29.5.15

Reading the Highland Villager #131

[A Villager waits for customers on Cleveland Avenue. H/t Patrick.]

[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]  


Headline: More growth, less congestion; Highland Park pins hopes on new traffic patterns at Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on the public meeting that took place about how to plan transportation around the development at the old Ford truck plant. Article includes quote from CM Tolbert: "The Ford Site is not an island." People want development ideas that do not generate traffic. [Cemetery? Housing for people in comas?] A city planner says big box stores are out as an idea. [Phew. Note that bikes and transit are not mentioned in the article for some reason.]


Headline: Support builds for new home design standards; Ward 3 residents push for adoption of some controls
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: City attempts to slow or change "teardown" constructions in the Southwest corner of the city won't happen for another six weeks or so. They will be heard by the Planning Commission, then the City Council. Article includes neighbor quotes about teardowns in Highland. Because the standards will be city-wide [still not sure that's a good idea], many neighborhoods have to look at them and think them over. "Large new homes block sunlight and air ... and alter character of neighborhoods." Article includes quote from neighbor that large new homes "drive up sale price of nearby homes." [Not sure if that's true or not. How do teardowns or lack thereof affect home prices? Same question goes for mixed-use development; see next article.] Best quote from neighbor: "It's starting to look like Woodbury." Article ends with a few quotes against the proposal.


Headline: Council denies attempt to block Cleveland Ave. building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version:  A one-story real estate office will become a four-story mixed-use apartment building with more parking than is required by the city. [The irony of a Edina Realty real estate office being the catalyst for development is not lost on me.]


Headline: Council to consider new Cleveland bike lane; Local businesses request compromise to mitigate loss of off-street parking
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city council will have a hearing on June 3rd about proposed bike lanes for Cleveland, Lexington, and Front. The lanes will not cost the city any money because the County is resurfacing the streets, and all the streets were planned for lanes when the Bike Plan passed earlier this year. Article offers [surprising] balance from local neighborhood groups, who see both sides of the issue. [One side: safety for bicyclists; the other side: we need parking at our doorstep or we'll lose all our presumably very lazy customers.] Article claims [incorrectly] that local bike advocates support a "sharrows compromise" that would keep parking at a few intersections. [Note: this is compeltely wrong. Not sure where the Villager got its information, but it wasn't from bike groups. See a rejoinder from bike advocates here.] "The possibility of saving customer parking was cause for hope for some and skepticism for others." [See also this thing I wrote.] The council will vote on recommendations to the county after the public hearing on June 3rd.


Headline:  Opus to break ground in June on 7 Corners redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A new mixed-use apartment/hotel will be built on West 7th at the site of an old hardware store.


Headline: $290,000 more approved for Riverview Corridor planning
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A study is continuing about transit along the W7th area, but nobody knows what's going to happen. The committee hopes to select a route and mode by "next winter." [No hurry? Sigh. The best idea is a LRT/streetcar down West 7th that goes to the Ford Site.]


Headline: Public financing approved for 1.8-acre West Midway project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A vacant lot on the corner University and Emerald [on the border of the city] will become mixed-use apartments, some affordable. There is a TIF district involved.


Headline: New federal rules on cellular antennas approved by city
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: It's slightly easier to erect a cell phone antenna now. [This is probably Federal meddling at the behest of Verizon or something.]


Headline:  Study recommends better management of downtown parking
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city completed a study of downtown parking which pointed out that Saint Paul is doing almost everything wrong on that front. "The perceived parking problem is not so much a lack of supply as of convenience." Article includes kevetching about the bike loop from CM Thune, but also this sensible quote: "There's a feeling downtown that if we can implement recommendations right away, we should." There are more than 28K parking spots in downtown. Article buries the most important recommendation: setting longer times and higher rates at meters, and controlling placards.  Article includes [head-spinning anecdote]: "One strategy was to raise parking meter rates to the point that motorists would rather use parking ramps or lots. That got a tepid response from City Council members. CM Thune said the city needs to reserve its meters for those needing short-term parking." [Wouldn't raising rates do just that?]  


Headline: Rondo Land Trust gets the go-ahead to plan development of vacant Selby lots
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Long-time vacant lots on Selby Avenue might beg developed into two three-story buildings. The buildings will use a "land-trust model" [which will theoretically keep them affordable].


