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Minutes from March 22, 2016

2020 Partners Membership Meeting

HGA, Ford Center

Draft Meeting Minutes – Approved by The 2020 Partners Steering Committee on 4/21/16

Attendees: Kathleen Anderson, Gretchen Camp, Joan Campbell, Pierce Canser, Bob Day, Ehsan Dehbashi, Chelsey Falzone, Jamil Ford, David Frank, Tricia Holden, Denise Holt, Bob Iwaskeayez, Brian Kimmes, Nick Koch, Rick Kreuser, David Loehr, Sherman Malkerson, Andy McDermott, Peter McLaughlin, Ra’eesa Motala, Cathy Nordin, Marilyn Porter, Keith Prussing, Kit Richardson, Robert Rimstad, Peter Roos, Karen Rosar, Rick Rud, Mark Saliterman, Bob Salmen, Max Salmen, Mark Stenglein, Ralph Strangis, Carletta Sweet, Marsha Wagner, Dale White

1. Call to Order – Nick Koch, Chair, called the meeting to order at 5:10 pm

2. Introductions

3. Approval of Minutes from 2020 Partners Meeting on January 26, 2016
Minutes were APPROVED and have been posted on The 2020 Partners website.

4. Minnesota Twins/Target Field Station Update [PPT] – Chelsey Falzone, Ballpark Operations Assistant, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club
Target Field Station (TFS) opened in 2014. In 2015 there were more than sixty events along with 81 home games and two concerts. Minnesota Twins road games were televised on the video board, and that will be continued in 2016. Partnerships were formed with more than 20 local organizations. Thousands of people attended or participated in events at TFS.

The types of events held at TFS in 2015 included several sponsored by the Minnesota Twins, i.e. Physics Day, Earth Day, Farewell to Nye’s Polka Party, and FIFA Women’s World Cup Viewing Party. Several local organizations also held events, including Be the Match, Go Outside with Hennepin County, CorePower Yoga and Downtown Families Minneapolis. Go 96.3 sponsored a weekend concert series / nightly music and the Blues N Brews Festival.

As they begin programming in 2016 they realize that an area for improvement is to expand outreach among people and organizations. They are also acknowledging and celebrating successes from 2014 to 2015, which included increased awareness, improved understanding of what kinds of events best fit the space, and boosted creativity. Many events have been scheduled for 2016 or are in the works, including repeats of some events from last year but also several new ones. For an updated list of events visit the Twins’ TFS website. To inquire about or schedule an event contact Chelsey Falzone at chelseyfalzone@twinsbaseball.com or call 612-659-3669.

In the question and answer period that followed, Chelsey added that TFS is a unique space and does not fit every event. Some of its great draws include its location (transit) and ties with the Minnesota Twins and Hennepin County. Since TFS competes with other event space, they are always looking for creative ideas for using the space. There is no cost to reserve TFS, but there are costs involved with using the video board, which requires an operator, and possibly other staff. MLB constrains some promotion of TFS, but social media is used when possible, and they count on event hosts to publicize their events.

5. Courts at Mayo Clinic Square/Target Center Improvements Update [PPT] – Brian Kimmes, Facilities Project Manager, Minnesota Timberwolves | Lynx
On March 18 the Minneapolis City Council gave final approval of the design and bonding for improvements at Target Center. Brian thanked The 2020 Partners for providing a letter of support. He showed several images of the new exterior from different views, adding that when Target Center was built it was a 90 degree building. When Target Field opened in 2010 Target Center became a 360 degree building, viewed from all sides, not just First Avenue.

The groundbreaking is scheduled for Friday, May 6, and the project is expected to be completed by the start of the Timberwolves’ season in the Fall of 2017. Planned renovations include expanding the building and making changes to the exterior, adding metal paneling to give it a more modern look and feel which will help it fit in with the neighborhood and Target Field. They are also expanding the loading dock from one to three bays, and are working with the Minnesota Ballpark Authority to reconfigure Seventh and Ninth Streets. One lane of Second Avenue will be closed down to accommodate the construction elevator, and Target Center will be completely shut down from May through October 2017. Hubert’s and Lifetime will remain open but there will be no activities or events in Target Center during that time.

Brian announced that the Timberwolves | Lynx are hoping to host the May 24 meeting of The 2020 Partners at Mayo Clinic Square. At that time he will provide a more detailed presentation of the project.

