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Streets.MN by Adam Miller - 3h ago

I think we can all mainly agree that the things that, correctly, cause us the most concern in the world are traffic and parking. Sure, there are other things that are minor issues (little things like war and human suffering), but none really give rise to the same level of existential dread as having to wonder whether your trip in a car will be slightly delayed or whether you may have to look somewhere other than immediately in front of your destination to park. Or worse, you could have to pay!

It is the acute and life-altering nature of these concerns that leads them to be the first response even the smallest of possible changes. Someone wants to build on an empty lot? Those with foresight immediately shout, “what about traffic and parking!”

With that sarcastic mini-rant out of the way, someone wants to build apartments over a grocery store down in our neck of South Minneapolis, on the 4700 block of Cedar Avenue. Neighbors have concerns. Can you guess what they might be?

Before we talk about what the proposal is, let’s first check out the current state of things:

Aerial shot of the 4700 block of Cedar Ave S., via Google Maps

Cedar Avenue is in the middle. The project site is proposed for the center of the block to the east on the right side of the image. What’s there right now? Mostly impervious, paved surface parking, but also a single story grocery store built in 1955. (The creamery and coffee to the south and the restaurant to the north are staying as is.)

Here’s what’s proposed to replace it:

Image from ESG Architects via the city (possibly mangled by me trying to get it in a usable format).

A new grocery store (the one that’s there will be closing) with 130 apartments over it. You can’t directly see it in the image, but behind where it says “Grocery” and on the level above the store is one indoor parking spot for each unit. The bit of the building on the left has enclosed and covered parking on the ground floor for the businesses .

So, about traffic. Cedar is pretty bad. Specifically on this block, traffic is also too fast, especially southbound, where drivers accelerate downhill from 46th street onto a roadway that is too wide and offers next to no side friction. We live quite near it and I hate it and mostly avoid it (unless I’m complaining about the pedestrian conditions over there) if I can.

It also has too many cars (thanks, freeway style connection to the south!).  Per 2016 Hennepin County traffic counts, Cedar had annual average daily traffic of 14,200 cars just a bit to the north at 43rd and 17,300 on the south side of Lake Nokomis. 35W construction has likely upped those numbers as people use our neighborhood street as an alternate route.

So, what will this project add to the traffic count? If I heard the traffic engineer correctly at a community meeting: 75 more cars. I’d wager that if the 35W construction ever ends, it will remove more cars from Cedar than that.

What sort of witchcraft is this then? How could new neighbors not lead to loads of new traffic? Well, I’m not traffic engineer and I don’t actually have much of a clue as to how traffic studies are done, but the somewhat obvious answer is that we’re talking about 130 households who will live above a grocery store, across a parking lot from a liquor store and a pizza restaurant, next door to a creamery and a coffee shop, across the street from another coffee shop, a popcorn shop, a boutique, and (still coming soon I think) dentist, a fancy Italian restaurant, a tailor, and a gas station. In short, there’s a whole lot that people who live there will be able to get without even leaving their block. That’s how you alleviate traffic. You let people live where they don’t need to drive for things.

How about parking? Let me start with an unpopular opinion: there’s way too much parking there right now. I’d wager that the available parking in the area is literally never full. Without even contemplating the evil of parking in front of someone’s house, there’s parking on the street on both sides of Cedar, which gets only sporadic use (more cars parked on Cedar would be a great help in slowing traffic). There’s parking available on both sides of Longfellow, which almost never gets any use. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car parked on the south side of 47th Street (although Google Streetview caught some). If parking was currently an issue, the surrounding street parking would be getting a lot more use than it currently does.

It doesn’t, because, again, the block is mostly surface parking and much of it goes unused. Sure, it gets close to full on weekend evenings when the pizza place is busy, but let me use an anecdote to demonstrate what “close” means: we’ve driven there from our house 2.5 blocks away in three vehicles (six adults and two toddlers). Early evening on a Friday.

If parking was an issue, we’d have walked or consolidated vehicles. We didn’t have to. There’s way more parking than needed for the businesses and there will be plenty when this project is done too.