Headline: Local CIB requests find slim pickings; Committee recommends funding fewer than 50 out of 131 total projects
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Capital Improvement Budget committee ranked a long list of city projects [where every possible kind of project competes with each other, e.g. playgrounds for kids vs. fire station vs. falling down bridge]. Article includes quote from committee member: "The amount of money needed for some of the larger projects handcuffs every other project." There is about $11M to go around. [Saint Paul: Hunger Games!] Lots of [good] ideas were left off the list, including streetscape improvements for West 7th.


Headline: Catholic Charities kicks off $40 million campaign to replace Dorothy Day Center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A downtown homeless shelter is raising money for a new building. [A worthy cause.]

22.5.15

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Nirvana

Driving, I realized, isn’t really difficult; it’s just extremely dangerous. You hit the gas and turn the wheel, and there you are – in possession of a two-ton weapon capable of being pointed at anything you like, at any speed you can go at, just by pressing a pedal a little bit harder. The poor people in the crosswalk – the guy in the tank top striding indifferently forward, the mother yanking at her child’s hand – had no idea of the danger they were in with me behind the wheel! I had no idea of the danger I am in doing the same thing, day after day. Cars are terrifying, and cars are normality itself.

The discrepancy between difficult and danger is our civilization’s signature, from machine guns to atomic bombs. You press a pedal and two tons of metal lurches down the city avenue; you pull at rigger and twenty enemies die; you waggle a button and cities burn. The point of living in a technologically advanced society is that minimal effort can produce maximal results. Making hard things easy is the path to convenience; it is a lot the lever of catastrophe.

-Adam Gopnik, “the Driver’s Seat


[Flowering trees along the bluff in Saint Paul.]


*** CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LINKS! ***




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“Ladies and gentlemen: As you exit please be careful of the gap between the platform and the train. Should you fall through the gap between the platform and the train, you will be captured by the mole people and married off to their pansexual leader, Relf.”

[this]

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http://www.mnartists.org/article/urban-sketcher


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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/118041862309/stumblingoverchaos-caffettos-no-parking


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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/117729729524/jhnsn728-in-case-you-were-wondering


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http://tinyhousetalk.com/small-home-with-a-big-garage-floor-plan/


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[this] 

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http://curbed.com/archives/2015/05/14/dutch-artist-daan-roosegaardes-waterlicht-light-show-simulates-a-submerged-amsterdam.php


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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/117578246529/lightcapturessound-the-lowry-bridge-on-a-sunday


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http://wacso.blogspot.com/2015/04/central-avenue-checklist.html


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http://www.perfectduluthday.com/2015/05/19/duluth-in-stereoview/


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/28/what-you-really-need-to-know-about-baltimore-from-a-reporter-who-lived-there-for-30-years/?tid=sm_fb


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/28/the-most-racist-places-in-america-according-to-google/

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https://twitter.com/jeremyakahn/status/592644218377601024
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http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2015/04/minnesotas_singles_love_to_brag_about_their_cabins.php


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http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/10/numbers-texting-and-driving


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http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2015/05/wealthiest-zip-codes-in-america/


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http://aceee.org/local-policy/city-scorecard


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http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2015/05/oakdale-from-space/


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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/118492934639/minnehaha-falls-by-bradley-gross


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http://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2015/04/how-wall-street-helped-steal-maya-kicaksa-and-other-lands-dakota


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http://100alleys.blogspot.com/2015/05/57-32nd-st-lyndale-ave-south.html


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http://thefunambulist.net/2015/05/11/palestine-the-weaponized-architectureinhabitants-of-gilo-east-jerusalem/


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http://deepseanews.com/2014/05/godzilla/


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http://curbed.com/archives/2015/05/01/this-serra-sculpture-in-the-qatari-desert-is-a-stunner.php

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http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jan/16/supersizing-manhattan-new-yorkers-rage-against-the-dying-of-the-light?CMP=share_btn_tw


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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/26/magazine/how-do-we-protect-new-york-citys-pedestrians.html?_r=1


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http://curbed.com/archives/2015/05/06/the-film-that-launched-americas-debate-about-the-suburbs.php

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http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/05/turn-your-city-into-legos-with-brick-street-view/392723/


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http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2015/05/the-think-tanks/


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http://curbed.com/archives/2015/04/17/twostory-metaphor-becomes-reality-as-kansas-citys-house-of-cards-collapses.php


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http://kottke.org/15/05/minimal-maps


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http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/05/its-never-been-this-easy-to-find-a-great-topographical-map/392435/?utm_source=SFTwitter


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http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/4/20/the-wisdom-of-crowds


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http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/05/03/what_would_it_take_to_rebuild_the_original_penn_station.php


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http://alleynews.org/2015/05/cinema-in-the-cemetery/


