Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Transit-Oriented Development: Quality Over Quantity

Dateline: 3:08 pm November 20, 2014 Filed under:

A colleague of mine (from a more urban city) recently visited. When he arrived, I offered to show him around and he wanted to see transit-oriented development (TOD). Hmm…. I wanted to impress him, but I was stumped. Despite all our attention as a city and region to TODs, I don’t believe we have any great transit villages right off the platform where we could go that would really resonate with him. There’s Nicollet Mall and Target Field Station, but I wanted him to say, “wow, this is great!,” but I didn’t feel those would produce that response. Maybe I have impossibly high standards (maybe I’m just getting old and codgery), or…

A Better Block Indeed! PARKing Day Rocks!

Dateline: 4:28 pm September 24, 2014 Filed under:

Last Saturday some neighbors, local business owners and I put on a Better Block event, and for one glorious day a pretty darn good commercial corner of Minneapolis was made a much better place with trees, an on-street bike rack, a PARKlet, live music, a Ping-Pong table, and most of all, people enjoying themselves in our public space. There were even bubbles. Here is what we did (above). A few rolls of sod, table and chairs, a bookshelf with books and games and bench for reading. Hay bales demarcate the bike rack and flowers to form the edge of the PARKlet. We…

Dreaming of Hennepin/Lyndale Avenue

Dateline: 2:11 pm September 10, 2014 Filed under:

I had the most beautiful dream a couple months ago. In my dream I was strolling through the Loring Park neighborhood in Minneapolis. It was a lovely warm summer evening, and I wandered past the mix of mansions, apartment and commercial buildings and through the park we all know. Then a strange thing happened. In the dream, I emerged from the neighborhood at Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues, but instead of the car dominated, treeless bottleneck of a stroad we know today, Hennepin/Lyndale was instead a lovely, tree-lined boulevard. Running down the middle of the boulevard was a broad median and…

Missing the Point on Transit and Land Use

Dateline: 3:43 pm August 29, 2014 Filed under:

I took exception to a few reader comments in today’s Strib Opinion page. First off, Carol Adelmann Linders of Arden Hills applauds the improved transit hub at the Minnesota State Fair, as well she should. However, her beef are with park-and-rides that are “bursting at the seams.” She calls for parking spaces at park-and-rides that match the number of riders. And who will pay for these additional park-and-ride spaces that are used just 12 days a year? From a perspective of capacity, perhaps the best State Fair park-and-ride locations are shopping malls with excess parking. Or just suck it up…

Better Block, PARKing Day and Cities for People

Dateline: 4:19 pm August 27, 2014 Filed under:

On Saturday September 20th I’m helping put together a Better Block event at the corner of 42nd Street and 28th Avenue. September 20th is also PARKing Day and Max Musicant at the Musicant Group is planning a large PARKing Day event in southwest Minneapolis. Both events are one day, and use public space on sidewalks and streets in a different way to encourage people to come out, mingle, enjoy themselves, lobby for change, and most of all to see and enjoy their city in a new way. Come and join us! Better Block (sometimes called Tactical Urbanism) is a grassroots effort to demonstrate how…

Target Field Station

Dateline: 1:44 pm August 13, 2014 Filed under:

With the emerging debacle of The Yard prominent in the press (Strib and blogosphere), it is natural to overlook the fact that downtown Minneapolis just opened a brand new public space. It is called Target Field Station (formerly The Interchange), and despite Tom Fisher’s review on MinnPost, people actually use it and it is pretty nice. So considering downtown Minneapolis, with its skyway system, failed parks over the years, largely treeless sidewalks, and overall general inability to produce a good downtown park or public space, Target Field Station is a huge victory for the city. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Target Field Station shouldn’t win any awards…

The Answer Won’t Be Found Further on Down the Road

Dateline: 5:42 pm May 7, 2014 Filed under:

Last summer I filled my gas tank on June 30th and didn’t have to fill it again until September. I’ll let that sink in a little. This is the only way I have to explain to my relatives about how my “alternate lifestyle” pays off. By alternate lifestyle, of course, I mean “urbanist.” I figure that in conversations with my extended family, they imagine me aspiring to a crunchy, car-less urban hell, going for joyrides on light rail, owning a bike – it’s all very abstract until I toss in the anecdote about filling my tank so infrequently, and they suddenly snap to attention. And…

Is Mayor Hodges the Wonder Woman of Urbanism?

Dateline: 3:22 pm April 9, 2014 Filed under:

Where’s Wonder Woman, and what will she do about urbanism in Minneapolis? Several recent reviews have appeared in the press regarding Mayor Betsy Hodges’ first 100 days in office. She has been deliberative in hiring key staff positions, preferring instead to build relationships and simply listen. In the Star Tribune’s coverage, it was noted that she has not yet engaged on density and development issues. I look forward to her doing so. Hodges also likes Wonder Woman. I don’t know a lot about Wonder Woman, except that like most superheroes she fights for peace, love and equality. When it comes to density and development issues, I hope Hodges thinks…

More Questions Than Answers in the Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Controversy

Dateline: 3:44 pm March 24, 2014 Filed under:

Last year a family on our street outgrew their home. They liked our street, and our kids were friends, but there were no homes for sale nearby at the time. Faced with choosing between a very disruptive remodel/addition or simply moving, they chose the latter. Their current home is a couple miles away. Luckily for Minneapolis, they found another home in the city, but sadly for us, they no longer live on our street. It crossed my mind that a third option for them was to tear down their home and start over. Is their house a teardown? I guess a…

Nicollet Mall Can Live Up to its Potential

Dateline: 3:33 pm January 29, 2014 Filed under:

If we really are sincere about making Nicollet Mall a premier must-see destination, and one of the most vibrant public spaces in America, a few things must happen. Whether or not we spend $40-plus million to rebuild the street and then more to route a streetcar down the middle, we should completely overhaul the zoning code for buildings fronting Nicollet – we need a form-based code for the buildings and the street. And we should consider tearing down the four skyways that cross Nicollet between 5th Street and 10th Street. Before you shoot a million holes in this idea, hear me…