Posts tagged with "st. paul":

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Initial plans emerge for former Ford assembly plant in St. Paul, Minnesota

A vision for Ford Motor Company’s former Twin Cities Assembly Plant is beginning to materialize as the City of St. Paul has recently unveiled initial studies for the site. While discussion around the site has been underway for nearly 10 years, it seems that the project is poised to start moving in earnest. In a public meeting, the city outlined what the future may hold for what they are calling "Ford Site: A 21st Century Community." The 135 acres of land along the Mississippi River in the Highland community was an assembly plant from 1925 through 2011. Now the plan is to build a mixed-use development which will focus on and interconnected system of streets, bikeways, and walkways. Ford-and-CP-Properties-Map The information presented by the city included a rough timeline of the development, outlines of economic and environmental impact, and a plan for the streets and park space on the site. Much of the information was gathered and assembled during the course of a dozen public meetings and presentation that have happened over the last two years. One of the largest concerns surrounding the Twin Cities Assembly Plant project has been the likely increase in traffic in the area. The city has assured skeptics that new dedicated transit and improved space for alternative transportation would be provided on the site. Though the city is playing a large role in communicating information to the public, St. Paul does not own the site. It is still owned by Ford, who plan to market and sell the land for development. Ford, working with the city, is currently running studies on the site and planning remediation. It is expected that Ford will actively start the search for buyers in 2017. The presented timeline puts developer engagement in 2020, with the physical project beginning in 2021. While no designs have been released, the city has stated that the development would “reflect the heritage of the Ford plant and its employees.” The city has also stated that there will be a mix of tradition and “modern” building forms and materials in the development.
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Populous unveils design for Minnesota United FC’s stadium

Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team, the Minnesota United FC, unveiled the first renderings of its planned 20,000-seat stadium. Designed by Kansas City–based stadium experts Populous, the field is expected to be complete by the start of the 2018 season in the Snelling-Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. The outdoor stadium will be enveloped in an LED-illuminated translucent PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) facade, which will act as a shade for the spectators.

Currently the proposed site, a parking lot for city buses, is not so fondly referred to as the “bus barn.” But the team believes the location, outside of downtown, can grow with the team and that the stadium can help give the area an identity all its own. Much to the praise of the public, the team plans to privately finance the entire $150 million budget, a departure from the economic model of most stadiums. Once completed the stadium will become publicly owned. Plans for the surrounding area have also been unveiled, including mixed-use retail, office, and residential developments. Completion is scheduled for 2018.

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With a Knight Foundation grant, the Better Block Foundation aims to make your city even better

In over 100 projects, Team Better Block (TBB), the organization that works directly with cities to realize large-scale placemaking initiatives, helps make your great city even better. Now, thanks to a $775,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Dallas-based organization will be better able to serve cities and the people who make them. The January grant, meted out in installments, allowed TBB to create the Better Block Foundation (BBF), a nonprofit arm of for-profit TBB. Founder Jason Roberts explained that the grant will help both entities grow and support each other mutually. Roberts clarified that, while Better Block solutions like bike lane, plaza, and pop-up business recipes are "an open-source operating system, like Linux," free and open for all to use, TBB installs Better Block solutions for a fee. He and co-founder Andrew Howard realized a need for the foundation when TBB went worldwide. "We didn't have the bandwidth, so we needed the non-profit model. The nonprofit will help other folks do these things," he told AN. Things like transforming underutilized spaces, building workforce capacity, and cultivating vacant land. The program is expanding its staff to include a managing director, architect, project manager, and creating an internship program. Howard will manage TBB, while Roberts, who enjoys research and development, is directing the foundation. The BBF includes a human capacity-building component, as well. Civic leaders, elected officials, developers, and others "passionate about the built environment" will be able to meet architects, planners, and designers to discuss solutions for their cities' public spaces. Additionally, the foundation will build capacity to collect data and performance metrics before and after a Better Block project is installed. "We haven't had a chance to document that piece," Roberts reflected. "The foundation can focus on impact." This year, the BBF and TBB are planning the WikiBlocks project for the city of St. Paul. In collaboration with neighborhood groups, they'll install parklets, flowerbeds, and cafe seating from cutout designs whose plans are free to download and assemble. TBB is teaming up with the digital fabrication studio at Kent State University to create the prototypes for the project: In about three months, the early models will be developed. TBB knows how local culture manifests itself in and through the built environment, and that drawing on that ethos is key to building strong neighborhoods. Right now, TBB is using one site to turn around a struggling neighborhood in Akron, Ohio, and posing the question in reverse: how could culture express itself in an individual house? Working with refugees from Bhutan, in collaboration with the International Institute, the Bhutan Cultural Association, and a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Akron, the team is transforming a dilapidated house in the North Hill neighborhood into The Exchange House, an Airbnb youth hostel managed by the émigrés. Refugees sponsored by the State Department are indebted to the government: refugees have to pay back their plane ticket. Consequently, they're expected to find work, but language and cultural barriers can make that difficult. Running the hostel will provide an opportunity for cultural exchange, help refugees earn money, and build English language skills, as well as revitalize a neighborhood that has excess housing and infrastructural capacity. The partners hope to "stamp North Hill as an international neighborhood." There's 11 months left on the project, and demolition on the interior is progressing apace. Sai Sinbondit (of Cleveland-based Bialosky + Partners Architects) is the lead architect. A market, garden, and community resource center will round out the hostel's program.
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Historic St. Paul church for sale comes with interred body