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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/119148256629/hclib-houdini-in-minneapolis-1923-on-february


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http://tsutpen.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-huddled-masses-2.html


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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/119468213799/hclib-minneapolis-farmers-markets-past-and


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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/118963925704/hclib-bicycle-safety-lessons-1938-may-is


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7.5.15

Reading the Highland Villager #130

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[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]  
 

 

 

Headline: Six-story Shepard road project get height variance; Neighbors say apartment building is too tall for river site

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: A new building planned for the far southwest edge of town is 18.5’ too tall for its zoning code, but received a variance from the Planning Commission. Neighbors are appealing the variance to the City council on the grounds that it is too close to the river valley to receive a variance for added height [The rationale there being that views of the river valley ought to be preserved, which is an odd concept to me given the huge amounts of development and transformation that have occurred in the river valley generally speaking, for example the airport, the freeway bridges, or the way in which the water level is artificially kept high through the locks and dams in order to maintain barge transportation. What is or is not considered “natural” is entirely artificial.] The proposed building will have 210 apartments and some mixed use components, and is the first part of a larger development on the end of West 7th and Shepard. The site is undergoing some zoning and regulatory changes which would make the proposed height acceptable with a conditional use permit. There are questions about whether the proposed building is mixed-use, if only about 1% of the space is “retail” or “offices.” Strict requirements about what is or is not mixed-use do not currently exist. [That should probably exist. Getting some actual retail in this area would be a nice change, given the existing homogeneity.]

 

Headline: Commission OKs plan for four-story redevelopment in Highland Village [Q: Is ‘Highland Village’ a well-defined geographic concept? Like where does it start and end? If you try to leave does 'Rover' come chase you down?]

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: Plans to transform a building that used to be an [Edina] realty office into a 4-story mixed-use apartment building were approved by the Planning Commission. There will be 109 parking spaces. [More than is required by cit y code, a truly Highland thing to do.] Article includes quote from a commissioner that development like this is “legal” and that “the city has taken a position in its comprehensive plan that it supports greater density on transit corridors such as Cleveland.” [That sounds entirely too reasonable.] There are three petitions in opposition to the building. Quotes from neighbors include: “The project really doesn’t fit into the neighborhood; it’s just not common sense” and “This will erode the quality of life.”

 

Headline: Ford site planning meeting held

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: There will be [was] a meeting abut bike and transit plans for the Ford plant site.

 

TCS: Headline: Study of highway.5/Shepard Road now in motion; possible realignment prompted by traffic, area developments

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: The city had a meeting about a study they are doing that would try to re-direct through traffic along the unpeople’d Shepard Road instead of the [relatively] dense populated West 7th area. CM Tolbert would like to see “a solid public-based study to guide any future decisions.” Nobody knows how much anything would cost, whether it would work, or who would pay for it. [Preliminary results from the study show that West 7th carries a surprisingly small amount of ‘through’ traffic, so that only about 25% or so of the total would be removed if a more direct connection was made to Shepard and 35E. I think most engineers and planners would have estimated a higher amount than that.]

 

Headline: Task forces rank plethora of proejcts seeking CIB dollars

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: [All the things in Saint Paul are pitted against each other in a Darwinian struggle to the death: falling down bridge vs. rec center playground vs. bike path vs. fire station improvements…. FIGHT!]

 

 

Headline: Starbucks proposed for vacant lot at Marshall and Snelling; Coffee shop; S drive-thru lanes disappoint Merriam Park committee members

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: There are plans to build a coffee shop in a vacant lot at a key corner [in an currently almost unwalkable but potentially walkable area]. It will be one story and have drive thru lanes. Article includes quote from neighborhood group: “I hate the idea of a drive-thru,” and “it would be a traffic nightmare.” [See also.] Curb cuts are an issue. The Starbucks would move here from the Snelby corner, where it currently exists. [This is kind of like the way in which the Walgreens is moving across the street downtown.] Article includes some descriptions of how people could drive around with their coffee. [Just park your car and get out of your car and walk in and get your coffee and then walk out and get back in your car with your coffee and drive with your coffee. Free idea: they should build a building that looks like the “freight house” Dunn Brothers, with only 4 parking spaces and 19th century bricks.] Any drive-thru would need a variance and a conditional use permit. [Hm.]

