28.4.16

Sidewalk Poetry #51

rain on the spiny architecture
of the bridge I trust
more than the blur-edged sunset
garish as a painted backdrop
today it took four minutes
red minutes left
unspooling over and overspent
to be carried over a bridge at 8:41 PM
into the shiny inviolate rain
is to sail on a manageable ocean
is an effortless walk in a quarry of salt
what happened today?
to ride across a wet black bridge
is to forget each item of news
and replace each one
with the spiny architecture
of the bridge


[The Manhattan Bridge at twilight or dawn.]

27.4.16

Twin City Shop Windows #12

[West 7th Street, Saint Paul. Anoka. Northfield.]

 [Location forgotten. Anoka?]

 [Anoka.]

[Anoka.]

[University Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[Linden Hills, Minneapolis.]

[Downtown, Minneapolis.]

[Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.]

Twin Cities Neon #16


[University Avenue, Saint Paul.]


[Location forgotten.]


[Downtown, Saint Paul.]

[Larpenteur Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[Selby Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[Washington Avenue, Minneapolis.]

[West Side, Saint Paul.]

[Mendota Heights.]

26.4.16

Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #97: The Los Angeles / Minneapolis Streetscapes of Purple Rain

To be honest, I was never a huge Prince fan. Even back in the 1990s, after brief pop and rock phases, I was getting into jazz. But that's more on me than on Prince, who, just to be clear, also loved Miles Davis.

But I did love the fact that Prince grew up and lived in Minneapolis. I love the story he told about the city, and how it made our city so much richer and more interesting. I love what he reflected.

In a way,  Prince was to Minneapolis as Garrison Keillor is to Saint Paul, and I know which one of the two I'd rather hang out with! (Though if pressed, I'd probably choose to "have a beer" with Garrison, simply because Prince was a weird Jehovah's Witness teetotaler or something and wouldn't drink a beer anyway.)

(Bonus: the top three Prince stories: Charlie Murphy, Kevin Smith, and Questlove.)

For some reason, I didn't watch Purple Rain until about four years ago, but I was captivated by the lost landscape of the film, the downtown Minneapolis full of streetlife, diversity, and edgy art.

But then I looked at the film again, and realized that almost all of the street scenes in Purple Rain are actually downtown Los Angeles, not downtown Minneapolis. I guess I'm pretty naive.

Here are the screen caps from a post I was going to write on this year ago, and never got around to.







And here's the one exception, obviously:


All in all, downtown Los Angeles does a surprisingly decent job at looking like downtown Minneapolis in the 70s/80s. But today, there's almost nothing left of the landscape that Prince was trying to capture in Purple Rain.

Other than First Avenue, that is.

That's what's sad about watching Purple Rain. The very things that the movie celebrate -- the vibrant street life, the mix of black and white, the gritty charm, the sense of open-ness -- are the very things that city policies have spent decades trying to erase. It's less likely that a fateful Prince + First Avenue intersection could take place in today's downtown, where so much of the socially and cultural porous landscape has been solidified in favor of big business and failed attempts to suburbanize the downtown retail landscape.

Block E is the textbook example of this, the block right next to First Avenue. But there are plenty of other spots in the city where the wrecking ball cleared away the downtown's gritty arts scene in favor of "modern" parking, office, and shopping complexes. And there's a good chance that if Prince and others hadn't made it famous, First Avenue might  have been one of the victims of downtown "progress" too.

Just something to think about as Minneapolis celebrates the life of Prince...

25.4.16

Reading the Highland Villager Op-Ed Extra #10

[Cleveland Ave before picture; dangerous street next to a University.]
Pros and cons of two road projects
By Michael Mischke

Two local road projects -- one all but a done deal and the other just a proposal -- share two common features: the laudatory goal of making the streets safer and the potential to cause serious unintended consequences. Let's examine the pros and cons of each.

Dedicated bike lanes on Cleveland Avenue along the 2.75 mile stretch from Eleanor Avenue in Highland Park to University Avenue in Merriam Park were approved by the St. Paul City Council on March 17. The controversial $362,000 project pitted individual bicyclists and bicycle advocacy groups against local residents and businesses who are concerned about the resulting loss of on-street parking on the narrower stretch of Cleveland north of Randolph Avenue.