When buying a building that is in a historic preservation district there are many considerations to take into account, including zoning restrictions, restoration, and often, accessibility concerns. In the case of one St. Paul Church, now on the market, add deceased body to the list. Shuttered a year ago, the historic Episcopal St. Paul’s on-the-Hill in St. Paul, Minnesota is up for sale. One caveat to purchase is that the building comes with the body of one of its former priests, which is not allowed to be moved. Located in a national and city historic preservation district, the church cannot be torn down, and the exterior cannot be altered. On the market for $1.69 million, the Gothic-Revival building comes with the pews, organ, a large rose window, 33 other stained glass windows, a saintly statuary, and the body of Priest John Wright. Wright was the priest during the building of the church and was buried in a crawlspace crypt under the sanctuary in 1919. The body cannot be moved because it is considered a “historic non-operating cemetery” according to real estate agent Jay Nord in a video discussing the sale with the Pioneer Press. Founded in the Lowertown neighborhood in 1857, the entire building was dismantled, redesigned and moved to its current location on Summit Avenue in the early nineteen-teens. The church’s designer, the École des Beaux-Arts–trained French immigrant Emmanuel Masqueray, is also the designer of the city’s notable Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary. Along with his church designs, Masqueray was also the chief designer of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. https://vimeo.com/153434141 Though the church comes with some atypical “features”, it has other qualities that the seller hopes will attract a buyer in the coming month. Most notably, the acoustics of the nave are known to be exceptional, making the 6,000 square foot space suitable for a small concert venue. The property also includes 11,000 square feet of office and meeting space in a newer addition. With the building safe from demolition and alteration, preservationists need not worry about its future, yet it will still require a very special buyer who is willing to take on the unique responsibility of owning this building.
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Minneapolis planners pick 36-story tower for Nicollet Hotel block

City planners in Minneapolis have named a winner in the public competition to redevelop a downtown lot that had locals reevaluating the place of tall towers in the Twin Cities. After first rejecting an 80-story tower proposal that would have become the tallest building in Minnesota, the planners picked a 36-story tower and hotel complex proposed by United Properties, based in suburban Bloomington, Minn. "The Gateway," a 36-story tower and hotel complex, was recommended by city planners for Minneapolis' Nicollet Hotel Block. (United Properties) United is owned by members of the family that also own the Minnesota Twins baseball franchise, who came under fire when the construction of the Twins stadium, Target Field, received substantial public financing. By contrast the new tower will be privately funded. The project, dubbed The Gateway, offers 300 units and a full-service Hilton hotel designed by Duluth-based LHB Corp. United is partnering with FRM Associates—the property owner of Marquette Plaza—to extend Cancer Survivors Park, a nearby green space, connecting it with a “year-round, street-level activity park” at The Gateway's base. That park is supposed to connect with a trolley car planned to open in 2018. Although the proposal awaits approval from city council, the city planners' recommendation virtually guarantees its success. Their selection of United's proposal reverses plans to present the remaining proposals to the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association on February 16—a move that has stirred some controversy among local skyline-watchers who favored the 80-story proposal in an online poll. The Gateway was the second tallest of the four proposals. Since 1991 the site at the northern end of downtown's Nicollet Mall has been a surface parking lot and bus stop. “This end of Nicollet Mall really starts to get very quiet as the day ends, and it needs a catalyst to bring new life and new vigor,” Bill Katter, executive vice president of investments for United Properties, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
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Pittsburgh, Washington, Buffalo lead nation in growth of bicycle commuters