 

 

Headline: Midway Center owner considers smaller-scale redevelopment; High cost of new streets, parking ramps and parks waylays ambitious plan to redevelop all 35 acres

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: The plans to redevelop the [horribly ugly and empty] parking lots and strip malls at Snelling University by set of building a mixed-use buildings and re-integrating the street grid are more epxensive than originally hoped [because of a $40M parking ramp, even though the site right next to two of the region’s largest transit projects] so the property owner is considering only re-developing part of the site. The smaller portion would be where the one-story strip mall with the liquor store is currently. Earlier plans to move a Walgreens [See also the rother moving Walgreens] into an old bank are mysteriously missing. The Met Council is involved because they own a parcel by the freeway.

 

 

Headline: Work begins on Minnehaha in Mpls,

Author: Kevin Driscoll

 

Short short version: [Meanwhile, in some city to the West…] A street [that might have had a protected bike lane but won’t] will be reconstructed in four-block segments. It will have bike lanes. Businesses are worried about construction. [It’s really weird to read a Villager article about bike lanes and street construction and small businesses and parking taking place in a city that actually supports bike lanes, bicycling, and walking. It kind of takes all the sturm und drang out of the experience.]

 

 

Headline: St. Paulites weigh in on new residential design standards; Teardown controversy comes to a head with May 8 public hearing

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: First sentence: “Years of cuts to historic preservation budgest and a lack of attention to the city’s historic resources have set the stage for the current controversy over residential teardowns in St. Paul, according to preservation advocates.” [This is sort of weird to me because I thought teardowns were mostly about economics, and changing tastes in housing styles and sizes. Which preservation budget are they referring to here?] Aritlce is about the proposed design standards that are meant to counteract the “teardown” trend in the southwest part of the city that has seen houses being torn down and replaced with larger houses in nice neighborhoods. The design standards, which would be applied citywide, would control setbacks and height relative to nearby properties, and “reduce the maximum coverage of homes and other structures on a residential lot.” People in neighborhood groups are worried that they don’t understand the implications of the new standards because fo the fast timeline [as am I]. There is a new group that has formed called “Save Our St. Paul Neighborhoods” [or SOSPN]. There is discussion of historic districts and conservation districts. Article includes interesting detail: “Between 1996 and 2005, onlky one St. Paul property – the building that housed the former Coney Island bar and restaurant in downtown – was designated historic.” [Entirely inaccurate to say that the Original Coney island is a “former… bar and restaurant.” They still exist; they are still “open”; I had a hot dog there last year. It’s just that their hours are a bit infrequent…]

 

 

Headline: Council finds Grand Ave. house can no longer be used as student rental

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: A house that was previously rented to students for 10 years will not longer be allowed to be rented to students because the owners did not file paperwork. The house is very close to existing student rental houses. [Students are not a protected class,” so it’s OK to discriminate against them without shame or feeligns of guilt.] Article includes quote: “to me, only the most absentee of absentee landlords can claim ignorance of the law.”  [Oh well, sucks to be those people. Also, it sucks to be a student in Saint Paul paying high rent because of an ordinance that doesn’t really solve the problem of bad behavior. Shouldn’t students be living on Grand Avenue?]

 

 

Headline: St. Paul stiffens sanctions against stores that violate business license

Author: Jane McClure

 

Short short version: Conveince stores who aren’t selling smokes correctly will now be uanlbe to re-open under the license of a family member. [OR something.] The city is struggling to come up with ways to penalize corner stores that break the law and sell smokes to minors. They’re trying to be creative about it.

 

 

Headline: A cup of joe and a community’s trust; Corner Drug’s soda fountain is refurbished in wake of an accident bu the coffee is still just a nickel

Author: James McKenzie

 

Short short version: A [very cool] pharmacy where you can still buy coffee for a nickel that had a car drive into the side of it [off of the very busy and poorly deisgned Mn-DOT road, Snelling Avenue] is up and running again. [See also.] Article includes many charming and nostalgiac details about the history of the business. Article includes the statement: “Computer technology has changed exponentially since the 1980s.”

 

 

Headline: Off the beaten path; West End woman assembles pieces needed to turn an unslightly stretch along I-24E into a thing of beauty

Author: Larry Englund

 

Short short version: A gardener is trying to landscape and improve the [weird and unsightly] 35E bike path along the freeway sound wall by planting trees, perennails, vines, and grasses. Article includes detail: “there were lots of (homeless) encampments.”

 

 

4.5.15

Twin City Message Boards #10

 [Växjö, Sweden.]

 [Somewhere in Sweden.]

 [Växjö, Sweden.]

[Stockholm, Sweden.]

 [Stockholm, Sweden.]

 [Stockholm, Sweden.]

[Turku, Finland.]

[West Bank Campus, Minneapolis.]