Nick commented about our letters of support, stating that when we send them they are on our letterhead and (with their permission) include the organizations whose logos are shown on the bottom of our website.

6. Transit Development Updates
a. Southwest/Bottineau/Royalston-Farmers Market Station – Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County Commissioner
Peter said that there is a lot to accomplish on transit—including Southwest, Bottineau, Gateway corridor out of Saint Paul to the east, 35W bus lane—during this short legislative session that will end on May 22. Currently the State’s 10 percent capital share is the one piece that is missing to get these projects done. The federal government has passed a five year fully funded transportation bill. If we are unable to get the rest of the funding locally the federal money will go to other cities, like Denver, Portland or Dallas.

The task is complicated by the fact that all of the legislators are up for reelection, so this issue has become highly politicized. The goal is to get an ongoing source of funding with an additional sales tax in the metropolitan area which would take the state out of the equation. This would allow these projects to move forward without waiting for state bonding approval which requires a supermajority.

The Governor has proposed a one-half cent sales tax in the metropolitan area, a portion of which will be available for county road expansion or to pay for the county’s share of transit. The five counties involved are Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington; Carver and Scott Counties opted out. If applied that would cover the ten percent state capital share plus the fifty percent state operating share and allow for expansion of the bus system over the next ten years. While this essentially makes transit a “freebie” for rural legislators, the transaction cost associated with getting the state’s ten percent share is too high.

The 2020 Partners will be sending a letter of support to the Governor, Speaker and Majority Leader as well as legislators who serve on key committees. In addition Peter asked that 2020 Partners members contact the legislators in their districts by phone or email, especially if they serve on one of the key committees involved, in support of a robust transportation bill that includes a strong transit component. They should encourage others (i.e., employees, fellow chamber or business association members, especially those in positions of leadership) to do the same. A spreadsheet of legislators will be provided by email, along with talking points and links to other resources.

Nick added that this is a two part process. The 2020 Partners will be sending its letter of support, which will be posted on our website. Once that has been done an email will be sent from Nick to all 2020 Partners members so that they can reach out to their legislators. If a legislator receives between five and ten calls or emails on an issue that is a lot, and the power of the individual voice helps get their attention.

When asked about the current posture of the larger business community on transit, Peter referenced a MinnPost article wherein Doug Loon, head of the State Chamber, said we must have a signification transportation bill this year that needs to include roads, bridges and transit. Charlie Weaver, head of the Minnesota Business Partnership, echoed those same thoughts. The Minneapolis Downtown Council, Saint Paul Chamber, and Minneapolis Regional Chamber have all been supportive of a transportation bill.

b. Metro Transit Heywood Campus Projects: Proposed Police Facility and Heywood II Garage Design Activities [PPT] – Marilyn Porter, Director, and Pierce Canser, Associate Planner, Engineering and Facilities, Metro Transit
Marilyn began by explaining that the Master Plan has three key themes:
⦁ Growth: Metro Transit’s campus needs to keep up with growth (Bottineau and Southwest LRT)
⦁ Integration: being a good neighbor in this area
⦁ Operations: more equipment will be needed, and more space to store that equipment

The Master Plan is about addressing current needs while acknowledging future growth, taking a holistic view of things.

Pierce talked about the two major components of the current project: Heywood II Bus Garage and Transit Police Headquarters. He introduced two colleagues who are the individual project managers: Cathy Nordin and Robert Rimstad.

Metro Transit currently has four different facilities on 25 acres of land. The Transit Police station will contain up to 60,000 square feet of space on up to four floors and will front Sixth Avenue. It will serve as the home base for officers who are deployed to multiple locations: riding the bus, riding the Metro lines or Northstar Commuter Rail, or squad car, bike, and foot patrol. It will also provide administrative space for back-of-house functions like investigations, staff training and other critical functions. Currently there are almost 200 Transit Police officers but that could be increased to more than 400, part- and full-time.

The Heywood II Bus Garage will be a bus storage and maintenance facility with space for more than 200 buses. It will serve as a home base for buses and drivers, and provide space for employee check-in and fare processing. It will be located on property formerly occupied by Ragstock and primarily owned by Metro Transi that is bordered by I‑94/Lyndale, Seventh Street and Tenth Street/Oakland.

