mpls: Strib Pushes for Action on Nicollet LRT

A few weeks ago the Strib had a fascinating Op-Ed about land around the new (almost-finished) library.

These all seem like good suggestions:

Efforts to develop the city-owned block just north of the library suffered another setback in September when no bidder emerged to place housing above the existing Metro Transit station, which was to have been moved underground. Instead, the Opus Group, owner of two other empty blocks next to the library, proposed a land swap. It would build the sought-after residential towers north of the library if the city would arrange for the bus station to be moved to the old Powers department store site, next to the Nicollet Mall light-rail stop. Opus would get air rights over the station for an office tower to be built when the market improves.

It's an intriguing idea with severe complications.

First, Metro Transit would have to agree to the new bus location. Second, two smaller parcels on the Powers block would have to be acquired for any new underground station to succeed. Third, bus traffic in and out of the station would have to comport to changes now being studied in bus and auto traffic movements downtown.

In addition, the city should require Opus to agree to certain things before any deal is struck, among them:

• To actually build the residential and office towers within a certain time frame, and to develop the block immediately east of the library. The company has been sitting on these properties for decades.

• To include in all of these projects a generous swath of public greening that would, in essence, extend Gateway Park from Washington Avenue, past the library, to the LRT station at 5th Street and Nicollet Mall. It's this linear park that would help give the library the green context it deserves, as well as provide an inviting pedestrian link from riverfront condos to the LRT station and downtown shopping.

If Minneapolis is to capitalize on its downtown housing boom it must greatly upgrade walkways and public spaces. The new library deserves a better setting than it's getting.

It's hard to believe that Opus Group doesn't think the Downtown market is hot enough. It seems to me that it's on fire, kind of like the asteroid coming through the atmosphere in Armageddon...


Driver2165 said...

I would imagine the Met Council wouldn't be bothered by the land swap. They've been open to randomly placed bus stations before (Leamington Ramp). It still fronts the Mall, so I'd have to believe that traffic changes wouldn't have much effect.

They need to build something on those lots. What a waste. I think the Walshington Park idea is brilliant, especially with the Whole Foods complex going up across the street. I'd hope they put enough retail in the block east of the Library. It is the Mall, after all.

Ray Rolfe said...

Darn-it! I downloaded the RFP PDF. I should have bid the job MYSELF!
I know of a great model for an underground transit station with a greenroof park above.

Driver2165 said...