Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Mainstreet Hopkins is Almost Perfect

Dateline: 8:25 pm March 29, 2017 Filed under:

Last week I met a colleague at Munkabeans Cafe & Coffeehouse on the beautiful Mainstreet in Hopkins, Minnesota. Of all the Main Streets in America, the Hopkins version is unique because they smash the two words together. Mainstreet. And a fine street it is, better than before, having been recently rebuilt and with some new businesses drawing me there. But there is just one problem. You have to apply to cross the street. After my meeting I was keen to visit Mill City Sound, so I set off on the four block walk. As it was bright but brisk, I…

Joe Urban at 10 Years – Grocery Stores, the Election and Good Urbanism

Dateline: 6:48 pm January 6, 2017 Filed under:

I write about cities. I’ve done so for 20 years, having gotten my start by writing a series of articles about urban planning in Madison for the Badger Herald while attending the University of Wisconsin. 2016 marked 10 years since I began writing for this website and working for myself. I’ve written about a wide range of topics in that time. They can all be found here. I’ve also assisted in the task of bringing two children in to the world, bought a boat. But it all comes back to the topic of my first post on this site describing…

My Favorite Place in New York City

Dateline: 1:52 pm March 12, 2015 Filed under:

My favorite place in all of New York City is a front stoop on St. Marks Avenue in Brooklyn. On a vacation last spring, I’d sit on the stoop every morning and sip my coffee, watching the sun come up and the world go by. Alas, we saw and did much on that all too brief vacation, and my wife and I discovered many potential favorite places across the city, but I’ll take the front stoop. Contending for favorite place was the first restaurant we visited: Pork Slope, located along 5th Avenue in the Park Slope neighborhood. The beauty of airbnb is…

Minneapolis Can Salvage the Hiawatha Crosswalk “Improvement” Project

Dateline: 4:03 pm September 3, 2014 Filed under:

The City of Minneapolis can salvage the Hiawatha Crosswalk “Improvement” project. All they have to do is send out a traffic engineer to reprogram the signals so the Walk signals automatically appear. Pedestrians deserve the right to an automatic Walk signal, particularly in a city-designated Pedestrian Overlay Zone near the Blue Line, a nearly $800 million transit investment that is approached on foot by every single rider. Hundreds of pedestrians cross Hiawatha Avenue every day, and not just to access light rail. We deserve automatic Walk signals. An early review of the pedestrian “improvement” project appeared on this site in July. As you can see, the results of the…

Hiawatha Avenue Crosswalk Improvements*

Dateline: 7:41 pm July 2, 2014 Filed under:

The Hiawatha Avenue crosswalk improvements at 38th, 42nd and 46th Streets are largely complete. For a reported cost of $850,000, curb bumpouts have been created in most places to reduce crossing distance, pork chop islands have been enlarged and center refuge islands widened, curb cuts are now ADA compliant, the crosswalk along the south side of 46th Street has been restored, and new crosswalk activation buttons (“beg buttons”) are in the process of being installed. As well, new trees have been planted along both sides and in the median of Hiawatha. I’ve been active for several years with the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood…

#2320Colfax

Dateline: 1:10 am April 25, 2014 Filed under:

Well, here we are. Another contentious City Council vote on a development. Tomorrow the Minneapolis City Council will vote on whether or not to authorize the demolition of a building located at 2320 Colfax Avenue South. Rather, they will be voting to uphold a decision by the Zoning & Planning Committee. Much has been written about this, at streets.mn, the Star Tribune and the Twitter-verse (it has its own hashtag – #2320colfax), even extensive fodder for a Facebook parody site. Kare 11 and Fox Twin Cities also provided TV coverage. There have been candlelight vigils led by Nicole Curtis, the Rehab Addict. One piece of coverage has escaped…

If I Were Mayor…

Dateline: 3:20 pm April 23, 2014 Filed under:

Yesterday I presented at Cuningham Group’s “Urban Currents” series. The theme was “What if I Were Mayor?” Keep in mind the following ideas don’t represent a platform for getting elected, but rather to try and implement once in office (there’s a big difference). So here goes…. If I were mayor, I would: 1. Create a more beautiful, equitable city. As part of that, I’d push the idea that zoning is part of creating beauty, and advocate for both a Form-Based Code and Design Review Commission (to be chosen by developers as parallel alternatives to the existing zoning and the Planning…

Encourage the HPC to Allow Good Urbanism in Minneapolis

Dateline: 12:27 am March 18, 2014 Filed under:

Act now to support: transit-oriented development and good urbanism in Minneapolis more affordable new construction in Uptown Tomorrow, March 18, at 4:30PM the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) is voting on a request to demolish a property at 2320 Colfax Avenue South. There are three things you can do to support Minneapolis accommodating more residents. Attend the HPC meeting AND testify in support of the demolition permit – March 18, 2014, City Hall Room 317 Send an e-mail to the HPC and/or the relevant Ward 10 City Council member, Lisa Bender and staff (see below) Ask your friends to comment, by sharing this on Facebook, through Twitter, and by e-mail…

Nicollet Mall Brings a Final Flourish to Downtown? I Think Not.

Dateline: 6:35 pm March 14, 2014 Filed under:

Today’s Star Tribune commentary by Mayor Hodges and Steve Cramer is misguided at best, and at worst terribly delusional. Don’t believe them when they say $50 million spent on rebuilding Nicollet Mall will provide “downtown that final flourish.” First of all, saying that anything will provide a “final flourish” implies that a city can be somehow complete. That’s impossible. A city cannot be final unless it disappears entirely. Second, as I’ve stated before, great cities have three things: streets that are attractive to walk on, buildings that are nice to walk past and/or in, and people walking on those streets and using those doors. That’s…

Same Old Minneapolis?

Dateline: 7:45 pm March 12, 2014 Filed under:

Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to replace Shaun Murphy? What if we lived in a culture of urbanity in Minneapolis where the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists were addressed in a way that didn’t require the creation of a job with a title like “bicycle and pedestrian coordinator?” After all, Janette Sadik-Kahn and Gabe Klein were simply “transportation commissioners” for New York City and Chicago, respectively, and did more for walking and cycling than has been done in most other cities. To be sure, Shaun Murphy did a commendable job, and will be missed, but how great would our…