Both projects are now in very early design. Metro Transit will begin a robust community outreach process to allow stakeholders to weigh in within the next couple of months. Later in 2016 they will begin site cleanup at the Heywood II site and site preparation for the Police Facility. 2017 will be a heavy construction year for the police facility, and will be a conditional construction year for the bus garage because it is dependent upon funding. Both facilities are expected to open in 2018. Next steps for design outreach are to continue discussions with the City of Minneapolis and other stakeholders—including the North Loop Neighborhood Association and 2020 Partners—in an effort to produce and refine designs.

Kit Richardson asked if they would consider building the bus barn over a freeway. If the planned site is tax-exempt, building it there would take if off the tax rolls for a long time. By putting it on public land or the public right-of-way the land could be sold for a profit for other uses that would generate traffic, taxes, and jobs. It would also be nice to have development rights above the structure. Metro Transit staff replied that this is a thought-provoking idea, and what they keep in mind when considering facility expansions is condensing their land footprint and enabling development by the private market.

Jamil Ford commented that it would have been nice to have development rights above the structure. As office space is oriented toward Tenth Avenue a mixed message is being sent to neighborhood associations, residents and businesses further north that North Minneapolis continues to be a back yard to the business district or to Minneapolis. He requested that Metro Transit be mindful that I-94 is a regional connection to Downtown. Metro Transit staff said these were good points to raise as they begin to consider different concepts. The view corridors of the bus garage site are expansive, the site is cavernous, and the level of Seventh Street is above most of the building. On the Tenth Street side it is more at grade. Joint development studies indicate the market isn’t there now to look at a joint use project for the bus garage, but they will not preclude that if it is an opportunity.

Regarding district energy, which 2020 Partners supports, Metro Transit has considered it for this project. They have had multiple meetings and conversations about utilizing district energy since last summer, and are currently going through an Energy Design Assistance program.

In the coming months Metro Transit will host a number of opportunities for public information and comment, and will be visiting neighborhood groups like The 2020 Partners to show and get feedback on their designs.

7. Work Plan for 2016
Discussions about the Work Plan began at the November 2015 meeting and continued at the January 2016 meeting. The Steering Committee considered the ideas submitted at its February meeting. Nick said that we agreed that the primary focus would be on the Farmers Market area and the space around it, and the Farmers Market LRT station. Our first principle has always been about connections: pedestrian; development; visual to the near north, west to Glenwood, to Downtown. In January we talked about the importance of the public realm and infrastructure, which could become the catalyst to private development, and what we can do about parking and barriers to development. Parking is a citywide issue that is difficult for us to address but it will remain on our radar.

Development of our Work Plan is on a temporary hiaitus for a number of reasons. The Urban Works report on the future of the Farmers Market will be done in April. The fate of any transportation bill will be decided by the legislature before this session ends in March. The conversation on a Major League Soccer stadium for the Twin Cities area is going on at the legislature. Because these issues are not yet resolved the Steering Committee did not develop specific tasks or implementation steps, but several ideas have been proposed:
⦁ Creating a forum to document, share and record development principles, using the DAG 360 model.
⦁ Convening a panel of experts to raise issues, identify barriers and discuss ways of removing them.
⦁ Breaking the barriers and developing the areas under freeway decks by adding lighting, playgrounds or art.

