Minutes from January 24, 2017

2020 Partners Membership Meeting

HGA, Ford Center

Meeting Minutes – Approved by The 2020 Partners at the March 28, 2017, Membership meeting

Attendees: Dave Albersman, Tim Bildsoe, Dan Collison, Thomas Dodds, Alice Eichholz, Jamil Ford, David Frank, Brad Henry, George Holden, Tricia Holden, Denise Holt, Matt Hoy, Joanne Kaufman, Dan Kenney, Brian Kimmes, Nick Koch, Rick Kreuser, David Loehr, Ra’eesa Motala, Kelly Nelson, Tod Norgren, Robert Pfefferle, Peter Roos, Bob Salmen, Max Salmen, Mark Stenglein, Gordy Stofer, Albert Swintek, Marsha Wagner, Marcell Walker

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

2. Approval of Meeting Notes
Meeting Notes from September 27 and November 29, 2016, Membership Meetings were approved and are posted on our website.

3. Introduction of Dan Collison as Executive Director
Nick announced that the Steering Committee entered into a one-year contract (January 1 – December 31, 2017) with Dan Collison to be the Executive Director of the 2020 Partners. Dan is also serving as Executive Director for the East Town Business Partnership and Director of Downtown Partnerships for the Minneapolis Downtown Council-Downtown Improvement District.

Dan acknowledged that the 2020 Partners is comprised of a deeply invested group of landowners, institutional leaders and neighborhood leaders who have acted together to advance their “enlightened self-interests.” Dan has met with Steering Committee members David Frank, Bob Pfefferle and Nick Koch to get a sense of the institutional memory of the group, and has reviewed all of the content posted on our website. Leveraging his experience and strong relationships with Minneapolis Council Members and area business leaders, Dan’s goal in this one year pilot is to be a navigator between the interests of the 2020 Partners and other people and happenings around Downtown, representing our group and making connections with others. He will serve the interests of the Steering Committee and Task Forces in a way that brings vibrancy, energy and a sense of direction in achieving our goals.

Dave Albersman commented that with all of the time and energy Mark Oyaas has put into the 2020 Partners since its inception, he does not understand why Mark was not given a chance by the Steering Committee to apply for this position and he wondered what the reasoning was behind that decision. He added that it would be nice if membership got a say in decisions like this; many members have volunteered their time and efforts to the organization and that is worth money, too. Nick responded that Ralph Strangis and Dave St. Peter had some thoughts and opinions on this decision but unfortunately were not present at this meeting to articulate them. Joanne Kaufman said she was not aware of or included in any conversations that were taking place or decisions being made until after it was a done deal. David Frank said that he has worked from the beginning with Mark, Mary deLaittre and Chuck Leer and this decision is not intended to be disrespectful towards Mark. The Steering Committee looked at the great energy and success of East Town and wanted to work with Dan. There is precedence for the Steering Committee to enter into contracts for outside help as they did with Mary deLaittre and Vincent James (VJAA).

Joanne Kaufman said the Board of Directors of the Warehouse District Business Association has concerns that Dan’s work in East Town might conflict with some of the goals and objectives of their organization and the 2020 Partners. Max Salmen also expressed two concerns that had been expressed to him by others: the potential for conflicts of interest between East Town and the North Loop, and the lack of transparency in the process of contracting with Dan to act as 2020’s Executive Director. Nick invited anyone who has additional feedback and thoughts on this to email them to Marsha. He added that the 2020 Partners has always operated by consensus, granting authority and responsibility to the Steering Committee to make decisions and take action on behalf of the group.

Dan Collison thanked everyone for their questions and concerns. He said that while the structure of the arrangement does not involve a lot of money he acknowledges that the investment needs to be fully realized and valued and said he will provide detailed reports of his activity to the Steering Committee. His challenge is to leverage the development muscle and vision in all of Downtown, integrating resources and assets rather than entering into competition. 