Oh, some neighbors are also complaining about the height of the project too. It’s 72 feet to the top of the elevator shaft, which is definitely taller than the stuff that’s immediately nearby. We will likely be able to see it from our backyard, especially in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees (we can see the Speedway sign then too).

Maybe I’m just deficient or something, because I do not get where people get their height-judging powers. I do not know what “too tall” means, unless it means that it’s blocking views, shading neighbors or, maybe, dwarfing something significant nearby. This site bounded on one side by literal open space (golf course/park/park works yard) to the east. Nothing to shade or dwarf there. It’s bounded to the north south and west by other commercial properties and their respective parking lots. Nothing to worry about there either. No one’s yard or garden will be shaded. No one’s solar panels will have their light blocked. There’s simply no reason to worry about height here.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least briefly mention climate change. We, as a society, need to drive a lot less. (Frankly, for safety and space efficiency reasons in addition to climate change too). We can’t do that if we continue with our existing patterns of land use. We need to let people live closer to stuff, so they can shop closer to home and get to work without having to drive. We need developments like this.

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C Line Starts June 8

The big news on June 8 is the startup of the C Line BRT between downtown Minneapolis and the Brooklyn Center Transit Center (BCTC) via Penn Avenue N. It will largely replace the Route 19, which ran every 10 minutes and will continue to serve local stops with half-hourly service seven days a week. The C Line will run every 10 minutes and stop about every half mile.

Like the A Line, the C Line will feature off-board fare collection to speed boarding through all doors, large heated waiting shelters with real-time schedule displays and traffic signal priority for buses (though not at every intersection).

Some of the C Line buses are battery powered, a big experiment. The buses are charged up overnight at the garage. During the 8-12 minute layovers at the ends of the line, the bus raises an LRT-like pantograph to take electricity from an overhead power source. The battery is still depleted by the end of the day, but the short recharges extend the bus’s range. The big question is how viable the electric buses will be in cold weather, which reduces battery output. If it works as hoped, you’ll see more EB’s in the future.

Travel time savings range from 11-21 percent, depending on the direction and time of day. For example, BCTC to 6th & Nicollet currently takes 36-39 minutes on Route 19 and will be 29-32 minutes on the C Line. Expect that to get fine-tuned after some real-life operating experience.

Besides being reduced to 30-minute service, Route 19 will lose a pair of low-service branches. The 19Y to 36th & Victory Drive was a rush hour-only remnant of the old all-day Route 7 and is disappearing. The 19H left Penn at Dowling and ended at 42nd & Victory Drive via Dowling, York and 42nd Avenue. It had 30-minute rush hour and 60-minute midday service. Now Route 19 will divert southbound AM and northbound PM rush hour trips via York between Dowling and 42nd, and the rest of the 19H service will disappear.

Future Items of Note

  1. Will the electric buses work, especially in winter?
  2. Off-board fare collection requires transit police to do fare checks on the buses, which means a higher police presence than ever before. Given past community-police tensions, will this lead to confrontations and controversy?
  3. Will low Route 19 ridership cause further trimming? That’s what happened to Route 16 because of the Green Line, which diverted so many passengers from the remaining local bus that the 16 was first reduced from every 20 to every 30 minutes, then shortened from 27th Ave. SE in Minneapolis to Fairview Avenue in St.Paul. The same thing happened with the A Line and the downgraded Route 84 Snelling Avenue local. The 84 was cut back from Rosedale to Midway Parkway. Will Route 19 still have enough passengers to justify running it to BCTC?

The viability of the local bus services that supplement BRT will be an issue to watch as the other arterial BRT’s are implemented.

Other June Service Updates
Because of low ridership, Metro Transit is cutting 15 I-35W express trips that were added on the fringes of the rush hours to offer alternatives during the freeway reconstruction. Also cut was the weekend half-hourly service on Route 535 that serves the I-35W corridor, which makes one wonder about the weekend viability of the Orange Line BRT, which will replace the 535.

