Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Can Minneapolis Finally Pull off a High-Quality TOD?

Dateline: 2:51 pm April 2, 2014 Filed under:

Can Minneapolis finally pull off a high-quality transit-oriented development (TOD) project? Yes, with a little luck, a lot of disparate interests coming to a common agreement, and likely some creative financing. Development plans at the Midtown Farmers Market site in Minneapolis appear to be revived. Included in the multi-phase plan are housing, offices, retail, and perhaps most importantly, a public square that will serve as home for the Midtown Farmers Market. However, the plan is more complicated than ever, so getting this built won’t be easy. This Thursday, April 3 at 6PM the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization will host a meeting so the public can…

West River Commons Has Got it Going On

Dateline: 2:11 pm March 26, 2014 Filed under:

In a recent streets.mn post, one commenter was accused by another of being paid by Michael Lander and loving Michael Lander. Allow me to show you why I believe we need more projects by developers like Michael Lander. Like it or not, Minneapolis, development is happening, and we need to encourage more talented developers who have an eye for creating or renovating a building with sensitivity to its surroundings, who place value on a building’s relationship to the street. We need more developers like Michael Lander and we need to make their job easier. So let’s take a look at a project that, quite deservedly, is…

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…

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…

Eastern Market in Washington D.C. – The Art of Walkability

Dateline: 4:56 pm February 26, 2014 Filed under:

Exactly what do we mean when we say crazy stuff like “center of gravity,” “critical mass” and “transit village” when describing whether a neighborhood or transit station area is successful? Good question. I said those things last week in Eric Roper’s insightful Star Tribune piece about the progress of development around the Lake Street station in Minneapolis. Most urbanists know our little code words; we nod and wink about good urbanity, but what do we mean? Well, I guess it boils down to “would you want to take a walk there?” and “would you want to live there?” Setting aside the complicated…

A Better Nicollet Mall – More Retail Frontage

Dateline: 3:50 pm February 12, 2014 Filed under:

What do the great streets that Nicollet Mall aspires to become have in common? Do they all have benches? Do they all have trees? Are they all vehicle free? Do they all have shade trees? Do they all have a playground? Are they all major regional shopping streets? No. One thing they all have in common is plenty of room on the sidewalk for pedestrians; that is a given. Interestingly, the other thing all great streets seem to share is something not even on the street itself but rather the buildings; they all relate well to the street. There are…

Kare 11 Covers the Nicollet Mall Skyway “Debate”

Dateline: 3:55 pm February 5, 2014 Filed under:

Kare 11 interviewed me yesterday about my elegant idea to remove one downtown Minneapolis skyway per year until they are gone, at which point many of us will be long gone from this world but our children and grandchildren will thank us for leaving them a Minneapolis with more vibrant streets. You can watch the video at Kare 11 here and the story on the Kare 11 website here. Also featured in the story and video is David Frank, Director of Transit Oriented Development for the City of Minneapolis. Never fear, Minneapolis! I don’t think this idea has much traction, but I do hope…

Minnesota Public Radio is Interested in A Better Nicollet Mall

Dateline: 8:10 pm February 3, 2014 Filed under:

I was interviewed this morning about my latest post outlining how Nicollet Mall can live up to its billing as one of the most vibrant public places in America. As well, it was crossposted at streets.mn, picked up by the Downtown Journal, MinnPost and MPR, the latter of which led to interest in the interview. Takeaways from the interview are these: Even on the nicest days, when Nicollet Mall draws a crowd, thousands of people are still in the skyways and never set foot on a downtown street. Whereas skyways are comfortable on the coldest days, they take people off the sidewalks every day. Great cities…