In just the most recent battle in the ongoing war between bikes and motor vehicles in St. Paul, the bikes won 5-2 before the City Council. Ramsey County is now expected to give its blessing to the bike lanes. (Cleveland is a county road!)

[This is the only part of the column that annoyed me, the idea that there is a "war" between cars and bikes or that "individual bicyclists and bicycle advocacy groups" were "pitted" against local residents and businesses. 

The reality is the bike plan is part of a much larger movement. For years in Saint Paul there have been people from all over the city working on improving street design, walkability, and bike access for a whole bunch of different reasons including safety, sustainability, livability, personal and public health, and even local business reasons. Highland and Mac-Grove are full of people that want safer streets for bicycling, and there's a lot of local support for better streets and bike lanes that go far beyond the usual bike advocacy suspects. That's one reason that the Council vote was 5-2 in favor of bike lanes, and the Highland District Council vote was 14-0 in favor of the ped medians. 

In my experience, safer streets don't come at the expense of cars. On the contrary, making Snelling safer, and adding bike connections from Highland Village through both Colleges all the way to University Avenue, will improve the  neighborhood in many ways, including making it safer for drivers. Once you stop thinking that convenient parking is the only thing that matters, street design is no longer a zero-sum game.]

There's little doubt that bicycling on Cleveland will be safer and more popular after parking is banned, the bike lanes are striped and the speed limit is reduced from 30 to 25 mph.

There's also little doubt that another north-south designated bike route on the western end of St. Paul is desirable for the growing number of people who are biking for recreational and commuting purposes.

However, the loss of nearly all of the on-street parking for Cleveland Avenue residents and businesses will mean more traffic, and parking congestion on nearby side streets and the real possibility that customers of Cleveland businesses will opt to make their purchases where parking is more convenient and plentiful. There are already 10 resident-only permit parking districts near Cleveland Avenue owing to the presence of St. Thomas and St. Catherine universities. The added parking pressure on streets outside of those districts can be expected to create a push for expanded permit parking districts, thereby compounding the problem.

The Highland District Council has not come up with a plan to construct a series of center medians on Snelling Avenue between Randolph Avenue and Ford Parkway. There too the goal is to create a safer street by slowing down traffic, creating a safe haven for pedestrians crossing the street, and eliminating half of the left turns on to and off of Snelling from and to local side streets.

However, there too the benefits come at a cost beyond the estimated $2.25 million tab for construction. the eight-to-10-food-wide center medians would mean the elimination of nearly of the on-street parking on the east side of Snelling, pushing those vehicles onto local side streets. The elimination of half of the left turns to and from Snellign would force more motorists to use side streets to get where they're going. And access to the parking lots of local businesses would be restricted, further exacerbating parking and traffic congestion in abutting residential areas.

But Snelling serves the parking needs of more than just residents and businesses. The worshipers at three churches along that length of Snelling also use the street for parking, as do the people who attend services at three funeral homes, watch hockey games at the Charles Schulz Highland Arena, and hop buses to the Minnesota state Fair with the satellite shuttle service that operates annually from Gloria Dei Church. Those people too would be forced to find alternative parking elsewhere.

The board of the HDC voted 14-0 on April 7 to recommend going forward with the Snelling medians. The City Council must sign off on the project, as must the Minnesota Department of Transportation because Snelling is a state highway. Construction could begin next year.

Both of these road projects have the potential to improve the quality of life for people living in and traveling through local neighborhoods on these two arterial streets. But they also have the potential to increase parking and traffic in nearby residential areas and adversely affect the business that operate along those streets. A good case can be made that the cons outweigh the pros.

Michael Mischke is the publisher of the Villager.

[Well, I like this editorial because it least Michske lays out the facts in a pretty straightforward way, although his description of the Cleveland Avenue situation differs markedly from my own. The only strange part is the very end of the column, where Michske comes to the conclusion that convenient parking trumps walkability and safety. That's exactly the opposite conclusion that I make.

I think it boils down to a difference in vision for Saint Paul. Michske sees the goal of competing with the suburbs, places (as he says) "where parking is more convenient and plentiful." Presumably Michske's ideal kind of commercial land-use for Saint Paul would be one of the few places where the retail has a distinctly suburban character, like the Midway Shopping Center, the Highland Lunds' strip mall retail area, or maybe the Kowalski's or Trader Joe's stores. All of these buildings place parking front and center, and use a suburban design that values easy parking over walkability, a quality streetscape, or connection to the neighborhood.