Routes 4, 6, 12, 61 and 141 are on long-term detour via Nicollet Mall due to the Hennepin Avenue downtown reconstruction. It was unfortunate that the detour started in the spring but the schedules couldn’t be changed until June 8. Because the Mall is so much slower than Hennepin through downtown, the result has been late buses all day long, which can’t be good for retaining ridership. In the case of Route 6 this was compounded by additional detours in Edina and Uptown. I was on a bus the other day that was running 25 minutes late. Ouch.

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Here’s a lovely bit of data visualization for you, via the Information is Beautiful blog, that shows the CO2 footprint of our society and how it needs to change.

First, the bad news, from this plan from New Internationalist Magazine:

At least in the transportation and housing sector, the authors of this particular data viz chart call for the following goals and policies, to reach zero CO2 by 2050:

By 2030.

Transportation and building changes by 2050.

The plan they lay out is ambitious, and calls for quick action by 2025:

Our zero-carbon scenario requires the global elite (the 20 per cent of global citizens who account for 70 per cent of emissions) to cut the quickest and deepest. Setting aside climate justice concerns, concentrating on US citizens who average 16.4 tonnes CO2 per person, would bring us closer to zero a lot quicker than the people of Niger, who clock up under 0.1 tonne.

In the rich world in particular, zero carbon would usher in a period of huge social change. Energy would be stringently rationed, dedicated to survival and essential activities; we’d go to bed early and rise with the sun. Expect massive disruption in the way food is grown, processed and distributed – more turnips, fewer mangoes on the menu in the UK for starters. Globally, there would be much-reduced private car use, virtually no aviation, haulage or shipping – spelling a dramatic end to material globalization as we know it.

You can check out the whole article here.

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Spring is here, spring is here. Life is Skittles and life is beer.

Among the other signs of spring in Minnesota, we have both river flooding, and scenic sights along Minnesota’s Great River Road. This includes the Apple Blossoms of La Crescent, eagles, birds and other wildlife emerging for the season.

Today’s map features the Great River Road through Minnesota. This is one segment of the National Scenic Byway.

If you are tripping over the coming long weekend, or as the summer continues, consider the sights of the Great River Road along your path.

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Every Monday, I listen to the FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast where editors and reporters dive into the week’s news and trends through a data-driven lens.

On April 8, the group discussed Clare Malone’s fascinating feature story, “A Tale of Two Suburbs,” about how race and class is dividing cities’ political geography.

The podcast discussion focused on future political divides, including homeowner versus renter. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, we see this divide every week: at neighborhood meetings, at zoning and planning meetings, and on the local campaign trail.

Malone’s FiveThirtyEight story describes how the history along both sides of the Cuyahoga River helped to determine current politics in Cleveland. This reminded me of my local Ward 3 in Minneapolis, which is bisected by the Mississippi River — and saw very different politics in the 2017 election on the west side, Downtown, versus the east side, including Northeast and Southeast.

To understand how each candidate campaigned in 2017, it helps to start with the cultural geography of Ward 3.

Taking a walk through today and yesterday

Starting in the 1st Precinct, on the east bank, to the east of I-35W, many student renters are squeezed between student loans and high rent. Moving northwest along the river, the historic neighborhood of Marcy-Holmes has many homeowners who are frustrated with landlords who don’t keep up their properties. Tension exists in the Southeast area among homeowners, landlords and renters. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Marcy-Holmes is $890 per month, according to Rentometer.

High-rises, beer signs, church steeples and bridges: the Nicollet Island-East Bank neighborhood, south end of “Nordeast.” Photo: Author

The 3rd Precinct, which includes Nicollet Island and the Central-Hennepin (CenHen) area, has seen significant new construction of rental apartments, with more being completed after the 2017 election. Historic, luxury homes sit on Park Board land on Nicollet Island. On the east bank are high-rise condos next to low-rise townhomes. One high-rise, The Falls and Pinnacle, built in 1983, has 257 units, and has units for sale ranging from $165,000 for a studio to $400,000 for a three-bedroom. The condo association’s website boasts that residents can “experience ‘Nordeast’ Minneapolis.”

