Category Archives: Uncategorized

$70M North Loop Proposal Features More Green Space, Parking

The following item was broadcast on WCCO Radio on March 13, 2015.

$70M North Loop Proposal Features More Green Space, Parking

It’s one of the most booming neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Now another new development in the North Loop is being proposed.

Two things that make this approximately $70 million project different: parking and a big park.

Both United Properties Inc. and Greco Development have been responsible for nearly a dozen projects in the North Loop area already.

United Properties has been responsible for places like: Freehouse, Caribou Coffee next to Target Field and Historic Ford Center, just to name a few. As for Greco Development, this would be their sixth project in the neighborhood.

United Properties is currently in the works to acquire the third parcel of the project. The renderings of the development show a new landscape set to cover three blocks between North 3rd Street, North 8th Avenue and Washington Avenue. The centerpiece of this joint project: much needed green space for neighborhood filled with pets and even strollers.

(credit: Greco Development /ESG Architects Inc.)

(credit: Greco Development /ESG Architects Inc.)

“We started in this neighborhood in 1996 with a project called Riverside Condominiums,” President of Greco Development, Arnie Gregory, said.

Gregory has seen the transformation of this Minneapolis neighborhood first hand. His two latest rental properties along Washington Avenue, including Elseware House, have currently reached max capacity.

It’s not just apartments, but condos too. Sotheby’s International Realty says condos are also going fast.

“The North Loop and Mill District are the two most in demand neighborhoods,” Josh Neaumann, Realtor at Sotheby’s International Realty, said. “If there’s a good unit that comes on — anything with a good view, it’s going to be sold that same day.”

One example of just how popular living close to the river has become: Neumann said on the newer properties in the Mill District — Stonebridge Lofts — is already at 99 percent occupancy.

“There’s not enough inventory, we could use more developers to come in and build more product,” Neumann said.

With all that demand, vehicles have to park somewhere.

“The neighborhood is starved for public parking,” said Gregory.

That’s exactly why his company, Greco Development, is hoping to break ground on a 330-stall public parking ramp in September.

If the joint development with United Properties is approved by the Minneapolis City Council, it will include: a 10-story rental building and a restaurant with room for a large patio space.

(credit: Greco Development /ESG Architects Inc.)

(credit: Greco Development /ESG Architects Inc.)

So, how about that view? There will be a park covering two city blocks.

“We envision having some water features, some paver stone walkways, a lot of green grass and irrigation and trees,” Gregory said.

Gregory calls the project a game changer. It’s expected to be presented to a neighborhood advisory board Wednesday, March 18.

“What we’re seeing is the core of downtown shifting closer to the river front,” Minneapolis City Councilman, Ward 3, Jacob Frey, said. “The more green space the developer is able to propose, they’re far more likely to punch this thing through the process at city hall.”

As for the park, it’s expected to be right around 20,000 square feet. If the development is approved by the city and park board the entire project is expected to be complete by the summer of 2017.

Understanding on SWLRT Kenilworth Channel Crossing Reached Between Metropolitan Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The following press release was issued on February 27, 2015 by the MPRB.

 Understanding on SWLRT Kenilworth Channel Crossing Reached Between Metropolitan Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Liz Wielinski announced today that the two agencies reached an understanding on the Southwest Light Rail Transit (Green Line Extension) crossing of the Kenilworth Channel.

With its engineering studies complete, Park Board staff and legal counsel are recommending to Park Board Commissioners support of a light rail transit bridge over the channel.  The agencies have an agreed upon memorandum of understanding (MOU) that provides for a more direct Park Board role in the design of the proposed bridges over the channel and earlier involvement in any light rail transit project to address impacts to park land and park resources owned by the Park Board.
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Minneapolis Parks Announces New Deputy Superintendent

The following press release was issued on January 7, 2015 by the MPRB.
Minneapolis Parks Announces New Deputy Superintendent  

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) welcomes Jennifer Ringold as the new Deputy Superintendent.


The Deputy Superintendent position leads and manages the internal service departments and coordinates and facilities improved performance for the various functions and activities for the Park Board. The Deputy Superintendent provides broad leadership aimed at assuring fiscal integrity and programming that is responsive to a diverse community, and maintaining extraordinary high quality standards for the nationally recognized park system.

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What the Downtown East Lawsuit Means

The following item was posted on Park Watch on December 30, 2013 following Judge Dickstein’s ruling on the Downtown East Park:

_________________________________________________________

What the Downtown East Lawsuit Means

THE CRITICAL OUTCOME OF THE OSTROW, WOODRUFF, COHEN LAWSUIT WAS CLARIFICATION OF WHO CAN DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN DOWNTOWN EAST PARK. BY CHARTER, IT IS THE MPRB.

During the Court Proceedings on December 20, 2013, the city claimed that “The Yard” was a “square” and not a “park.” Therefore the city would have jurisdiction over the “The Yard.”

But MPRB Attorney Brian Rice stated that “If it looks like a park, acts like a park and smells like a park, it should be treated like a park.” And the judge did agree with this assessment that it is a park.

In his ruling, Judge Mel Dickstein found that the council has the authority to buy the land for the park in the Downtown East project, but the city charter gives the Park Board and not the city the authority to run parks.

He also said, “The city must eventually turn the land over to the MPRB.”

