Posts Tagged ‘University Avenue’

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FORESIGHT AND CHANGE

May 7, 2010

Yesterday I read that this is the 10th anniversary of the opening of the OPEN BOOK on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. As it invaded the area known for acres of tailgating parking lots and the old Liquor Depot, many of us in the Minneapolis Riverfront District applauded and supported their efforts – while the general public could not understand why in the world they picked that location. And what we had hoped for happened-it became a success story as the West Bank of our riverfront reinvented itself to what it has become today. Not only has Open Book which houses The Loft, Milkweed Editions and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts flourished despite the many doubters, we now have a whole new bustling neighborhood with Mill City Museum, Mill Ruins Park, The Guthrie Theatre, the MacPhail Center for Music, a myriad of new condominiums, restaurants, merchants, and the wonderful Mill City Farmers Market. The Historic Mill District has, as the Star Tribune indicated yesterday, become a destination.

As I ruminated about how fast this seemed to happen, and the small roles I played in the opening of Mill Ruins Park and the Guthrie Theatre plus oh so many meetings and groundbreakings as work progressed on various new project elements in the neighborhood, I thought back to a morning meeting this week with the owner of Dancers Studio and one of the construction partners, Beret Evenstad, the interior designer of the space itself. As I have focused on the site details, recommended vendors, and getting the word out to the event world, Beret, amidst the myriad of décor details, was able to step back, view the big picture and connected some very important dots in this project.

The new venue for Dancers Studio, opening June 1, sits on the corner of I-94 and Pascal, right at the Midway Shopping Center. As I have thought of the location in terms of easy access, the change in address so it can be more easily found, and curb appeal for the entrance, Beret connected the farsightedness of the McHenrys to lead the way, along with a new Super Target and the Central Corridor Light Rail project to what will become the Renaissance of University Avenue. She immediately zeroed in on the Public Art St. Paul $250,000 Wing Young Huie photo exhibit of a thriving ethically diverse fusion of people and neighborhoods that represents University Avenue today-before the renovation. Elements of this unique public exhibit launched May 1 which can be seen from 280 to the capital, clearly capture the area as a work in progress. Along with investments for the Central Corridor, the renovation will move forward–like the Historic Mill District, and the rebirth of a thriving Lake Street have done over the last decade-because of the foresight and vision of community leaders like the McHenrys who not only see the possibilities, but are willing to invest to get it done and make a difference in this area.

Beret recognized the exhibit as an interesting element for a mid-summer comunity open house at Dancers Studio and is now proceeding getting this broader story of Dancers Studio and the McHenrys told.

Another lesson learned. We as an industry need to be sure we broaden our view and look at each event we do in the context of the world in which it will happen. This project for me, just stepped up a notch, from an exciting launch of a new venue that helps fill a needed size niche in the event world, to a seed that will grow into something much bigger and long needed in our broader metro area. I am proud to be a small cog in this wheel –helping them where I can to make this happen!

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