In the ensuing discussion Nick invited 2020 Partners members to contribute their thoughts and ideas:
⦁ Max Salmen: I believe the most immediate challenge to the Farmer’s Market Area is that it is on a concrete island. In order to optimize both what the Market can be and the success of the Royalston Station, dramatic improvements must be made in the walkability of this area from Washington Avenue and Downtown. Olson Memorial, North 7th Street, and the valley through which the Cedar Lake Trail runs are all massive psychological barriers to foot traffic. To state it more concisely: For the evolution of the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market and Royalston Avenue Station to be successful, pedestrian thoroughfares must be created to connect Washington Avenue and Downtown to the immediate area. This will both increase usage and decrease parking needs and congestion.
On this topic, Dan Kenney had previously commented (via email): When we talk about connections—emphasize the pedestrian experience and ways to improve access to and through the neighborhood. This includes things like better lighting, street trees, painted crosswalks, wide curb cuts, wayfinding, public art, etc.
⦁ Mark Stenglein: The Minnesota Ballpark Authority has been generous in the neighborhood with its sales tax money. [MBA has funded improved lighting on the Sixth Avenue renovation project.] The HERC plan generates steam; we need to find a way to use it.
⦁ Kit Richardson: The Royalston Station plan has it on the wrong side of the site. It should be on the west side where it could be part of a larger development. Consider having it developed privately, with air rights above, so it becomes part of this area’s redevelopment. Rail could be moved to the east side. Previously property owners wanted it on the west side because they did not want to lose access; now many of those owners are gone so the objection is moot. The Farmers Market should be moved and connected to the Royalston Station on the west side. This would also make parking less of an issue because more people could take transit instead of driving to the Market.
Karen Rosar: With regard to the North Loop Small Area Plan (NLSAP), which was being developed in 2009 and completed in 2010, the area around the Farmers Market at that point in time was “fuzzy” and was not considered in a current market and development aspect. There was not a lot of direction at that point; there is no direction now in the NLSAP.
David Frank: Clarifying that the prefeasibility study being done now for the Farmers Market itself, with UrbanWorks as the lead consultant, is considering three options: should it stay where it is, grow vertically, expand or move within the area, it is very timely to ask this question about connecting LRT and the Market.
⦁ Ralph Strangis inquired whether we could have any influence on which of the three alternatives for the Farmers Market would be approved by the City Council as our Work Plan is dependent on that.
David Frank replied that while the study will be complete in April, and options will be presented to the City Council and others in the next few months, the next Council actions are many months away.
⦁ Jamil Ford said that the West Market District is having the same conversations about the west side of the business district: the Farmers Market area and the neighborhood on the other side of I-94. [Nick encouraged the 2020 Partners to work with them.] Jamil added that life safety is a high priority, eliminating pedestrian hazards year round.
Denise Holt: Connections should not be seasonal. Connections should not stop in winter.
⦁ Nick Koch: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Pathways to Places initiative has several concepts for the North Loop in its Master Planning process, including greening and underpass parks. Sherman Malkerson added that they are also doing work along the riverfront, including the Upper Harbor Terminal.

Kit’s suggestion to change the location of the Royalston/Farmers Market station and the Farmers Market itself generated a good deal of discussion. Some thought engineering was too far along to make any changes. Joan Campbell added that she is struggling from a political perspective, and said it might be useful for someone to ask the Met Council what it would be like to move the station at this point as it may involve redesigning two bridges. Kit averred that having two separate, individual projects is not enough to be a catalyst; if they could be connected, together there is more power. If it is too late to change the LRT station location, could the Farmers Market be moved since the City has not yet made that decision? Joan said that having served on implementation committees for other projects, changes can be made at that level, even during construction itself if there’s room for change.

As our Work Plan develops in the coming months, Nick offered a reminder to keep firmly in mind this unique forum (The 2020 Partners) where the public, private and institutional come together. Three levels of government are represented, along with private sector developers and people with knowledge of Park Board activities. David Loehr added that in the genesis of this group (2010 Partners) there was a lot of drive and energy around design guidelines and urban realm, which became driving forces to help change the nature of the North Loop Neighborhood. The Royalston-Farmers Market station is a galvanizing effort going on currently in the Farmers Market and brings with it some public investment. It would be great to come out with a plan that is development-rich, pedestrian-friendly, and with enough vision that shows how public investments can be a strong impetus for change. Casting a vision for the Farmers Market, based on a really strong integrated transit emphasis but development friendly, could be a powerful, galvanizing vision for The 2020 Partners. This would be similar to the work that was done by this group while Target Field was being built.

Nick said our work—with a deliverable that could be a drawing or a series of vignettes—needs to be done without stepping on toes. Ralph added that we need to be mindful of our organization’s limited resources. Rather than do this work ourselves we can perhaps influence those who are working with public funding.

Nick thanked everyone for their input, and invited anyone with additional ideas about the 2020 Partners Workplan for 2016 to send them to Marsha (marsha@castlevisions.com).

8. 2020 Partners Meeting Schedule
The next meeting of the 2020 Partners will be on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, from 5:00‑6:30 pm, at the Experience (skyway level), Courts at Mayo Clinic Square. Other meeting dates in 2016: July 26, September 27, November 15.

The meeting was adjourned by Nick Koch at 7:02 pm.