4. MnDOT Resurfacing Project (I-94 Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center) – Dave Aeikens, Communications and Engagement, MnDOT Metro District Public Affairs; Marcell Walker, Project Manager for the 2017-2018 I-94 Resurfacing and Bridge Project [PPT]

Marcell Walker said the project, which stretches from Minneapolis to Shingle Creek Parkway in Brooklyn Center, will run from March 2017 through July 2018. From May through October, 2017, I-94 will be reduced to 2 lanes in each direction between Nicollet Avenue and Highway 55 for under-bridge repairs, and it will be reduced to 2 (possibly 3) lanes in each direction north of Highway 55. In August it is anticipated that there will be four weekend directional closures of I-94 (one direction closed, the other remains open) required for asphalt overlay. Some of the parking under the freeway bridges in the Glenwood-Lyndale area will be restricted for bridge repair. Ramp closures throughout the project area will be required for pavement repair. Closures are expected to last two weeks, and the goal is to have no two consecutive freeway ramps closed at the same time. Intermittent lane closures will be required throughout the project.

Moving north to the Brooklyn Center area, there will be impacts to the Highway 252 / I-94 area. Both Southbound Highway 252 to Eastbound I-94 and Westbound I-694 to Eastbound I-94 will be closed for approximately two months to resurface roads and repair bridges. Traffic will be detoured to Highway 100.

On the south end of the project area, work done on the Lowry Tunnel will be staged construction. When work begins in the eastbound Lowry Tunnel, traffic will be shifted to westbound lanes; two reduced (10-foot wide) lanes in each direction separated by a concrete barrier. When that is completed, the traffic will be shifted to the eastbound lanes while work is down on the westbound lanes. This phase is expected to take about 14 weeks, and truck traffic will be restricted. To reduce traffic in this area the Northbound I-35W to Westbound I‑94 ramp will be closed during Lowry Tunnel work for about 70 days. Traffic will be detoured to Highway 62 to northbound Highway 100.

This project is only for maintenance and preservation of the roads and bridges. Additional capacity or sound barriers are not included, but there will be new highway lighting. The estimated cost of the project is $57 million; MnDOT will be opening bids on February 1. As far as mitigation plans during road closures, Marcell said MnDOT can only detour traffic onto roads they maintain, and they cannot restrict traffic from using other roads.

Individuals interested in updates can check the project website for I-94 Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center, and sign up for email alerts. They can also check Facebook, Twitter or 511 (real-time travel information anywhere in Minnesota). Marcell also provided project contact information: Dave Aeikens, Communications & Engagement: david.aeikens@state.mn.us; 651-234-7511; and Marcell Walker, Project Manager, marcell.walker@state.mn.us; 651-234-7712.

5. Neighborhood Updates
David Frank invited everyone to attend the Annual Meeting of the North Loop Neighborhood Association, Wednesday, January 25, from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at T3, 323 North Washington Avenue.

6. Property Development Update: 729 Washington – Gordy Stofer, Vice President of Office Development, United Properties [PPT]
United Properties has developed several properties in the North Loop, including Ford Center and the Loose Wiles project where Freehouse is located. This new development – which they are calling Nordic House – is on the surface parking lot next to Freehouse and is being built as a modern interpretation of a historic warehouse-type building with Scandinavian-inspired design. It will include primarily office space with some retail and up to three restaurants, including an outdoor restaurant adjacent to a 50,000 square foot plaza which will be activated year-round by the Musicant Group. From December 1 through March 31 underground cooling coils will be used for winter sports like curling. The office building will have a rooftop terrace. The design and height of the building compliments adjacent historic buildings. United Properties has been working with a neighborhood group and will be making contributions to the neighborhood for historic preservation and public art.

An adjacent structure, connected to the office building by a canopy over the alley, will provide 270 above-grade and 130 below-grade parking spaces. There will also be 59 micro‑units (400-square-foot efficiency apartments) along the Third Street side of the building, and retail on the street level. They plan to break ground this summer and complete the project by Fall of 2018. Restaurants and major tenants will be announced within the next 30-45 days.