Personally, I think the strength of Saint Paul's small businesses comes from creating walkable places without large parking lots in between all the buildings. People don't shop or dine in Saint Paul because its easy to park. They come for the unique neighborhood businesses, the quality public space, and because our streets are beautiful and historic. The more we can entice people out of their cars and onto the sidewalks of Selby, Marshall, Grand, St. Clair, or Cleveland, the more our businesses and communities will thrive. Safer, more walkable, more bikeable streets are a big step in the right direction.

If they are thriving, and as long as parking meters are voted off the island, high-demand areas like Grand or Selby Avenues will always be places where it's rare if you find a parking spot in front of the business. That means that  people will always complain about parking, either because its too expensive or too difficult. The solution isn't to pave more of our city for parking lots, but to create safe and inviting streets that people enjoy. Improving Saint Paul's streets and sidewalks will mean that customers will more gladly walk a few blocks or pay a few bucks. Great streets will make our unique local businesses all the more inviting. That's why, for both these projects, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. In fact, it's no contest.]

http://tcsidewalks.blogspot.com/2016/03/tc-sidewalks-booklets-now-available.html

Reading the Highland Villager #153

[Villagers in the foyer of the downtown Lunds.]
[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. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.]  

Headline: HDC OKs plan to install median on Snelling Avenue
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: If the city somehow gets money from the State to build a median on the Southern end of Snelling Avenue [much like the median next to Macalester, where multiple people have been hit by car drivers while trying to cross the street]. The city would pay 3/5 of the $2M cost, and a State grant would cover the rest. [I think this is the last of the 8-80 money?] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. Article quotes CM Tolbert on Snelling: "It's like a freeway at times." [It's specifically designed to be a freeway, in fact.] The neighborhood group wants 10' medians, but would settle for 8' medians with trees. [Better question is why not do a road diet here? Traffic counts are low enough, then you could add bike lanes or something.] Article discusses "Z-style crosswalks." MnDOT will have to sign off on any changes. Parking bays might be added by the funeral home or churches. Article quotes one neighbor: "I find crossing Snelling to be terrifying." Business owners are worried about access to parking lots. Article quotes owner of the piano store: "I like the idea and its goals; I just think it could cause trouble." [Little known fact: pedestrian medians have been the leading cause of vagrancy and crime in American cities since 1976.]
 

Headline: Sale of Penfield could net city $7.85M
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A downtown mixed-use apartment building that the city developed on its own is being sold for a profit. The money will go to clean up the Snelling-Univeristy site. Years ago when the building was financed using TIF money it was controversial. The TIF district will cease when the building is sold. [Meaning tax revenues will go into the general city coffers. Maybe downtwon density is a winning proposition?]


Headline: Another full summer of road work begins
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Roads require expensive maintenance on a regular basis. Article includes picture of a bicyclist "watching warily for an opportunity to cross Lexington Parkway." [This is highly unusual.] Article lists projects, including the construction of new ADA sidewalk ramps on Cretin between Ford and Summit, which were not installed during the"terrible 20" emergency paving thing a few years ago [but probably should have been]. After complaints from disability groups, the city is finally installing them. [Better late than never.]


Headline: Commission denies Nova Academy's appeal; Modified plan allows four-story apartment building near school
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission voted to allow an apartment building to be built in the Victoria Park area near a school there. The original master plans for the site were very different [because half the site cannot be built on because of unforeseen pollution]. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. [I have heard that the school offers busing only for people living in Saint Paul, but many or most parents drive their kids there.] The school has a strange half-owned parking lot.


Headline: The greening of Central; School's parents raise half a million to transform south end of campus
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: Saint Paul's oldest high school "looks like a prison." A group of people want to make it look less like a prison. Ideas include: an outdoor classroom, a nicer fence, rain gardens, a nicer parking lot entrance. They are raising money to match the rest of the funds. [Fun game to play in the car while traveling: "school or prison"?]


Headline: Garden Theater restoration given six months to get going
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: And old movie theater on West 7th Street that people have been trying to restore for many years is applying for money to maybe restore it before it gets demolished. Article quote a neighbor who saw the film The Blob at the theater. It closed in 1959. [Wow.] The theater "has not parking lot of its own." [I don't understand how people can think this building will have a future if it has no parking lot.] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.


