Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


The Green Line is a Sweet Ride – The Problem is Getting There

Dateline: 4:49 pm June 25, 2014 Filed under:

Cruising high above the Mississippi River on my first Green Line light rail ride was something I may never forget. It felt so…right. Some may find it absurd to hear me say it is worth the billion dollars just to ride it across the Mississippi. But think about it – a meaningful transit investment connecting the state’s largest downtown with its largest University (and on to St. Paul!) makes sense, and it only took 150 years and $1 billion to do it. Despite some timing issues, the train ride itself is sweet. The problem lies in getting there. $1 billion later, the Green…

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 High Line (and the Nicollet Mile)

Dateline: 3:33 pm June 4, 2014 Filed under:

Rumor has it James Corner Field, the landscape architecture firm that designed the High Line in New York City, is designing Nicollet Mall. I’ve seen the plans for Nicollet Mall and offered opinions, but figured I needed to see the High Line for myself. My wife and I did just that on a recent trip to New York City. My first impression was how wonderful a little green was. Having some vegetation in a city like New York, with block after block of concrete (I mean, what’s a dog to do?) is wonderful (see below). Plus you get views of the Hudson River…

The Great Stop Sign Experiment

Dateline: 3:48 pm May 21, 2014 Filed under:

An important experiment is going on in my neighborhood. The city of Minneapolis is performing a 30-day trial to test the intersection of 42nd Street and 28th Avenue. They have shut off the traffic signal, put hoods over the lights and installed a temporary four-way stop. The reaction has been mixed, with most criticism from people who observe traffic congestion at rush hour. There has been spirited discussion online at the Standish-Ericsson Facebook page and E-Democracy site. As for changing from a stop light to four-way stop sign scenario, let’s look at the pros and cons (observed, overheard and perceived): PRO – traffic…

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…

#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…

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…

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…