His concluding statement states that,” If the City continues to work with the Park Board, and the Park Board eventually takes over operation and control of the Downtown East Park, there is no apparent reason for the Court to intercede—only time will tell whether Plaintiffs or the Park Board have good reason to seek injunctive relief..” _____________________________________

So to sum it all up:

The property called the Downtown East Project can be purchased by the city, but the city must eventually turn the land over to the Park Board because the city can not develop or maintain a park and the Downtown East Project is intended to be a park.

Here is the link to Judge Dickstein’s December 20, 2013, 12-page Ruling on the Downtown East Park:

https://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/192779165?access_key=key-1u0nyjfrn5w2pz7e9y32&allow_share=true&escape=false&view_mode=scroll

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch
www.mplsparkwatch.org

Vikings stadium funding plan should be formally reviewed

The following guest commentary by Former Governor Arnie Carlson and Former City Council Member Paul Ostrow was published in the September 7, 2014 issue of the Star Tribune.

Vikings stadium funding plan should be formally reviewed

2014_09_09_stadium_image

Can we make lemonade out of a lemon?

Article by: Arne Carlson and Paul Ostrow

All too often, the human tendency is to compound one big mistake with a series of additional mistakes in the hope that somehow the results will improve. This appears to be the case with the Vikings stadium.

Minnesota has considerable experience in putting together partnerships involving government and the private/nonprofit sectors. This includes not only the arts but sports teams as well. We do this because it is part of our quality of life.

The most recent example involved the Twins stadium. Regardless of one’s philosophical views, we generally agree that the process was open, well-understood by the public and professionally managed. Sadly, the opposite is true with the Vikings stadium. It has been plagued by a high degree of secrecy, too little professional planning, a lack of due diligence and financial analysis, and an overdose of misleading propaganda. The bottom line is that the sizzle of the project should not blind us to the financial realities.

It is important to formally review, and potentially reopen, the current financial arrangement.

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Minneapolis park system tops in nation

The following report was posted on KARE 11’s website on May 29, 2014.

Minneapolis park system tops in nation

2014_05_31_3_photo_KARE

(Photo: KARE)

Many residents of Minneapolis will tell you that the vast park system is the crown jewel of the city.

Well, the folks at The Trust for Public Land will back that up. The nonprofit organization’s 3rd annual ParkScore® index gave Minneapolis a perfect “5-park bench” rating, naming the Mini-Apple’s park system as the country’s best for the second straight year. New York, Boston, Portland, and San Francisco round out the top five.

“We’re thrilled to receive this prestigious honor from The Trust for Public Land a second time,” said Jayne Miller, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.. “When residents voted for an independent Park Board in 1883, they most likely didn’t envision a park system that would grow to 6,790 acres of parkland serving more than 21 million visits each year.”

The Trust for Public Land ParkScores are based equally on three factors: Park access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (approximately ½-mile); Park size, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and Services and investment, which combines the number of playgrounds per 10,000 city residents and per capita park spending. In addition to the national ranking, each city receives a “park bench” rating on a scale of zero to five.

With 94 percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park, Minneapolis received especially high marks for park access. The city’s strong parks budget also boosted its ParkScore rating. Second-place finisher New York fared slightly better on park access, with 97 percent of residents living with within a 10-minute walk of a park. However, New York was hurt by its low median park size, just 1.1 acres compared to Minneapolis’ 7.1-acre median.

According to The Trust for Public Land, the 10 highest-ranking city park systems in the United States are:

1. Minneapolis 5.0 park benches
2. New York 4.5 park benches
3. Boston (tie) 4.0 park benches
3. Portland (tie) 4.0 park benches
3. San Francisco (tie) 4.0 park benches
6. Washington, DC 4.0 park benches
7. Denver (tie) 4.0 park benches
7. Sacramento (tie) 4.0 park benches
9. San Diego 4.0 park benches
10. Virginia Beach (tie) 4.0 park benches
10. Aurora, CO (tie) 4.0 park benches DEBUT CITY

The 10 lowest-ranking city park systems are:

51. Jacksonville 2.0 park benches
52. Santa Ana 1.5 park benches DEBUT CITY
53. San Antonio (tie) 1.5 park benches
53. Memphis (tie) 1.5 park benches
55. Oklahoma City 1.5 park benches
56. Mesa, AZ 1.5 park benches
57. Charlotte 1.0 park benches
58. Indianapolis (tie) 1.0 park benches
58. Louisville (tie) 1.0 park benches
60. Fresno 1.0 park benches

Minneapolis Parks Rated No. 1 by National Group

The following item was reported on May 29, 2014 by Mike Binkley on WCCO-TV.  To view a video clip, go to http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/06/05/minneapolis-parks-rated-no-1-by-national-group/

MINNEAPOLIS PARKS RATED NO. 1 BY NATIONAL GROUP

Just a week after being named the “fittest city” in the United States by the American College of Sports Medicine: http://www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm another group is giving Minneapolis a top national ranking.

The Trust For Public Land: http://www.tpl.org/news/press-releases/2013-press-releases/parkscore-2013-index.html said Minneapolis has the best park system in the United States.  Continue reading

Minneapolis Park System Ranked Best In The U.S.

The following article by Laila Kearney for Reuters was published in the May 29, 2014 issue of the Huffington Post:

Minneapolis Park System Ranked Best In The U.S.

2014_05_31_1_image

The Minneapolis parks system scored highest in the nation for the second straight year in a report ranking U.S. urban greenspace that was released on Thursday.    Continue reading