Headline: Thirty-nine projects are wishing on a STAR grant or loan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has a fund where different projects apply for money.  Lots of projects are applying for money.


Headline: Demolition delayed as groups attempt to save old fire station
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to build a hotel [on a block that has long been dilapidated] and to tear down an old fire station that dates to 1871. Article includes quote from developer: I've saved a lot of buildings, but I'm scratching my head about this one." Article quotes neighbor: "this is a neighborhood that values its history and we value our historic structures." [Unless they're being demolished for parking lots?] The building has been used as a warehouse. Demolition has been delayed with a court order.


Headline: Neighborhood groups hold forum on proposed stadium
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Two grassroots neighborhood groups had a meeting about the new soccer stadium and surrounding development. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, noise, and property values.


Headline: Neighborhood meeting set on Linwood School addition
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A arts school on Osceola Avenue might expand. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, and the "scale of the neighborhood".


Headline: Financial adviser eyes Bayard property for office, residence
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A financial advisory might open an office on Bayard. It is zoned residential but has traditionally been mixed-use.


Headline: HPC raises a bottle to the history of brewing on West 7th; Vote returns gigantic beer, billboard-like signs to Schmidt site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A 60-year-old giant beer bottle sign and billboard by the brewery on West 7th Street can stay.Apparently it is a "contributing structure." An anti-billboard group does not like the sign because of its inaccurate beer choices. [See my story on the group.] The neighborhood group had been using the sign to advertise Grain Belt [which is a Minneapolis-now-New Ulm beer and completely inappropriate]. The signs will have to be changed to advertise local businesses. Nobody knows how old the beer bottle is.


Headline: City Council to adopt new regulations governing group homes: But it rejects increasing the minimum distance between sober houses
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city used to have a lot of categories for "congregate living facilities" but is reducing them to just a few. Sober houses in particular will not be required to be farther apart than they already are. Neighbors in Merriam Park are concerned about sober houses, density, traffic, noise, and parking. The City Council voted to keep the zoning changes as it, and not require sober houses to be more spread out. Zoning for these types of housing had not been changed since 1991. [I see both sides of this, and agree that group homes should be spread out through the city. But don't see why people in recovery were singled out.]


Headline: St. Paul seeks grant to address unstable slopes in Lilydale Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is trying to get $4.5M from the state to stabilize bluffs along a park that collapsed in a landslides a few years ago, killing two young people. Article includes some history of the area. Park advocates are sad about the loss of beautiful spaces along the bluffs. There is some debate about how to spend money if they get any money.


[Villager read while listening to Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte.]

20.4.16

Signs of the Times #113


Sorry,
No Bicycles Allowed Inside
(Cyclists are ok though.)

[Door. Downtown, Minneapolis.]


ALMOST DONE
FISHING

[Marquee. Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.]


TWIN CITY SAW
CUSTOMER
PARKING ONLY

[Wall. University Avenue, Saint Paul.]


DO NOT ENTER
FOR
FOODSHELF

[Door. University Avenue, Saint Paul.]


Accept differences. Be kind. Count your
blessings. Dream. Express thanks. Forgive. 
Give freely. Harm no one. Imagine more. 
Jettison anger.  Keep confindences. Love truly.
Master something. Nurture hope. Open your
mind. Pack lightly. Quell rumors. Reciprocate.
Seek wisdom. Touch hearts. Understand. 
Value truth. Win graciously. Xeriscape. Yearn
for peace. Zealously support a worthy cause.

[Fence. Selby Avenue, Saint Paul.]


PACKAGES FOR MARKLE
If no response please leave item
at Mayday Books in the basement-
or at The Hub with notice to me here.

All letters go below, through the
mail slot..

[Door. Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.]


PLEASE
CLOSE THE
DOOR ALL
THE WAY
THANK YOU

[Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.]

19.4.16

Sidewalks and Peprception: A Talk and Walk in Northfield, part of the Northfield Walking Festival April 30th

At the end of the month, on Saturday April 30th, I'm taking part of an exciting month-long "walking and art festival" in Northfield all about the intersection of walking and art.

