Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Minneapolis to Warehouse District Developers: You Need to Cut Some Floors. Like 18.

As part of Minneapolis' continuing effort to keep the city as small as possible, the city council voted on Friday to reject an appeal to permit high-rise towers as part of the Pacific condos and hotel development.

While efforts to maintain the character of the area have a lot of merit, it should be recognized that preventing developments like the Pacific will ultimately lead to a more homogenized (and boring) urban environment. One only needs to go a few blocks north and study the architectural disaster between 1st and 2nd Streets North to see what kind of development we're setting ourselves up for.

It would be a tragedy to let such inspired blandness creep onto Washington Avenue. Even if the 10-floor limit was to remain in force for the rest of the area, it would make sense to let the block in question grow up. I-394 creates somewhat of a blockade to pedestrians, and a major development like the Pacific (which would be across the street from 394's final ramp) could help create a bridge between downtown and the rest of the Warehouse District.

Monday, January 15, 2007

AMC Rosedale Admits the Weather is a Bit Chilly

WCCO is confirming management at the new AMC Theaters at Rosedale Mall has finally come to the same conclusion just about everyone else in the north metro came to quite some time ago--the outdoor box office was an incredibly stupid idea:
"A spokeswoman for AMC theaters heard the complaints loud and clear, and said the box office will, indeed, be enclosed as soon as management gets the local building permits. As soon as possible, AMC plans on erecting a temporary enclosure. By next winter, the company plans on building a permanent enclosure that according to Melanie Bell 'will complement the current structure' and protect moviegoers from 'all elements: temperature, moisture and wind.'"
Expected highs for the next five days: 13°, 24°, 22°, 18° and 20°.

For what it's worth, Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press had an article on this train wreck a couple of weeks ago. While the tone of his article was generally fairly critical, some thought he was being too kind.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Schmidt Brewery: A Future Town Within a City?

The Pioneer Press reports a Maine developer and his St. Paul son are looking to convert the Schmidt Brewery property into a mixed-use "town within a town" development, possibly in coordination with the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation. The federation has a page on the project, and the StarTribune has coverage as well.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Minneapolis Grain Elevators: Going, Going...

This is about a month overdue, but the Strib has a story on the partial preservation of the Bunge Grain Elevators in Northeast Minneapolis. It sounds like most of the complex will be torn down, but the landmark headhouse--a common sight to those traveling on 35W north of downtown--will be preserved.

It's a modest nod to the past in a city that seems determined to destroy the most visible reminders of its industrial and agricultural history. In addition to the Bunge elevators, we're losing the ConAgra towers by the U of M, and will likely watch part of the Pillsbury complex near St. Anthony main disappear as well. It's too bad we can't seem to find a better way to save more of the grain elevators here. Heck, Akron converted some of theirs into a hotel, why don't we make some of ours into condos or offices? If a city as boring as Akron freakin' Ohio can figure out how to preserve them, you'd think a "creative class" city like Minneapolis would be able to do so as well.

This city needs more imagination and fewer wrecking balls.