Posts Tagged ‘Downtown Council’



October 12, 2013

An interesting exercise to visualize what should replace Holidazzle in the STRIB today…

…but after reading it, I’d say those interviewed should keep their “day” job and we ought to stick with letting Leah Wong and the Downtown Council develop their own plan.  At least there is concrete evidence in reading their 2025 Vision for Minneapolis that they are looking forward, not backward…or askew!

Tom Fisher’s idea to “let the community” participate in generating ideas was the most viable and on target as it reflects exactly what the city has been doing over the last  few years, as it has concentrated on creative city and place making.  Otherwise, the STRIB and the answers seem to have fallen into all the old traps.

 All interviewed focused on the Nicollet Mall as it exists today -except for one chap who thinks it “goes all the way to the river” when in today’s world, It ENDS at Washington Avenue and the beautiful building housing ING.

Interesting that within the STRIB it appears folks don’t seem to be talking to each other…. They recently featured not only the efforts to re-invent Nicollet Mall including the three finalists and the winning design team; they have featured the move to recognize and improve the Cultural Corridor from Nicollet to First Avenue; they have even alluded to other projects in the works from the Gateway to the Hennepin Underpass and the Walker, the redesign of Washington Avenue as well as various other Creative Placemaking efforts.  And yet, this article reads like a vision out of 1950! In short, we are in the process of re-inventing Nicollet Mall, folks, so you are mostly on the wrong track2.  All focused on developing a new plan probably with another “shelf life” of twenty years that totally disregards a changing demographic of the Minneapolis population that focuses only on old white man ideas.

Many focused on a retail world long since gone from Nicollet Mall instead of Nicollet Mall that has emerged as a business, cultural and residential center of today.

Dean Phillips’ idea for a Loring Park “Tivoli Gardens” may be worth considering as a stand- alone but hopefully stands for a “type” description and not a desire to copy an idea.  Perhaps his thoughts could be expanded to support the existing visions of creative city making in Mpls. that connect Loring/Sculpture Garden and address that dreary underpass    

 “Flooding” Nicollet Mall might have some repercussions to downtown businesses if the compacted, crowded utility lines underneath were accidently “flooded” along the way…not to say a rink is totally unreasonable – rinks in the Gateway,  Loring Park, Peavey or at the new gathering place at the south end of downtown Nicollet Mall could be viable.

 But the inclusion of Paul Ridgeway as the one expert in events? In case you all have missed it, we have many modern creatives in this town, doing a lot of experiential events – both large and small, and more than a few of them are gaining international fame and acclaim.  Ridgeway, on the other hand  threw in the buzzword “interactive” and recycled a pretty old idea.  Not to say a nostalgic experience from our childhood 50 years ago would not be appealing but….


Not one of these ideas capitalized on engaging interactive things we are all experimenting with in our daily lives and in events in the 21st century; nor do these ideas tie or expand  anything the city is in the midst of today.  Nor do they  captures Minneapolis of the future.  

All this to say, my faith is in Leah Wong and the Downtown Council-not in those interviewed today.






May 31, 2012

Yesterday, as I walked the three blocks toward the Hennepin County Library to a seminar by MPRB, DID and the Downtown Council entitled “What’s Up with the Downtown Parks”, I realized I LIVE in a downtown park.  Fortunately, I had planned some extra time at the library to check out a couple books, because I started taking pictures-40 of them before I returned home!

Just outside my door, I enter the pedestrian /bike only portion of 2nd Street and walk under a canopy of trees that stretches from Marquette to Hennepin Avenue.  On either side, I am surrounded by well-kept wrought iron fences – which reveal the grand “backyard” of the Towers Condominium on one side, and their tennis courts on the other.   

At the other end, I emerge from the trees into the small Gateway Park –it’s dancing fountain  awakened from its winter sleep, and ready for its light show when the sun goes down.  Across the street, is a little-known and well-hidden great park at the Federal Reserve that connects to the Central Riverfront, but no time for that today. To the left, I pass the Nice Ride Station and head up the steps that lead me through the ING portico and down again to Nicollet Avenue. 

Across the street, is the Cancer Survivor Park. Of course, I pass it often, but have never explored it, so with time to spare, I walked through the grounds.  WOW!  I sat a few minutes on a bench tucked among the dense white birch trees, and watched the guys tossing footballs on the groomed lawn, then returned to the sidewalk along Nicollet to travel between the waterfall and the MPRB boulevard parks filled with poetry that reflected Nicollet Ave memories and dreams for the future-written by poets 3  to over 65 years old.  Yes, I have often walked by; but no, I have never taken the time to read the inspiring messages before yesterday. 

I was so engrossed, I almost missed the eyesore parking lot /bus terminal just north of the library building.  Perhaps because I know it is being considered as a site for the new expanded GATEWAY, and is part of my own Plan-it Hennepin vision, it no longer bothers me quite so much….instead when I look at it, I see my dream of an inter-cultural green gathering place that welcomes  residents, business, visitors and new immigrant populations. 

So with that, I walked into the Library, dropped off a couple books I just finished and then headed upstairs to hear about the greening of downtown Minneapolis and the planned updates and enhancements to Nicollet Mall, Loring Park, and other downtown parks along the way, as well as the status of the WaterWorks Park that will close the West River Road gap on the Central River Front.

Yes, as citizens of Mpls, we should be ashamed of the brown donut hole of downtown that is seen in aerial views of the city-surrounded by the green of a world-class park system focused on the lakes.  And for me personally, after rediscovering the Central River Front 25 years ago, it was encouraging to hear that the city has grown to understand that indeed, “ a RIVER runs through us”.

Returning home after the meeting, I came down Marquette between the towering skyscrapers, but even then, I detoured through the well-kept  grounds of 100 Washington Avenue that borders on my own “yard” at the Churchill. 

As I walked, I realized I had a pretty impressive FRONT YARD, but goodness, think of my BACKYARD!  I border on a 72-mile long National Park – the Mississippi River!

The river has been throwing a delayed “spring tantrum” this week.  The locks have even been closed to all traffic because of the turbulence. With little snow melt in April, we didn’t get quite the show we usually do, but this week, with all the May rain, it has been spectacular! Instead of budding trees and brown grass of past April shows, this year, the scene of the rough, constantly rolling river carpeted with whitecaps is framed by fully-leafed trees and a blanket of green on the ground.   No April walkers wrapped in coats and scarves shiver on the Stone Arch Bridge; instead smiling folks- occasionally feeling the cloud of spray hovering over the raging waters below-are enjoying the Power of the Falls! 

And the best-kept secret of the Central Riverfront and its Heritage Trail –the falls on the East Channel, peaking out among the greenery at the down river side of the Power Plant- is just amazing! In fact, I think it warrants my occasional use of the lower trail through Pillsbury Park to get a closer view– maybe an early morning walk tomorrow.

How fortunate I am to live where I do!

(The picture below is the “gentle” spillway, north of the Third Avenue Bridge-incredible!)