One of the key ideas at stake in the festival is psychogeography, which is a favorite concept of mine that emerged from out of the French Situationist movement of the 1960s.

(For example, check out the various "sidewalk games" that I've put on this blog, many of which come directly from Phil Smith's great book Mythogeography. Smith himself will be at the festival in May as a visiting artist at Carleton.)

On Saturday the 30th, I'll be down in Northfield giving a talk and leading a walk around the city. Both the talk and the walk will focus on something I call the "spatial perception" of sidewalks. Put simply, it's how sidewalks express the relationship between the walking body and the city, between speed and and observation.

In a way, I'll be sharing sort of an "artist talk", where I'll go into a bit of detail about how I try to move through urban spaces. What tricks can you use to help think about walking in the city? What kinds of things are useful to notice or observe? How can we start to see the built environment in different ways?

I'll be sharing my personal "walking practice" as its evolved over the years. This includes noticing and photographing things like signs, dogs, telephone poles, windows, and doorways. But I'll also be sharing how I think people can develop their own walking practices, why it's important, and pointing out some interesting ways to go about it.

Then we'll go on a 2-3 mile walk around Northfield to see waht we can see, and to experience the non-linearity of place, how the city and sidewalks ebb and flow and flux to create different and evolving urban landscapes in Northfield, a wonderful walking Minnesota town.

I hope you can come!
When in Roam: Sidewalks, Space, and Perception in Northfield
Urban geographer Bill Lindeke discusses sidewalks as urban amenities, followed by guided walk of Northfield's sidewalks.
Saturday, April 30th, 2016
12:00 pm / Weitz 236
Urban geographer and an editor of streets.mn, Bill Lindeke, will offer an on-foot introduction to the wealth of ways sidewalks invite us to explore. Following a brief talk, Lindeke will lead a guided walk of Northfield sidewalks. Lindeke is a specialist in urban and human geography, specifically how urban space creates habit and shapes desire. His research involves how public space works in US cities to create social possibilities, specifically around the push to increase non-motorized transportation. Twin Cities Sidewalks
It's always delightful to get down to Northfield and I'm excited to participate in such august group of pedestrian thinkers.

[The delightful sidewalks of Northfield await.]

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SNELLING-UNIVERSITY DEVELOPMENT AND SOCCER STADIUM

[The place we're talking about.]
There's a "public meeting" tonight co-sponsored by Neighborhoods First, a group I quite like that has spearheaded the efforts to re-think Ayd Mill Road as a pedestrian, park, and bicycle space instead of a half-assed freeway.

To me, re-developing the "superblock" at Snelling and University is the same kind of thing: taking a space for cars and making it a space for people.

But there are lots of unanswered questions like these:



Q: WHERE WILL I GO TO GET DRIVE-THRU FAST FOOD ONCE THE MCDONALDS IS GONE?

I worry about this a lot. If this development happens as planned, soon there will only be the drive-thru at the Taco Bell, Hardees, Wendy's, Arby's, White Castle, Popeye's, and Culver's to get fast food while sitting in my idling car.

(Thankfully there's always the bank McDonalds and the McDonalds two miles to the West.)

[I'd like to get rid of this drive-thru as well.]

Q: WILL IT FINALLY BE SAFE TO CROSS SNELLING AVENUE ON FOOT?

Good god I hope so, but history tells us otherwise.


Q: SOCCER IS DYING YOU GUYS

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world.


Q: WILL THEY BE ABLE TO EXPAND OR IMPROVE THE SNELLING AVENUE SIDEWALKS?

One big tragedy about the situation is that MnDOT just spent millions of dollars reconstructing Snelling Avenue and the I-94 bridge but didn't really figure on safely accommodating lots of pedestrians. Of course, they even came up with a plan to do so full of good ideas.

But, you know, MnDOT.



Q: DO I TRUST BILL MCGUIRE?


[Private park built by Bill McGuire and "given" to the city of Minneapolis.]
About as much as most billionaires.

Which is to say, no. I'm not a fan of the for-profit health care business, for example. But at least he's better than Zygi Wilf? (Note: very low bar.)

I'm also not a fan of privately owned "public" parks. But Gold Medal Park could be worse? It's OK for meeting up for large group bike rides and it's photogenic, even if it is mostly useless as a true public space.

So I don't know. At least he's been coming to meetings and answering questions.