The moniker “Nordeast” refers to the cultural history of the area around the turn of the 20th century, when northern and eastern European immigrants influenced the culture of the area. Some of that remains, in the names of places, the churches, and the delis and restaurants.

In the Nicollet Island-East Bank neighborhood, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,626 per month, according to Rentometer.

My own great-grandfather was one of those immigrants. He served in the last days of the Great War. He put down roots in Northeast and ran a distillery in his attic during prohibition. My grandfather, at grade-school age, operated the still and periodically “tested quality.” The Minneapolis police busted my great-grandfather, but with the help of business connections to a politician-lawyer, he was freed the same day.

“City’s Liquor Law Attacked,” The Minneapolis Star, Tuesday, August 1, 1933.

That moniker of “Nordeast” can be exclusionary, however. In my time door-knocking the neighborhood for candidates, some residents told me they appreciate the community being homogeneous, or white. Some in the 5th and 6th Precincts in Northeast said they wished the Lowry Avenue Bridge to North Minneapolis would stay closed, as it was at that time for renovation.

On the west side of the river, in Downtown, Interstate 94 wraps the neighborhoods in a concrete river, creating an island divided from the neighborhoods on the other sides of the freeway. Downtown has benefited from most of the development dollars invested in the city over the last several years, and new luxury apartments or condos are coming online every few months. The neighborhood associations for the most part have welcomed the new mid-rise and high-rise buildings, although some have griped recently about how one new building on a strip by the Mills Fleet Farm parking garage by U.S. Bank Stadium will block their view of the Downtown skyline.

The rapid pace of development has created an alliance between long-term renters and condo-owners. As long as the development boom continues, rent increases have stayed low — and more retail and dining is opening up. In Downtown East, within an area known as the Mill District, is a new Trader Joe’s, whose private-label staples are cheaper than the Hennepin Avenue Whole Foods or the Lunds & Byerlys across the river in CenHen. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Downtown East is $2,103, according to Rentometer.

On the other side of Hennepin is the North Loop. Different mapping programs label areas differently, but for me the heart of the North Loop are three streets: North First Street, North Second Street and Washington Avenue North from Hennepin Avenue to Plymouth Avenue North. The area is known for its warehouses that have been converted to luxury rentals and condos. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,750, according to Rentometer.

The candidates in 2017

Four major candidates ran for City Council in Minneapolis Ward 3 in 2017: Tim Bildsoe (DFL, not endorsed), Steve Fletcher (DFL, endorsed, who ultimately was elected), Ginger Jentzen (Socialist-Alternative) and Samantha Pree-Stinson (Green). All four had unique bases of support along issue and class lines.

Ginger Jentzen (Socialist-Alternative). Photo: Candidate Twitter

Ginger Jentzen (Socialist-Alternative)

Ginger Jentzen was executive director of the $15 Now group that pushed Minneapolis to adopt a $15 minimum wage. Her well-designed website had a checkbox filled on that issue. Unchecked were policy goals of rent control, inclusionary zoning to build more affordable housing, and taxing the rich to fund mass transit and education. Jentzen went to the heart of the class divide in Ward 3, saying in one of her policy planks that, “from rent hikes to unjust foreclosures, working people and young people are being priced out, while new luxury apartments and condos are affordable only to a few.”

Jentzen’s home page banner, featuring the “Not for sale” slogan. Check it out on the Wayback Machine.

Policy goals, both complete and to-do, from the homepage of Jentzen’s site. Check it out on the Wayback Machine.

Jentzen’s policy prescription to the challenge of high rents included lobbying the state legislature to end preemption against local rent control ordinances, “linkage fees” that operate similar to park dedication fees, but for affordable housing, and building new public housing funded locally by taxes on private developers.