Minutes for January 26, 2016

2020 Partners Membership Meeting

HGA, Ford Center

Meeting Minutes – Approved by The 2020 Partners on 3/22/16

Attendees: Bill Blanski, Daniel Bonilla, Josh Brandsted, Pierce Canser, Jon Commers, Ray Dehn, Sandy Forberg, David Frank, Brad Henry, Tricia Holden, Denise Holt, Bob Iwaskeayez, Dan Kenney, Nick Koch, Rick Kreuser, Kevin Kuppe, BJ LaVelle, Greg Lecker, Chuck Leer, Kelly Nelson, Pat Nelson, Mark Oyaas, Robert Pfefferle, Katya Pilling, Keith Prussing, Neil Reardon, Jonah Ritter, Peter Roos, Karen Rosar, Bob Salmen, Max Salmen, Mark Stenglein, Ralph Strangis, Carletta Sweet, Albert Swintek, Marsha Wagner, Dale White

1. Call to Order – Nick Koch, Chair, called the meeting to order at 5:12 pm

2. Introductions

3. Approval of Minutes from 2020 Partners Meeting on November 17, 2015
Minutes were APPROVED and have been posted on The 2020 Partners website.

4. Transit Development: Southwest/Bottineau/Royalston Station Legislative Update
Commissioner Peter McLaughlin was not in attendance so this item was deferred.

5. Property Development Updates and Announcements

  • Bob Pfefferle, Director at Hines, gave an update on Hines’ T3 project currently underway next to Dock Street Apartments, across the railroad tracks from HGA. He began by showing progress to date using the construction camera. The project—mixed use retail, office and apartments; seven stories with a rooftop deck as the eighth floor—began late in the summer of 2015 and is expected to be completed by the end of September 2016. The below-grade levels are concrete, with timber (engineered wood shipped from Winnipeg) on top. Columns and beams are from Austrian Spruce and the floor panels are from the Pacific Northwest. These materials were chosen for their structural integrity, price, and experience of others who had used them. They were also chosen because of their sustainability, warmth and texture, and to maintain the historical integrity of the neighborhood. T3 is the first modern heavy timber building of this size built in the United States in a hundred years. The structural elements will be exposed and fully visible.
  • Josh Brandsted, President at Greco Properties, reported that Greco and Opus are making good progress on the ABC industrial site. They plan to begin the 12-14 month construction window by breaking ground on April 1. The project is a six-story, 143-unit mixed-use, multi-family apartment building with about 16,000 square feet of retail and two levels of underground parking. It is located at 314 Sixth Avenue North. Within the past two months they have been awarded FEMA grants to clean up the site.

Nick invited any developers with projects in our area to let him know so they can be added to future meeting agendas and posted on our website.

6. Neighborhood Announcements

  • David Frank announced that the North Loop Neighborhood Association was holding its annual meeting at Be the Match on Wednesday, January 27, featuring speeches, election of Board of Directors, and beer. He added that Karen Rosar was stepping down from the Board after serving for the past ten years.

7. Future of the Minneapolis Lyndale Farmers Market Presentation [PPT] – Neil Reardon, UrbanWorks Architecture; Jon Commers, Donjek; Daniel Bonilla, City of Minneapolis, CPED
Neil began by announcing that UrbanWorks Architecture was hired by the City of Minneapolis to conduct a pre-feasibility study on the Farmers Market. In addition to his co-presenters, other members of the project team are Ted Spitzer, a nationally-renowned market expert from Portland, Maine; and Bob Close, a landscape architect with Bob Close Studios, who will be helping with design.

Neil noted that there has been a lot of work by The 2020 Partners in this area. He provided some background and history:

  • The Farmers Market has been in this location since the 1930s
  • It is currently the largest Market in the Twin Cities region
  • Historically it is steeped in a wholesale environment and was the entry point for food throughout the city
  • There are 150-200 Vendors on weekends during the growing season
  • With a future light-rail stop planned structural changes are now beginning to influence the neighborhood

There are weaknesses and challenges as well as strengths and opportunities. The study of the three options that have been developed (as outlined below) is about preserving, improving, enhancing and re-envisioning. Currently UrbanWorks and its consultant team is seeking input from stakeholders and partners. The three main goals for redeveloping and expanding the Farmers Market are to serve as a catalyst for a variety of types of economic development, making it a food and entertainment destination for the region, and a civic landmark in Minneapolis.

