees who may want to relocate to a neighborhood with river access, as well as a training and education center for are residents in need of job opportunities.
Granted, these are just very preliminary designs, and we’ve had great design plans shown to us before that amounted to nothing. Over the long term, I’m hoping to strike the right balance between being excited and cautious. For now though, let’s just focus on how huge of a difference a design proposal like this would make for our neighborhoods.