While Jentzen’s campaign positioned itself as a resistance against the Trump administration and its policies, the messaging of the campaign did react to similar sentiments among its base. Jentzen, not unlike Trump, refused to take political contributions from “corporate executives and big developers”, pledging that she was “not for sale,” and also pledged to donate a portion of her council member salary to “building social movements.” Trump also promised to donate his entire salary to charity, and so far has kept that promise.

A clearer national comparison to Jentzen is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The base for his “political revolution” overlaps the base for her own. Jentzen’s local platform planks mirror his, including challenging corporate power and increasing funding for public education.

Jentzen spoke to the struggles of the renter class. Her base of support included University of Minnesota students and those feeling priced out by increasing rents on the east side of the river. In the end, she earned the most first-choice votes, but the precincts where she had pluralities were all on the east side of the river, including “Nordeast,” East Bank and Marcy-Holmes. Her best precinct was closest to the University.

In the November election, Jentzen earned 33.3 percent of first-choice votes but lost the election because Fletcher earned significantly more second- and third-choice votes through the ranked choice process.

Steve Fletcher (DFL, endorsed) Photo: Candidate website.

Steve Fletcher (DFL, endorsed)

Steve Fletcher started his career in technology and community organizing. After a career in technology services, he was executive director of Minnesota 2020, a “progressive, new media, non-partisan think tank” where he wrote against Teach For America and in favor for initiatives that advanced public school teachers from within, such as Illinois’ “Grow Your Own” program. He was also a research consultant for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

In 2010, Fletcher was the founding executive director of MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) and became most well known locally for this work. NOC’s work started in South Minneapolis after the closure of ACORN, but after the 2011 tornado in North Minneapolis, the organization expanded into new neighborhoods.

In 2017, Fletcher ran on a DFL base platform. On affordable housing, he supported increased density of market-rate development, inclusionary zoning to build more affordable units and protecting naturally occurring affordable housing. Unlike Jentzen, he was not in favor of rent control. On transportation, he was in favor of moving the city toward a more “car-free” culture with transportation options that made living without a vehicle possible.

Candidate tweet from the May 6 DFL convention.

On May 6, 2017,

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Streets.MN by Jenny Werness - 5d ago

Every Sunday here at streets.mn our longtime member and Board Secretary, Betsey Buckheit, has been cleverly summarizing the week’s posts. I’m filling in for her this week, and have categorized posts according to the core values of streets.mn: people-centered, future-oriented, justice-driven, and delight-cultivating. Of course, many of our posts fit into multiple categories, or might require categories of their own (like events!). It’s an experiment! 

People-Centered Grieving the Life We Trade Away for Driving by Kyle Constalie features some of life’s most fundamental pleasures, like smelling the blooming lilac trees or watching some cuddling possums. He explores how much of life we miss while we’re driving a car, concluding that we should make more space for people and animals, not cars: “A more alive, more community-minded form of traffic actually deserves the right of way.”

A turtle greeting cyclists from the grass along the Greenway.

Future-Oriented

From John Edwards: Drive-Through Ban Gets Positive Reception at Minneapolis Planning Commission, an ordinance which would align with the city’s 2040 Plan. No changes are proposed to already-existing drive-throughs. 

Predictions on the Future of Mobility by Conrad Zbikowski takes a deeper drive into May 8th’s Chart of the Day. He predicts that the future will: 1. be electric; 2. minimize human labor costs; 3. be won by those who have to raise the least capital. Monte Castleman imagines a future for self-driving electric cars, from “micro” to “full size”  versions, in  A Roster of Potential TaaS Vehicles.  Justice-Driven

Plans for a long-term closure of a critical safe bike/pedestrian route between Minneapolis and Hopkins are examined by Christa Moseng in Share The Pain: SWLRT Related Trail Closure, where she proposes that part of Excelsior Boulevard should be used as a protected bikeway for the duration of the closure. There’s no reason the full brunt of this construction-related impact should fall on the most vulnerable road users: “Causing car drivers to share some of the pain could also motivate project planners to value more highly the burdens being placed on cyclists and other trail users for this planned closure.”