Portland still dominates the American Community Survey ranking the 70 largest cities with the highest share of bike commuters, but the list shakes up some preconceptions when you count which cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013. The League of American Bicyclists runs the numbers every year, pulling data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. This year's bike culture report card, as it were, has Portland, Washington, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and New Orleans topping its list of bicycle commuters as a percentage of total population. In total 13 cities report more than 2 percent of their population biking to and from work. Growth in that number is more startling. They're small overall numbers, perhaps inflating the percent change figure, but the growth since 1990 for eight cities is over 100 percent. The following cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013:
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Minneapolis breaks ground on massive downtown east development

Earlier this month, workers broke ground on the largest Twin Cities real estate development project in two decades. Budding off a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, designed by HKS, locally based Ryan Companies saw an opportunity to redefine the Minneapolis neighborhood of Downtown East. Their five-block mixed-use development will include two 18-story office towers for Wells Fargo, six levels of parking with more than 1,600 spaces, about 24,000 square feet of retail space, 193 apartments and a four-acre urban park near the new stadium’s northwest corner. Wells Fargo currently has 5,000 employees scattered across more than a dozen offices throughout the area. Bordering the Mississippi River, Downtown East is already home to the Guthrie Theater, whose form mimics the defunct flour mills that comprise much of the area’s post-industrial building stock—a heritage celebrated by the Mill City Museum, also in Downtown East. And while some residential development has followed those cultural attractions, the neighborhood has so far missed out on the artistic cachet that has enlivened nearby areas like North Loop and Northeast. The New York Times took a look at what the Downtown East development could mean for the city and state, which wrestled with financing for the new Vikings Stadium before ultimately approving partial public funding. While officials are quick to tout the project’s economic potential, some residents blast its lack of low-income housing. From the Times article by Christina Capecchi:
Mayor [Betsy] Hodges said she hoped to work affordable housing into Downtown East. “The housing portion hasn’t been fully fleshed out,” she said, “so that’s a conversation we’re having.” Ultimately, Downtown East is a chance to spur the development that the 31-year-old Metrodome failed to generate, said Michael Langley, chief executive of the Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership. “This is an opportunity for a huge do-over,” he said.
Minneapolis has undertaken a slew of large infrastructure improvements lately, such as a revamp of downtown's pedestrian strip, Nicollet Mall, and public transportation investments to the bike-friendly city that include a long-awaited light rail connection to neighboring St. Paul and an intermodal transit station next to Target Field.
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Minneapolis mayor cheers on Nicollet Mall revamp

As a team of designers gear up for an overhaul of Nicollet Mall, dubbed Minneapolis’ main street, civic leaders there have cheered on the project in an op-ed in the StarTribune. Mayor Betsy Hodges and Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, write of the plan to revamp 12 blocks of pedestrian and public transit thoroughfare:
Never before has the need to leverage the mall as “the” public square providing space for a range of users been more apparent. This is our opportunity to elevate our offerings to ensure we can compete with other cities for tourism dollars, remain home to corporate headquarters, continue to grow the city, and attract new generations of families and employees while developing a space that will serve generations to come.
Minneapolis lacks a visible tourist magnet, they write, like Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, Boston’s Newbury Street or Beale Street in Memphis. New York–based James Corner Field Operations won a design competition last year for a plan draw up with local firms Julie Snow Architects and Coen+Partners. As Hodges and Cramer write, Nicollet Mall was originally built in 1968, just as many Twin Cities residents were flocking to the suburbs. Now, with some of that momentum bending back to downtown, the op-ed authors and others are hoping to capture some of the economic impact of projects like New York’s High Line, which was also designed by James Corner Field Operations. What does this mean for the rest of downtown Minneapolis? Hodges and Cramer say the public-private partnership model that built the mall almost 50 years ago should be revived to ensure that the Twin Cities “take this opportunity to further enhance downtown.”
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Julie Snow Architects changes name, promotes new co-principal

One of the country’s most prominent female-led firms has named a new co-principal. Julie Snow Architects will now go by Snow Kreilich Architects. Matthew Kreilich, one of Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal's "40 Under 40” in 2013, is now a partner and design principal of the Twin Cities-based firm. Kreilich has worked at Julie Snow Architects for 10 years. Snow’s work includes Target's Minneapolis headquarters, the Lake Superior Weekend House, and the U.S. point of entry in Warroad, Minnesota. The firm is part of a design team recently selected to lead an overhaul of Minneapolis "main street" (Nicollet Mall), along with James Corner Field Operations and Coen+Partners. (Julie Snow also serves on A|N’s Midwest editorial advisory board.) The firm also updated their web address: www.snowkreilich.com.
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Minneapolis City Council to vote on mixed-use makeover for Downtown East neighborhood