To me, the important variable is the surrounding development, and at first glance, the initial plans are very encouraging

But plans are one thing, and actual construction is another. It would suck if the development didn't actually happen. Getting strip mall owners to redevelop their property is difficult. That's my #1 fear.

[Planned land use.]


Q: WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE BOWLING ALLEY?

I hope it can move into new space, but bowling pin machines are extremely unmovable and the alley has sixteen (!) thirty-two (!!) of them.

[The bowling alley is under here.]



Q: WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE LIQUOR STORE?

It's a good liquor store. It's kind of like Saint Paul's Chicago/Lake Liquors, if Chicago/Lake Liquors had a parking lot that was twenty times larger.

I bet it'll be able to move into a new building if the owners want, though the timing might be tricky. Target sells booze now but I don't shop there if I can help it.


Q: WHAT ABOUT FINANCING?


[Early Metrodome rendering.]
From a simple financing perspective, the Metrodome was the best stadium of all time. But it sucked.

Point being that stadium financing is a terrible thing. I wish there was a blanket ban on public dollars going to fund private sports stadiums. So thanks Obama for that.

Even if there were a ban, it's likely that government would still pay for things near sports stadiums such as roads or other infrastructure (e.g. almost useless pedestrian ramps to light rail platforms heading the wrong direction).

Tax-funded infrastructure is a thing that happens for many developments, from a parasitic Walmart store to a residential cul-de-sac development to the very existence of a thing like a freeway or a transit line (at least, if it's not using a "value capture" financing model). This relationship holds true about a lot of things, and the city would likely be spending millions of dollars building new streets for any development that went into this site. (There were plans on the books years ago.)


[From the already-existing Snelling-University plans for a re-built street grid.]

I respect people who adopt black-and-white attitudes about stadiums, but for me the question is more relative. For example, I think Target Field is really well-designed and just about the best baseball stadium we could have built in Minnesota. I wish it hadn't cost so many tax dollars because I don't like that at all.

(Note: I also wish the Minneapolis Convention Center didn't get big subsidies. And oil companies. And freeway construction and maintenance. And the defense industry. More stuff too.)

Thus the relativity. If Target Field hadn't been built, would there have been tax-paying development on that site? Probably someday. Maybe even today. Would there be as much development in the North Loop? I don't know. It's awfully close to the garbage burner and the city's homeless shelter "LULU" zone. So it's hard to say.

Financing aside, I think Target Field is the best-case scenario for stadiums in the Twin Cities. The Vikings stadium is the worst. Actually, Target Center isn't that great either.

But that's a big caveat. Including financing, you'd have to say that this proposal seems like the best-case scenario. Then I'd rank the regions' stadiums like this: Saints (scale!) > [tied] Gophers football  =  [tied] Wild >  Twins (because of the $$$) > Wolves > Vikings (death star).

Would the Twin Cities be better off if all these stadiums simply had never been built? I have no idea.

Probably maybe?


Q: WILL THERE BE "TEMPORARY" SURFACE PARKING LOTS ON THE SITE WHILE WE WAIT FOR THE PROPOSED MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT?

If so, I hope it's VERY short-term.


Q: WHEN WILL THE RAINBOW FOODS SEE THE WRECKING BALL?

I hear it's the first to go, but it still won't be soon enough.


Q: WILL THERE BE TRAFFIC?

Yes. The corner of Snelling and University will always have lots of car traffic.

Should we keep half of University Avenue as a giant surface parking lot because traffic is bad on Snelling Avenue? Hell No.

Is traffic better or worse with the Green Line than it was before? I think it's about the same. Maybe even a bit lower. Certainly, people drive a bit slower and more safely. That's kind of interesting if you think about it.



Q: WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE DIVE BARS?

[Hot Rods.]
Won't someone think of the dive bars?

I'm thinking about the dive bars. I hope half of them stay around for a long time to come. I really don't want to see the old two-story University Avenue buildings torn down.


Q: WHAT ABOUT NOISE?


Hm. Honestly, a lot of people were worried about noise at the Saints ballpark, but it hasn't proved to be a problem at least not according to my Lowertown friends who have a performance space next to the Farmers' Market. I have heard that soccer stadium designers think very carefully about noise.