Neil highlighted several visions of what the Farmers Market should be, including:

  • A Market District
  • A strong municipal market
  • Hub and Spoke Model: A Central Hub Market to the many Markets throughout the City
  • An Indoor and outdoor market combination
  • Integrated with Public Spaces
  • Educational spaces / opportunities
  • Spaces for large events
  • Adjacent Development

The Market District is centered around where the current Farmers Market is located. It is all about the connections and lack thereof. To the north and west there are currently major visual, pedestrian, and psychological barriers. The North Loop is disconnected by several large physical barriers; Downtown West by I-394 and underutilized land; and Glenwood Avenue and the Cedar Lake Trail are nearby but not visible, with a lack of synergy.

Option or strategy #1 is to:

  • Address and understand current deficiencies and unmet needs of the current Farmers Market
  • Keep the location and footprint of the current Farmers Market and understand what can be done to enhance it

Strategy #2 is to expand the Farmers Market footprint to:

  • Include a year-round, indoor Farmers Market as a tenant
  • Promote new development above or adjacent to the existing Farmers Market

Strategy #3 would be to move the Farmers Market to a new location within the Market District which could:

  • Include the Farmers Market as a tenant
  • Promote the addition of a year-round/indoor market
  • Promote the new Farmers Market as a part of a larger development within the Market District in conjunction with light rail and transit investments

In the discussion that followed the presentation, these additional points were made:

  • Timeline: Following the community engagement period, they will do a financial feasibility study and site plan for each of the three options. A report on the prefeasibility study will be done in early March. The timing after that depends on which option is selected, as options two and three would take longer and require additional funding sources. The recommended option will go before the City Council for a vote, followed by the formal feasibility study which will address community engagement, economics (i.e. jobs created, tax impact, operating costs), and barriers that might be experienced which includes monitoring risk to vendors during construction.
  • Adjacent development was loosely defined as anything within the defined Market District area. There has been a lot of thinking and work done on the demand for this landscape, and the project team will be exploring why it feels distinct to the point of being separate. They will look at establishing connections from the north, east and west to the Farmers Market District.
  • The scope of this project does not include getting into program detail, but they will consider questions about organizing the District in the different strategies/scenarios, general infrastructure implications, and the type of user that wants to invest around the Royalston Station versus elsewhere in the District.
  • The proposed soccer stadium in this area has been shifted to Saint Paul, and is not part of this presentation or study.
  • Two documents—the North Loop Small Area Plan, which has been adopted by the City Council, and Station Area Planning done in advance of Southwest LRT and the Green Line Extension—expect that the Farmers Market will remain in the current location with relatively dense development occurring in the vicinity. The Market District is within the scope of both plans as well as the scope of the prefeasibility study.
  • One consideration in Option 3 is the opportunity to connect the 3,000 people using the Royalston Station on a daily basis with the Farmers Market.
  • Addressing the parking situation in the Market District, especially when the Royalston Station is opened, is included in the prefeasibility study. At this point there is not much parking available for visitors to the Farmers Market and others.
  • Connections to light rail will be a driver for change in the Market District. Currently there is a significant grade change on Border Avenue, between the location of the future Royalston Station and the current Farmers Market. It may be suggested that the city-owned building would be relocated, but that has not yet been determined.
  • Regarding the grade change and the I-94 barrier, it is within the scope of this study to identifying the needs but not to provide a solution.
  • This could be a catalyst for investment; Minneapolis doesn’t have capital and is looking to the private sector for funding. They are looking at similar projects around the country to see how they have been achieved, usually involving philanthropy, capture of development money, and hosting events.
  • The two major components are funding and creating a good public realm.

In conclusion, Neil said that they are still inviting feedback on these strategies through the end of the week, and he provided a link to an online survey which was also posted on our website.

8. Creating A Family-Friendly Downtown Minneapolis [PPT] – Eric Laska and Denise Holt, Co-founders, Downtown Families Minneapolis
As long-time residents and active community members of Downtown Minneapolis, Eric and Denise co-founded Downtown Families Minneapolis (DFM) in an effort to make Downtown more conducive to raising children. In the summer of 2013 Alice Eichholz promoted a survey that was sent out to Downtown families to help understand the needs of raising a family Downtown.