In its last scheduled meeting of the year, Minneapolis City Council could give the go-ahead on a $400 million mixed-use development near the new Vikings stadium. Surface parking lots currently occupy much of that land. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial board called the Downtown East neighborhood “a part of the city’s commercial core in desperate need of new life.” The newspaper stands to benefit from the project, as the editorial announces—they plan to sell five blocks of nearby property, including their current headquarters, and move downtown. With 1.1 million square feet of office space, apartments, retail space, and a park, the Ryan Cos. project could attract tax revenue to the city, as Wells Fargo is reportedly looking to anchor the development as a corporate tenant. It also includes a 1,625-space parking ramp. Mayor R.T. Rybak said that over 30 years the project will generate $42 million in property taxes for the city, $50 million for Hennepin County and $35 million for the Minneapolis public schools. The public-private partnership does not call for tax-increment financing. Instead, it asks the City Council to approve $65 million in bonds, to be paid off by revenue from the project’s parking ramp over 30 years. The developer would cover shortfalls for the first 10 years. Minneapolis has embarked on several large-scale urban redevelopment projects, including a makeover of the city's "Main Street" by James Corner Field Operations.
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Artists and City Government Collaborate for Urban Improvement in St. Paul

In St. Paul, Minnesota, public art is valued as more than just decoration. Susannah Schouweiler of Walker Magazine reported that the city has been proactive in the encouragement of artist-city government collaboration for nearly three decades, long before initiatives like ArtPlace became popular. City Artist in Residence positions exist on the government council, City Art Collaboratory puts artists in conversation with scientists to embed themselves in the “ecology” of the city, and art start-ups are encouraging business growth on “Central Corridor.” This cross-disciplinary relationship is only expanding in what Schouweiler calls St. Paul’s “quiet revolution in public art” and the city is reaping the benefits. Public Art St. Paul, a non-profit set up in 1987, provides private funding for creatives to hold City Artist in Residence positions within the city government. These artists are incorporated into city-led projects and initiatives, working with government officials, engineers, and public works officers on various capital projects, which create or renovate public buildings, public spaces, and streetscapes within St Paul. Since the enactment of a 2009 ordinance for the support of public art, St. Paul has integrated its artists even more into key planning, development, and improvement projects. Current resident city artist Marcus Young has worked directly with the Public Works Department since 2008. His public art initiatives have included Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, a successful idea to replace broken sidewalks with new sections inscribed with poetry. The City Artist in Residence program was expanded in December 2012. Young now has a team of two other artists with which he works, Amanda Lovelee, a visual artist, and Sarah West, who is focused on improving streetspaces with "architectural and large-scale public art installations." Additionally, grassroots initiatives by local artists have brought pop-up shops to retail vacancies, explored an artistic reaction to the current light rail construction, and pondered an artist’s ability to improve the ecology of the Mississippi River. Exemplifying a forward-thinking relationship, the Public Art Ordinance states: “Public art strengthens public places and enhances and promotes Saint Paul's identity as a livable and creative city and a desirable place to live, work and visit.” With a government whose attitude toward art encourages these conversations, St. Paul continues to beautify, develop, and improve its public places.
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Building Community in the Twin Cities’ Suburbs

The economic hangover of suburban sprawl is well-documented in many U.S. metropolitan areas. But the cultural identity of inner-ring suburbs may too be shifting, as towns like those in Minneapolis' suburbs attempt to restore a sense of community. The Star-Tribune reports on two such towns, north suburban Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Park, that are taking a new approach to neighborhood building — call it reaching across the white-picket fence. Columbia Heights is launching a neighborhood association pilot project meant to connect longtime residents with newcomers, who live increasingly in townhouses recently built on former industrial sites in the city. Brooklyn Park, too, hired a neighborhood relations specialist to help “create neighborhoods, working with residents in a grass-roots way,” the city’s community engagement coordinator told the Star-Tribune. They point to nearby St. Louis Park as a prime example of a people-centered suburb. Suburbs across the nation are increasingly diverse and increasingly afflicted by problems thought to be the domain of inner cities, like widespread poverty and crime (note diversity and crime are inversely correlated — as an area’s percentage of foreign born residents rises, its crime tends to fall, according to the Brookings Institution). They’re even, paradoxically, increasingly urban. So it looks like whether or not the actions of Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Park pay off, the Minneapolis suburbs will look very different in 10 years either way.