Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Scenes From CNU 22

Dateline: 4:18 pm June 13, 2014 Filed under:

Attending CNU22 in Buffalo was for me a combination of therapy and inspiration. Therapy to simply be around like-minded urbanists for a few days, comparing notes and recovering from the real world. It was also inspiration, both hearing colleagues speak about successful cities around the world and transforming Buffalo itself, even if it was just temporary. Why Buffalo? The City was once one of the prominent cities in the United States. Much has changed, but Buffalo certainly hasn’t given up. They have a new form-based code and a lot of initiatives to move past being just another down-on-its-luck rust belt city. The…

The Yard Part 4 – A Vision for an Active Urban Park

Dateline: 7:01 pm December 17, 2013 Filed under:

The Yard must be an active urban space, regardless of design. During the Park Committee meeting last week, co-chairs David Wilson and Tom Fisher went around the room asking people about their favorite park. Examples given included Hyde Park in London, the High Line in New York and Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. The most common attribute given, and a common denominator, was because these parks were “active.” That said, as the Park Committee moves at lightning speed to come up with a vision and begin fundraising for The Yard, it seems reasonable that the vision be more rooted in how…

Time to Raise Expectations for The Yard – A World Class Downtown Park

Dateline: 7:52 pm December 4, 2013 Filed under:

The Yard is the name of the 3.4-acre open space proposed as part of the redevelopment of five blocks of Star Tribune land adjacent to the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. With all the attention being given to the stadium and secondarily to attracting Wells Fargo as a major office tenant in the project, it is easy to forget the park itself, by far the most important piece of this project. Let’s not lull ourselves in to thinking that a place called “The Yard” can be just a casual place to gather with grass and trees. It has…

Complete the Cincinnati Streetcar

Dateline: 7:29 pm November 20, 2013 Filed under:

If the streetcar project in Cincinnati is indeed cancelled, as newly-elected mayor John Cranley promises, it won’t be the first time that city has cancelled a transit project already under construction. A subway under construction in the 1920s was halted, and the website dedicated to that history is well worth checking out. It should also give pause, considering the notable redevelopment efforts in the area in recent years, and the way in which a permanent, quality transit service could complement the improved urban fabric in Cincinnati. The proposed streetcar route would link Fountain Square in the downtown core, through the Over-the-Rhine district…

Oaks Station Place Should Be a National Model for TOD

Dateline: 6:23 pm November 13, 2013 Filed under:

Oaks Station Place opened late last year next to the 46th Street Station of the Blue Line in Minneapolis. Developed by Oaks Properties, the mixed-use project has 104 market rate apartment units that leased within months of opening. There remains an available retail space and the developer reports interest from a restaurant. Our neighborhood group, SENA, has been involved with this project since inception, and even helped get a $100,000 grant for a really cool public art installation on the plaza. If the project can land a restaurant tenant of some kind, I’ll be satisfied. After all, the whole point of TOD is to have…

ULI Fall Meeting 2013 Dispatch III – ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative

Dateline: 4:54 pm Filed under:

The United States spends nearly 20% of its GDP on healthcare, more than twice as much as typical other first world economies. Scary! Blame the Big Mac if you like, but much of the solution is tied to land use and how the way we live and get around impacts our health. Healthy communities was all the rage at the ULI Fall Meeting, with the release of, what else(!?), 10 Principles for Building Healthy Places and several panel discussions surrounding the ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative. One such panel included developers and foundation presidents from around the country. Perhaps the most…

Chicago’s Walkable Urbanism

Dateline: 11:59 pm November 8, 2013 Filed under:

I’ve always been impressed by Chicago’s urbanism. Yes, the city of broad shoulders has more awesome old buildings designed by renowned architects than most cities have buildings total, but the fabric of the city impresses me the most. Over the years I’ve spent the most time on the city’s north side, and have found block after block and mile after mile to be walkable and interesting. First of all, residential neighborhoods have sidewalks that line up with crosswalks in a continuous path (above). And people walk! Any given residential street may have a mix of bungalows and two-flats There are…

ULI Fall Meeting 2013 Dispatch II – The Changing World, Transportation and Gabe Klein

Dateline: 10:46 pm Filed under:

“You just gotta make s#!t happen,” says Gabe Klein, outgoing Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation, speaking at the ULI Fall Meeting here in Chicago. He was discussing how the owner of his office building didn’t allow employees to bring their bikes in the elevator. He understood it is corporate policy but that doesn’t make it right. He got the building owner to make some changes, but the larger lesson is developers and owners need to be proactive and work to provide facilities to make their buildings more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly. This can include bike parking, showers, even a…

Minnehaha Avenue – Compromise, Frustration and Grudging Acceptance (Maybe I’ll Take My Kids Fishing Instead)

Dateline: 3:40 pm November 1, 2013 Filed under:

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin sent me a pointed email in response to my latest post about Minnehaha Avenue. He was frustrated that I didn’t mention the one bicycle advocate at the September 30 public meeting who spoke up, saying “these will be the best bike lanes in the city.” As well, I failed to mention lane widths will be 11 feet instead of today’s 12, and the numerous bumpouts will make crossing safer for pedestrians. All of these things are well and good. I’m all for reducing lane widths and installing bumpouts. I’m still concerned a nice new street with left turn…

An Urban Review of the New Downtown Whole Foods

Dateline: 1:51 pm October 3, 2013 Filed under:

Walkable urban grocery stores are a critical component of great cities. While Minneapolis has a number of grocery stores in varying degrees of urbanity and walkability, Lunds in northeast Minneapolis set a new standard when it opened a little over five years ago by being located on the ground floor of a mixed-use building and in a very walkable setting. The new Whole Foods store in downtown Minneapolis opened last week. Developed by Ryan Companies and the Excelsior Group, the Whole Foods is at the base of 222 Hennepin Apartments, and overall the project is a big boost to downtown and the North Loop.…