SWLRT Construction’s massive transportation impact

In honor of Mother’s Day, Map Monday illustrates Minnesota Working Moms With Children Under 6. This is based on a report from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and  identifies an acute need for rural Minnesota workers to have access to paid family leave.

Delight-cultivating

Walking All the Streets of East-Central Linden Hills by Max Hailperin

Southern Birdhouse, 4268 Queen Ave. S.

Regular features

Links!

National Links: The Channel Tunnel and Da Vinci’s Ideal City and National Links: Ways to Experience a City from Jeff Wood at The Overhead Wire.

Events!

May Bike to work day + month: Bike to Work Day is Coming!, featuring lots of helpful links to other streets.mn bike to work content

May 21st: Watch Mr. Blandings’ Dream House 5/21, with Discussion After the Film

May 28th: streets.mn Happy Hour at La Doña, May 28th

Event review: streets.mn Greenway Clean-up Follow-Up

streets.mn Greenway cleanup crew

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On Thursday, the Minneapolis Planning Commission was supportive of a proposed ordinance from Council President Lisa Bender that would prohibit new drive-throughs for banks, drugstores, and fast food restaurants (or any other “facility which accommodates automobiles and from which the occupants of the automobiles may make purchases or transact business”).

It’s important to emphasize: if you like your current drive-through options, you can keep them — this would only apply to new construction.

Drive-throughs have been a frequent topic of concern for Minneapolis policymakers in recent years. Planning Commissioner Sam Rockwell, speaking against a proposed McDonald’s drive-through expansion last year, said that achieving city goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions means that “we need to stop investing in car infrastructure.” Drive-throughs are also known for contributing to dangerous, car-centric environments for people on foot.

When reached for comment via tweet, Bender said “We started working on this three years ago or so because of community opposition to new drive-throughs in several locations.”

In 2016, plans for a new Walgreens on a pedestrian-heavy stretch of Hennepin Avenue near Uptown prompted local outcry and the strengthening of rules intended to promote safe, walkable environments. A pedestrian overlay expansion eventually banned drive-throughs in that location, but it was too late to prevent Walgreens from building one.

At Thursday’s meeting, Minneapolis city planner Mei-Ling Smith pointed to the fact that currently only 6 of 23 Minneapolis zoning districts allow new drive-throughs. Four commissioners spoke in support of the change, none against. The commission will vote on the ban at their next meeting, and will ultimately need to be approved by the City Council.

Commissioner Matt Brown said the issue sounds more controversial than it should be, because the city doesn’t actually build very many new drive-throughs. And when they are built, people in the area aren’t excited about them.

Commissioner Alissa Luepke-Pier said the change was more about the future than today: “This sounds dramatic but I doubt people will notice a difference in the streetscape for the next 20 years.”

Drive thru issue is putting Planning Commission Committee of Whole on the TV news. pic.twitter.com/7He4d4njnS

— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) May 16, 2019

Rockwell, who is the city’s most prominent foe of drive-through banking, said in 2015 it’d be no big loss for drive-through fans if Wells Fargo didn’t build another one in Uptown (in the end, they did build it):

“We’ve got a Wells Fargo with many, many drive-through lanes about a mile away at, incidentally another very high-frequency transit intersection, right by Nicollet and Lake Street. So those desperate for a drive-through can scoot up Lake Street a little bit.”

Rockwell's Guide to Drive-Thru Banking - YouTube

According to the planning department staff report: “While a prohibition on new drive-through facilities can be supported using existing comprehensive plan policies, pending policies provide an even more explicit basis for adopting such a regulation.”

The soon-to-be official Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan includes language “prohibiting the establishment of new drive-throughs and gas stations.”