You know what noise really sucks? The constant sound of a thousand cars and trucks driving on a freeway or on Snelling Avenue which is pretty much a freeway at least by technical designation. Soccer fans literally sing, which is better to me than the sounds of an engine-braking semi truck. But like I said, I doubt anyone will be able to hear it from very far away.


Q: HOW WILL I BIKE TO THE STADIUM?

Let's say I'm a 22-year-old person living in somewhere to the Southwest in either Minneapolis or Saint Paul, within about a 10-mile radius of the new stadium. Riding a bike would be ideal! Too bad there's no direct way to get there.

Here's the route suggested in a recent city presentation:
[Pascal doesn't connect to Selby. which means you have to ride on Snelling or Hamline, which both suck.]

I think the team and the planners should take this problem very seriously. I doubt they will spend any meaningful money on solving the problem, which would be too bad.

One idea would be a few more Charles Avenue-style bike/ped crossing medians.

Another grander idea would be turning one lane of St. Anthony Avenue into a protected bike lane. Maybe even Concordia, too. Someone suggested that to me a while ago and at least it's intriguing.

Even bigger idea? Ayd Mill Road linear park / bike connection to Pascal Street.

The biggest idea? Greenway connection to Minneapolis.


Q: WILL THERE BE A TIF DISTRICT FOR THE MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT?


We don't know. At least CM Noecker raised the issue. I'm skeptical but open-minded on TIF but would like clarity and transparency about how it's used and the conditions for termination.


Q: WHAT WILL BE THE NON-MOTORIZED MODESHARE FOR SOCCER GAMES?

In Portland, I heard it was 70%. In Ottawa, I heard that they have a unique ticketing/parking system that reduces demand to the point where they didn't build very much on the stadium/development site.

This is what we should be focusing on.


Q: WILL PEOPLE PARK IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD?

Yes, sometimes I'm sure that will happen. People park in lots of neighborhoods. Lots of people thought that when the Green Line was being planned, that the neighborhoods would fill with cars. Has it happened? I don't know. Not much?

Will it be hard to park near your house if you live in Hamline-Midway? Slightly harder maybe.  It depends on where exactly you live. How many cars do you own? How far can you walk while remaining in a good mood?

There will be 12 17 soccer games a year. I think it'll be OK. If it's horrible, there are some quick-fix solutions, though like traffic, the "parking problem" is not going to magically disappear.



Q: WILL THE NEW SKYSCRAPERS BLOT OUT THE SUN?

Hey they're pretty tall! It's kind of mindblowing to see the before-and-after photos.

Here check them out:







The big change reminds me of two or three other neighborhoods, all in Minneapolis, that have been utterly transformed in the last decade or so. I'm thinking of the Mill District, which used to be a sea of surface parking lots and a one-story liquor store and is now a dense mixed-use neighborhood providing thousands of people with homes and lots of tax revenue for the city. For me, the change is one for the better. In 1996, my friend and I used to pay $1 a day to park in a parking lot where the Guthrie is located today. I'm not nostalgic about it.

Stadium Village around the University, and Washington Avenue in particular, is almost unrecognizable compared to 5-6 years ago. It used to be a car-choked death trap with a few middling stores, a car repair place, the Army/Navy recruiter (still there!), brutalist institutional architecture, and unromantic "student houses." Today there are thousands of new units of housing and shiny new retail places (though Big 10 is still my favorite), and the street has become a walking/biking/transit paradise full of people.

You might say the same thing about the many new apartment buildings that have been built along the Midtown Greenway in Uptown. It's a dramatic positive change.

For decades, Snelling and University has been a giant trash-strewn parking lot with a run-down strip mall, a Radio Shack, a few vacant lots, a couple drive-thrus, an underground bowling alley, and a decent liquor store. It's been a terrible place to walk or bike or wait for the #21 to show up. Nearby development like the CVS (or even the Spruce Tree) have left a lot to be desired.

To me, these plans look revolutionary in a good way. It's about time Saint Paul started seeing some dramatic steps forward. Minneapolis has a few examples and Saint Paul has lots of opportunities for similar positive change. Details are important, but let's not lose sight of the big picture in the mind-numbing chaos of a lifetime of parking lots and honking cars.

http://tcsidewalks.blogspot.com/2016/03/tc-sidewalks-booklets-now-available.html