Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


The Lived-In City

Dateline: 4:43 pm September 13, 2016 Filed under:

At dinner last night at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago, my wife and I were trying to find the word to describe why we liked the place so well. Miller’s Pub in Chicago and Murray’s Steakhouse in our own Minneapolis are similar in this regard. Shaw’s is old without being aged, clean without being immaculate and happily humming without being overcrowded. We settled on the term “lived-in.” Shaw’s was a wonderful experience because it felt “lived-in.” Do they feel “lived-in?” This is a very tangible yet subjective measure, and is often missed when discussing development and cities. And so, my view…

Urban Design Review – the New Seward Co-op on 38th Street

Dateline: 4:47 pm September 7, 2016 Filed under:

Earlier on 2016 the Seward Co-op opened its Friendship Store at 38th Street and Clinton Avenue in south Minneapolis. While this new grocery store has received good reviews, and deservedly so, I must chime in to point out a few quibbles I have with its urban design (well, someone has to). Hopefully we can learn from these mistakes, and perhaps there are ways to address these issues in a proactive manner. First off, the doors. Two doors are available for customers. One (shown above) faces west towards the parking lot, has easy-to-access sliding doors typical of grocers, and for all…

Walking in England – Climbing Ravenscar

Dateline: 2:01 pm August 24, 2016 Filed under:

I set off for Ravenscar in the morning, having spent the night in the ultra-quaint English seaside village of Robin Hood’s Bay. I had arrived the previous afternoon at low tide, and wandered amongst the pools and eddys on the expansive beach. In the morning the tide was high and the beach was entirely underwater, and I was eager to set off on my amble along along the Cleveland Way and this amazing stretch of English countryside. Ravenscar is a 600 foot cliff on the edge of the North Sea, two miles southeast of Robin Hood’s Bay and about midway…

US Bank Stadium – A Review

Dateline: 2:27 pm August 11, 2016 Filed under:

If there is a billion dollar view to be had in Minnesota, it is from the concourse above the lower bowl on the east side of the stadium. There I stood last Wednesday, leaning one of those tall tables that line the concourses, beer in hand, gazing across the immaculate grass field toward the downtown Minneapolis skyline. The early evening sun was streaming in the huge west windows, casting long shadows on the soccer pitch, shining on me and several other fans as we excitedly awaited kickoff between Chelsea and A.C. Milan. It was cool to be part of this…

38th Street Station – Public Policy Victory

Dateline: 2:39 pm August 8, 2016 Filed under:

This is the third in a series of posts about development at 38th Street Station. The first presented the overall 38th Street Station vision, and the second looked how pedestrians get to the 38th Street station. We are aware of the City of Minneapolis policy and plan, completed in 2007 in cooperation with local neighborhood groups, for the area around the 38th Street station of the Blue Line, so this post considers how the 38th Street Station plan meets the transit-oriented development (TOD) policy goals of Met Transit. The Metropolitan Council has a Transit Oriented Development Policy with four major…

Detroit Still Exists

Dateline: 8:35 pm July 21, 2016 Filed under:

I spent a few days last month in downtown Detroit at CNU 24. CNU is smart enough to host their annual “congress” in and around the city. We spent not a single moment in a conference center, but rather in beautiful old theaters, bars, parks, pop-up event spaces with food trucks, tables, vendors and Ping-Pong, and informal gathering spots. In other words, out in the city. Between walking to and from my hotel to various conference events, I observed and soaked up quite a bit of downtown life. I have to say, I’m very impressed. Detroit’s public realm and remaining building fabric provide a strong basis for…

Walking to 38th Street Station

Dateline: 1:43 pm June 15, 2016 Filed under:

I’ve lived near the 38th Street station for 12 years, and have observed the many ways people get to and from the station. I have my own personal habit, and follow different paths going to and coming from the train. So, in the spirit of Jane Jacobs, Jan Gehl, PPS and urban nerds everywhere, I sat for a half-hour last month to observe and actually plot on a map how people get to and from the station platform. How we all get to 38th Street Station influences how we plan for development nearby. The results, shown below, are interesting. I printed a black and…

Delivering the TOD Pizza to 38th Street Station

Dateline: 9:46 pm June 1, 2016 Filed under:

Imagine walking to the 38th Street station to catch a Blue Line train and walking along a tree-lined 38th Street, stopping to grab a coffee and having a chat with a neighbor at the plaza. Imagine getting off the train after a Twins game and stopping for a drink at a sidewalk café or picking up some fresh vegetables from a vendor. Imagine this occurring right at the station. The Lander Group 38th Street Station plan envisions all of this, with additional housing and retail options all framed by a vastly improved public realm. I’ve been working with Lander Group for about nine months on the 38th…

Decision Time for Minneapolis Director of Public Works

Dateline: 7:06 pm May 16, 2016 Filed under:

The other day I saw a father and his kid stand at the corner, waiting to cross the street. They had just bought a doughnut at A Baker’s Wife (the best bakery in the city), located at 42nd Street and 28th Avenue in south Minneapolis. Whether they were heading to their car or walking home, crossing the street was required of them, and the light was red so they had to wait. The kid was perhaps three years old, wise enough to know the basics about crossing the street.   What happened next was profoundly sad. Remember how Ralphie feels…

With Denver on the FasTracks, Hoping the Twin Cities Aren’t Derailed

Dateline: 6:29 pm May 9, 2016 Filed under:

Last month Denver opened its long-awaited A Line train service connecting downtown and Denver International Airport. The twenty-three mile service takes thirty-seven minutes and costs nine dollars each way. The important fact that Minneapolis has had downtown to airport train service for 12 years notwithstanding, the opening of Denver’s A Line is symbolic of something much more. The A Line represents more than a decade of political and financial commitment in the Denver region (and the State of Colorado) to building transit infrastructure. Here in the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Legislature’s uncertainty about funding the Green Line extension (SWLRT) represents a potential long-term threat to the…