How can you not be optimistic about the future? pic.twitter.com/5tZmY6zI2h

— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) May 15, 2019

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Every day at The Overhead Wire we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list.  At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the DC region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Did Denver Ban Single-Family Housing: Last month, Denver approved Blueprint Denver, a 300-page document detailing future guidance on land use policy. Vincent Carroll of The Denver Post notes that the document is transparent in its quest to curtail single-family neighborhoods with missing middle and infill housing. In “suburban” and “urban edge” neighborhood, it calls for accessory dwelling units and compatible two-unit uses. While the need to increase housing supply across the city is urgent, residents fear the plan could “homogenize” distinct neighborhoods, potentially sparking early development clashes. (Vincent Carroll | Denver Post)

Bike Lanes Need More Than Paint: Several weeks ago, bike advocates nationwide placed red cups that cities demarcated as “bike lanes” but were still generally dangerous for bicyclists. The cups were often smashed or crushed. A recent study found that drivers pass cyclists about 1.25 feet closer when in painted bike lanes than on streets with no bike infrastructure. However, cities are taking steps to building physical barriers between bicyclists and motor vehicles. Cambridge, MA, recently passed a law requiring all streets under construction to add protected bike lanes. In New York and Washington, D.C., similar legislation was introduced this week. (Alissa Walker | Curbed)

5 Ways to Experience Cities Differently: Rob Walker offers ways to engage with the subtleties and nuances of the urban environment. One is to look for ghosts and ruins. “Why hasn’t someone torn that old payphone and hauled it away?” Another is to “get there the hard way.” Walker suggests to go against Google maps and make getting lost an explicit goal. And while you are lost, eat somewhere you usually would not; even without Yelp reviews, Walker suggests taking in a new restaurant atmosphere. His full list of five small yet effective activities aims to help urban travelers fully immerse themselves in cities. Especially in a time where city folk are constantly distracted by their electronic devices, Walker’s suggestions assist in remaining mindful and present in cities. (Rob Walker | The Guardian)

Silicon Valley’s Own Hudson Yards: The developer of New York’s Hudson Yards is looking to build another massive mixed-use complex in Santa Clara, California. The development was actually first announced six years ago but just now got through the review process. When fully built, the project will have 5.4 million square feet of office, 700 hotel rooms, more than 1,600 apartments, and a retail, dining and entertainment district. Along with a 30-acre park, the development is a short distance from public transit and an industrial area being converted into 4,500 housing units. The development is set to open in 2023. (Noah Buhayar | Bloomberg)

Fukuoka, Japan’s Most Innovative City: Fukuoka, long dominated by mega-conglomerates and the unavoidable pull of Tokyo, wants to become Japan’s equivalent to Silicon Valley. Fukuoka is hoping that its image as a compact affordable city will be the force that attracts a young, talented, and educated workforce. In 2014, Japan’s central government approved Mayor Takashima’s request to designate Fukuoka as a “national strategic special zone” for startups, allowing them to cut corporate taxes for new businesses and create a special visa for foreign entrepreneurs. The city is also a site of a new 124-acre smart city and has been rated one of Japan’s most livable cities. (Edd Gent | BBC Future Now)

Quote of the Week

“Even with a decent salary, decent credit, still my options were limited by income. So that got me to thinking: If this is a struggle for me, what is it like for those who are making a little bit over minimum wage, or even those people who are making a decent salary, something like $35,000 to $40,000? The salaries are not keeping up with the rents.”

Ashley Allen in Texas Monthly talking about her struggle finding housing in Houston.

On this week’s podcast, we share a panel from the Shared Mobility Summit in Chicago featuring MassDOT’s Stephanie Pollack, Randy Clarke of Capital Metro, and Sadhu Johnston of Vancouver.

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Many of Linden Hills’ most familiar sights lie close to Lake Harriet and roughly between 39th and 43rd Streets. Certainly that’s true for me as a resident of this area, but it applies even to outsiders who come for the recreational and shopping opportunities. Familiar or not, I was glad to spend a beautiful morning winding an 8.3-mile path through this area in the brief interlude before snow returned. (Photos from the earlier walk through the northern portion of the neighborhood show enough snow for one neighborhood.)

