12.3.06

mpls: Midtown Exchange

The Strib had an article about the Sears building this weekend, featuring this in-depth reportage:

"It is such a tremendous success and is the largest contiguous redevelopment ever accomplished" in the United States, Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff said. He said the original plans called for redeveloping the massive building in stages, the way other Sears buildings around the nation have been redeveloped. But with a commitment from Allina to locate its headquarters in the building and a positive response from the community, the developer, the Ryan Companies, was able to tackle the $189 million project all at once.
[ . . . ]
The project is in the heart of a community that has one of the highest concentrations of poverty and new Americans in Minneapolis. While the Midtown Exchange has clearly been a boon for the neighborhood, rising property values in the area have created challenges for many of those who are being priced out of the housing market or are facing rising property-tax bills.


"The only downside," Schiff said, "is [that] the area has come back so quickly it has given whiplash to the residents who have stuck it out."

I wish local papers would be a little more willing to write about why some area residents don't like massive development projects. Sure, the editorial board has a justifiably big picture view, and is right in pushing their readers to embrace the urbanizing changes underway. But (unlike the City Pages) the Strib hasn't been doing much critical reporting of condo projects. Perhaps the current residents of Lake Street (and critics of some aspects of this project) deserve more than a Gary Schiff sound byte.

That said, I'm super excited about the Sears redevelopment. I drove down Lake Street the other day, past the new bumpouts and streetscaped benches. It looks very good.

Also:

There's a brand new transit center hiding behind the Sears Building, and the 21 now goes off of Lake to pick up passengers over there.

Is it just me, or is the Midtown transit center kind of awkward to get into/out of? Will people actually use it?

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