Eric said that DFM is comprised of downtown residents who in early 2013 helped Downtown neighborhoods identify a community school solution for families who want to raise their children Downtown. The sole purpose for doing that was to keep Downtown families from leaving once their children reached school age. Since then the scope has broadened. They did some mission and visioning work in 2014 and identified the following:

  • Their purpose is to cultivate a community by connecting families with one another and the necessary resources to take full advantage of life in downtown Minneapolis.
  • They will accomplish that by leading and partnering with local, regional and state government, business, educational and non-profit organizations to develop and advocate for family-wise programs and policies that enhance family living in Downtown Minneapolis.

There are two parts to this: Social – they aim to connect families together to support each other and show them other families exist; and advocating on behalf of those families.

DFM began in 2013 when the North Loop Neighborhood Association passed a resolution in support of a school, which cascaded to the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association and the Elliot Park Neighborhood Association, both of which also passed resolutions. DFM formed a committee to conduct research which culminated in the survey that reached about 260 Downtown residents, 150 of which were families. The primary question in the survey was, “If you live Downtown today and your children are of school age, would you continue to live Downtown?” They found that 48 percent said yes, and 35 percent said they were unsure. The committee determined that if a good school option was provided they would stay Downtown.

Consolidating the survey results, DFM shared the information with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). MPS did two things: they redrew the boundaries around the downtown area so all kids who lived downtown could go to the same community school, and they reopened the Webster School just across the river. Webster School started enrolling students in the Fall of 2015. It will expand to Pre-K-Grade 5, and has a capacity of about 550.

Denise reported that in addition to taking a major advocacy role for a downtown school, their other focus is community building. They held several successful events last year, many of which were or are scheduled again in 2016, including:

  • January 24: MacPhail Winter Wonderland Music Party
  • February 20: Fancy Pants Winter Dance, that has a charitable component
  • June 26: Kids Movie on the Great Lawn at Target Field Station
  • September 17: Free Arts Day in Elliot Park

Denise thanked their generous partners for their support, and said they are open to collaborating with others, i.e. architecture firms or developers who want the family perspective. She asked The 2020 Partners to keep families in mind when developing, enhancing and activating our downtown community, and to support them in achieving their Wish List:

  • Community center in the North Loop
  • Affordable multi-bedroom condos with family- and kid-friendly amenities
  • Family-friendly retail, restaurants and activities
  • Wider sidewalks and safer street crossings

When asked if DFM has been featured in any news stories, Denise said that other than a brief mention about the Fancy Pants Winter Dance in “Scene + Heard” in the Star Tribune’s Style section, they have not. Eric said that two downtown families, including his, were featured in Star Tribune stories about living downtown. The consensus was that this was a good story that should be heard. A suggestion was made that DFM contact the YMCA and YWCA about partnering with them on programs for children.

9. Work Plan for 2016
Nick led a discussion about the Work Plan for The 2020 Partners in 2016. Suggestions include:

a. Build a North Loop Park with adjacent community center

b. Make contact with the City of Minneapolis, encouraging them to reverse their stand on parking requirements in new development and redevelopment projects in the North Loop. The current stance is to reduce the number of parking spots in projects in an effort to encourage residents to use public transit, resulting in a shortage of affordable parking.

c. Get involved in the Farmers Market planning process. The Farmers Market is a chief asset of the area and for years has been a high priority for The 2020 Partners. To support the City’s effort to revitalize this area, our involvement could include:

  • Addressing the parking situation in the Market District
  • Creating critical connections west and north of Downtown; connecting Border through to Glenwood Avenue
  • Determining how to create value, drawing on expertise of developers, business people and public officials who are members of The 2020 Partners
  • Even though there’s an agreement that the Major League Soccer Stadium will be located in Saint Paul, the Subcommittee of 2020 Partners Members formed to forward the Farmers Market as a possibility will be ready to present its “Plan B” in the event the Saint Paul proposal falters at the State Legislature
  • Focus on development opportunities in the vicinity of the Royalston LRT Station
  • What are public realm and public sector catalyst projects?
  • Should development be planned or piecemeal?

There was a strong consensus from those present that The 2020 Partners focus its efforts on the Farmers Market and transit. The Steering Committee will consider these suggestions at its February meeting.

10. 2020 Partners Meeting Schedule
The next meeting of the 2020 Partners will be on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, from 5:00‑6:30 pm, at HGA. Other meeting dates in 2016: May 24, July 26, September 27, November 15.

The meeting was adjourned by Nick Koch at 6:30 pm.

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