As usual, the route consisted of a main loop (shown in blue) supplemented by spurs (shown in red). The starting and ending point (A and B) for the main loop was the intersection of 43rd Street West and Sheridan and Upton Avenues South. The northwest corner of that intersection houses a 2016 building named “Linden43” with 29 apartments in its upper three stories and commercial space on the ground floor. On the southwest corner is New Gild Jewelers in a 1914 building with second-floor apartments and then, proceeding west on 43rd Street, Zumbro CafeRose Street Patisserie (recessed out of sight), and Settergren Hardware.

4264 Upton Ave. S.

Southwest Corner of 43rd St. W. and Upton Ave. S.

Beyond Linden43 on the north side is a smaller commercial building from 1905 containing Naviya’s Thai Brasserie and a Dunn Brothers Coffee location. And then come two buildings that started out (in 1902 and 1903) as houses but have been converted to occupancy by multiple commercial tenants. When built, they weren’t side by side: the western one was relocated from the other side of Sheridan in 1913.

Former Houses, 2826 and 2822 43rd St. W.

The far side of those former houses is Vincent Avenue, where I turned north. First, though, I temporarily continued into the 2900 block of 43rd Street West. That forward-and-back spur brought me past the Linden Hills Library, a 1931 Tudor-revival gem recognized as a historic landmark.

Linden Hills Library, 2900 43rd St. W.

Because the prior episode of this series focused so heavily on single-family dwellings and duplexes, I planned to generally skip over those without note this time, even though some are just as striking as their northern peers. However, I already made my first three exceptions in the 4100 block of Vincent Avenue South.

Two homeowners on the eastern side of that block seemed particularly solicitous toward my experience as a sidewalk dweller. One colorfully painted their garage door and staircase retaining wall, while the other positioned a bench so as to blur the usual dichotomy between private and public space.

Paintings at 4137 Vincent Ave. S.

Bench at 4105 Vincent Ave. S.

Meanwhile on the western side of that same block, an extra house is tucked behind the corner duplex on higher ground with only a narrow driveway to connect it to Vincent Avenue. This unusual situation is best appreciated with the aid of the plat map and an aerial view.

4100 and 4106 Vincent Ave. S., Looking West Down 41st St. W.

The street grid has a discontinuity at 40th Street, the transition into the Cottage City area. North of there, I continued northward on Upton Avenue, then returned southward on Thomas Avenue. As I entered the 3900 block of Thomas, my eye was drawn to a building shaped so as to maximize windows. Built in 1914 as a four-unit apartment building on three of the narrow Cottage City lots, it now is a five-unit condo.

Thomas Place Condominiums, 3904 Thomas Ave. S.

Upon returning to the 40th Street discontinuity, I jogged ever so slightly westward to continue south on Upton. First, though, I walked an eastward spur to Sheridan, which brought me past another of the area’s historic landmarks, the Chadwick Cottages, a pair of 1902 cottages joined in 1972 to form a larger house.

Chadwick Cottages, 2617 40th St. W.

The 4000 block of Upton has a noteworthy little library, adorned by the contrasting combination of a relief-carved door and the surface decorations on the side panels and scallop-edged gable fascia. A plaque..

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Streets.MN by Beth Evanson Makhoul - 1w ago

If Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, come join us for our first summertime streets.mn Happy Hour of 2019! Fortunately, it looks like the weather will be kinder to us this time around. (Those of you who could make it through almost a foot of snow to attend Happy Hour in February, you are our heroes!)

We’ll meet at La Doña Cerceveria in Minneapolis, beginning at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, May 28. Located in the Harrison neighborhood, it can be a bit tricky to find the beer among the area’s big warehouses and even bigger parking lots, so watch for La Doña’s outdoor fútbol pitches. We’ll stick around til at least 7:30, so swing by whenever works for you.

La Doña stakes claim to being the nation’s first Latino-influenced for-benefit beer company. They’re big on soccer, and they have some excellent beer plus some non-alcoholic selections as well. The night we’ll be there, a food truck and a yoga-beer event will also be taking place. We aren’t affiliated with the yoga, but feel free to bring your mat – though your fellow yogis may not be as interested to hear your thoughts on the Green Line extension or parking minimums as we are.

Mark your calendars, and see you soon!

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