Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Affordable Housing in Minneapolis and Beyond

Dateline: 4:52 pm December 4, 2018 Filed under:

The current debates over the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan and inclusionary housing raise some interesting ideas for consideration about the city and Twin Cities metro area overall. First, more housing at all levels of affordability is critical to the future of the city, not for the sake of density itself but rather the city’s ability to remain remotely livable. Second, a well-calibrated inclusionary housing policy is a workable idea but only a tiny piece of the overall housing picture that needs addressing. And third, it’s up to the metro area, not just the city of Minneapolis, to accommodate more affordable…

Minnesota Didn’t Need Amazon Anyway

Dateline: 4:41 pm November 27, 2018 Filed under:

Kudos to Twin Cities leaders for not offering the kitchen sink to Amazon, as it seems the company had New York and Washington in mind all along. In the time it took for Amazon to decide what city (cities) to build its new HQ2, the Twin Cities added nearly half of the jobs it would have gained from landing Amazon. It does beg the question – what are we doing to attract future employment and talent to the Twin Cities? And do we need Amazon anyway? A quick back-of-the-napkin calculation (I order my napkins and pens from Amazon) reveals the…

Street Pianos Add to City Life

Dateline: 4:36 pm November 8, 2018 Filed under:

Hands-down my favorite part of downtown Minneapolis this past summer was the pianos on Nicollet Avenue. Not necessarily a new idea, to be sure, but I was struck by the talent of seemingly random players and the joy it gave passers-by. Any given morning on my walk from the train to the office I’d pass the piano in the City Center doorway to hear someone pounding out some excellent blues. Most striking was the day I passed a homeless man camped out under his usual spot below a skyway on 7th Street one morning only to find him playing an…

Good Urbanism is Worth the Wait – Valparaiso, Chile

Dateline: 5:22 pm August 22, 2018 Filed under:

Valparaiso, Chile is my new favorite city. Its faded glory is encapsulated by walking the streets and admiring glorious views of the bay while dodging dog poo. Valparaiso gained fortune by becoming an important port for ships rounding Cape Horn. All that changed when the Panama Canal opened and the city slid into decline. Valparaiso’s fortunes have recovered in recent years, and today the city is renowned as a quirky place for public art, famous for its murals, large and small. First proposed in the 1960s when artists, most notably Pablo Neruda, settled in Valparaiso and pushed for art as…

Town Square

Dateline: 4:59 pm March 2, 2018 Filed under:

Everywhere we went on our recent trip to Chile our family could count on one thing: the town square. Up and down Chile, in any weather and any geography, big city and small village, we spent time in and around the town square. Day or night, we found them to be pleasant and active, with programming and informal gathering, something to bring all ages together. In Santiago, the capital of Chile, the Plaza de Armas was full of people one mid afternoon. The square is ringed by lovely old buildings with a distinctly European, particularly Spanish look. Indeed, the European…

The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Dateline: 7:36 pm January 31, 2018 Filed under:

“This is the most beautiful place on earth. “There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less…

If You Can Order Coffee From a Walk-Up Window

Dateline: 6:46 pm January 22, 2018 Filed under:

If you can order a coffee from a window while standing on a sidewalk, you just might be in a great urban place. On a recent trip to Santiago, Chile, I walked out of our AirBnB and just up the sidewalk was a coffee shop with a window facing the sidewalk. The street happened to be Calle Jose Victorino Lastarria in the historic Barrio Lastarria district, but it could have been anywhere. Requirements include a street with slow vehicle traffic, a decent sidewalk, buildings with little or no setback, and a decent amount of pedestrian traffic. Travel the world, and…

747

Dateline: 9:40 pm December 6, 2017 Filed under:

The highlight of watching my son’s soccer game last month was the rare sight of a 747 taking off from the nearby MSP airport. For me, the highlight of CNU in Detroit (DTW) last year was arriving that the terminal to see a 747 parked at the gate, preparing for the long flight to Seoul (ICN). The 747 still stops people short, a combination of stellar industrial design, a symbol of cultural and technological change, and an encapsulation of the wonder of flight. As a kid there were three 747 departures per day out of MSP (didn’t you learn your…

Downtown Minneapolis Salvation

Dateline: 4:20 pm November 16, 2017 Filed under:

Alright, I’ll bite. Nick Magrino’s recent post in the City Pages, One Weird Trick to Fix Downtown Minneapolis, got me thinking. While I’ve advocated for (and been criticized for) skyway removal, my ultimate goal is the same as that of many Minneapolitans, that I just want to see a vibrant downtown Minneapolis street life, with ground floor retail spaces buzzing with activity. I say remove the skyways. Nick Magrino suggests banning skyway level retail. Let’s consider this. Early in my career I was a commercial appraiser, working downtown. One comparable retail space table stands out in my mind all these…

Tom Petty

Dateline: 4:15 pm November 1, 2017 Filed under:

When it comes to music, 1989 is my formative year, hands down. I was 14, years old, discovered The Beatles, learned guitar, started my first band, saw my first concert, smoked my first cigarette, became a vegetarian and grew a mullet (thanks to Paul McCartney for, um, all of these). Eventually bacon obliterated my vegetarianism, the mullet was short-lived, and luckily I had friends who would have laughed if they knew I smoked, so I never made it a habit. I still try to play bass like Paul McCartney. But definitely the most lasting influence from 1989 is Tom Petty’s…