7. Parking Task Force Report – Max Salmen, Task Force Chair; Dan Collison
Max said that the Parking Task Force has been collecting funds to replicate a study that was done ten years ago. That included requesting funds from the Steering Committee, but primarily due to some confusion in communication that was not granted. The Task Force has assembled a massive amount of information about what people – retailers, office workers, tenants – are upset about with the current parking situation, but they lack a clear vision of what they want to accomplish. In the next four to six weeks the Task Force will work to develop a vision of where they want Minneapolis to be and how it will be perceived by people who are coming to this area to work, shop and recreate. The Task Force will then determine how they can make it happen by tying into the user experience and the future of transportation, integrating more people into mass transit by broadening the scope of mass transit users. They will then ask for a commitment of money, time and connections to achieve their vision.

Dan said he has an appointment set with Tim Drew, a senior engineer with the City of Minneapolis and Director of Parking and Traffic in the downtown sector. They will look at the City’s basic data and information on the City’s assets and commercial lots. At the Steering Committee meeting there was a discussion on accessory lots, and the conclusion was that changing the policy on accessory lots would not be a fruitful conversation largely because there are not enough lots that would be impacted in the North Loop. Also, effecting the planning process and the City Council’s understanding of surface parking lots would involve a five-year effort and the buy-in does not currently exist for this undertaking.

Max added that the Task Force is looking at areas where the City might be flexible and identifying other players who can add influence to guide this discussion into the future. The Parking Task Force was highly involved in connecting the Farmers Market people with MnDOT when they faced losing 100 percent of their parking during the I-94 resurfacing project. That connection and conversation resulted in MnDOT changing its plans in favor of the Farmers Market.

Bob Salmen, apologizing for being late to the meeting, wanted to make an additional point about transparency of the decisions and actions of the Steering Committee. Several months ago [March 2016] Bob sent by email a letter expressing concern about Ralph Strangis remaining on the Steering Committee due to what he perceived were conflicts of interest. Nick thanked Bob for his comments. While Nick admitted he does not know what the next step would be, expressing these thoughts out loud in this room is a first step.

8. 2017 Work Plan – Nick Koch, Dan Collison
Nick referred to the November 29 membership meeting where ideas for the Work Plan were put forward by members. Other ideas were submitted following the meeting, including one that arrived via email this morning [January 24] from Bruce Lambrecht. Bruce proposed an idea for a soccer stadium in Minneapolis that could be considered if negotiations with Saint Paul for the Midway site fell through. In a spirited exchange, Dan Kenney stated that the parcel of land under consideration in Minneapolis contained in Bruce’s proposal is not controlled by Minneapolis or Hennepin County. It is controlled by the Minnesota Ballpark Authority and leased to the Minnesota Twins, and a soccer stadium on this site will never happen. Bob Salmen averred that it is merely an idea, a perspective that could be considered if siting the soccer stadium in Saint Paul is determined to not be feasible. Nick said the document would be acknowledged as a suggestion without taking further action at this time.

The remaining meeting time was spent discussing the 2017 Work Plan. Maps of the area and a draft document of priorities for the 2020 Partners were provided to aid the discussion. A key point from the discussion included revisiting UrbanWork’s West Loop Plan that included information on publicly and privately owned land in the area of the Farmers Market, and exploring the possibility of leveraging the entire area by expanding the digital footprint of the 2020 Partners.

Dan Kenney suggested that to the degree there are projects currently moving forward that connect the North Side into the North Loop, it would make sense for 2020 Partners to identify those projects and focus on the next steps of connection to expand the improvements so that development happens within an increasingly bigger footprint. A main consideration is pedestrians and connections, investing in amenities that make it a comfortable space for people to be in. A high priority should be moving forward with existing property owners to break up superblocks, making better connections to transit and amenities, and creating opportunities around the Southwest platform. Dan Collison added that the boundaries of our area should be permeable.

In closing, Nick read a text from Peter McLaughlin who was not able to attend the meeting: “Urge people to keep the faith and tell legislators not to impede efforts to solve transit capital problems of LRT and BRT.” Nick said we will keep the faith, and focus on the Farmers Market and development opportunities that tie in with transit.

9. 2020 Partners Meeting Schedule
The next meeting of the 2020 Partners will be on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, from 5:00‑6:30 pm.
2017 Membership Meeting Schedule: May 23, July 18 (pizza party followed by Minnesota Twins vs. Yankees), September 26, November 14

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