Downtown East / North Loop Master Plan

Chapter Seven: Phasing and Implementation Plan

Chapter Seven deals with the initiatives and priorities needed for achieving the sort of physical development called for throughout the master plan. This chapter assumes that new development within the Project Area will be based on the recommendations made throughout the document concerning both revisions to the physical environment, as well as revisions to the City’s regulatory framework. The intention of this chapter is to establish a baseline of information from which the City, developers, neighborhoods, and communities can begin to understand, discuss, and participate in how Complete Communities unfold in Downtown East and the North Loop. In short, it considers the issue of how and when the vision called for in previous chapters of this document might be implemented into the physical environment of the Project Area.

CHAPTER SUMMARY

The first section of Chapter Seven is intended to help the City establish priorities for moving forward with enhancements to the public realm and infrastructure. The second section of the chapter is intended to help the development community understand the potential that lies within the Project Area. By drawing on information derived from the market analysis (see Chapter Three, it lays out the key development objectives and projects that will be necessary to implement the vision called for in the master plan. Additionally, it describes individual springboard projects that are intended to demonstrate applications of the plan principles in selected locations throughout the Project Area.

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS IN THE PROJECT AREA

Implementation Objective: In order to encourage a diverse mixed-use area with buildings that contain commercial, residential, recreational and institutional uses throughout the Project Area, the City of Minneapolis will need to draw on its relationships with its intergovernmental partners and the development community to undertake a series of both large and small infrastructure improvement projects. The principal objective is to attract new investment, promote construction of Complete Communities, and make more efficient use of downtown land and infrastructure.

Infrastructure Investments in Downtown East:

  • Establish a pedestrian-friendly streetscape along the length of the 5th Street LRT Corridor east from the Downtown Core to the Metrodome and the Downtown East LRT Station.
  • Extend Chicago Avenue north to South 2nd Street.
  • Incorporate a streetscape along Chicago Avenue to tie together the central riverfront, the Mills District, Downtown East and Elliot Park.
  • Encourage street-level improvements around the Metrodome and HCMC to create visual and functional links through the area around these megastructures.
  • Reserve the eastern portion of one of the as-yet undeveloped blocks along Portland Avenue (in the Core Expansion Area) for a possible underground electric substation within the area designated as open space.
  • Maintain and enhance 11th Avenue South as an important link between the central riverfront, the Mills District, Downtown East, and Elliot Park.
  • Undertake a transportation feasibility analysis that explores elimination of the north lane of traffic on South 5th Street between Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue South in order to maintain a consistent and high quality pedestrian connection between the Metrodome and the Downtown Core along the 5th Street corridor.
  • Work with intergovernmental partners to develop new freeway connections between I-35W and South 3rd and 4th Streets as a compliment to the existing interchange at Washington Avenue South.
  • Re-link South 3rd Street to 11th Avenue South to facilitate better traffic distribution throughout downtown.
  • Pursue a long-term strategy of decking over the freeway entry / exit trenches linking Interstate 35W to South 3rd and 4th Streets (adjacent to the Hiawatha Light Rail Line) to create public open space to the north of the stadium and the development of more pedestrian-friendly streets around the stadium. Developable land would be made available by relocating the 4th Street freeway access northward and pairing it with the 3rd Street freeway exit.
  • Establish a new Light Rail station to serve the Hiawatha Line and the Central Corridor Line in the vicinity of Eleventh Avenue South and South 4th Street.

Infrastructure Investments in the 5th Street Spine and the Downtown Core:

  • Establish a pedestrian-friendly streetscape of widened sidewalks, tree planters, upgraded street lights with banner arms, street furniture and other urban design features along the length of the 5th Street LRT Corridor as the preeminent east-west pedestrian connector throughout the Downtown.
  • Through public and private efforts, integrate the Nicollet Mall LRT Station with the City’s Skyway System so it becomes a focal point for new mixed-use, development that anchors redevelopment in the North Nicollet Mall area of the existing Downtown Core.

Infrastructure Investments in the North Loop:

  • Establish a pedestrian-friendly streetscape along the length of the 5th Street LRT Corridor from the Downtown Core west to the new ballpark and the multi-modal station.
  • Undertake a feasibility analysis concerning air rights development and the potential for reconnecting infrastructure by decking over "The Cut."
  • Work with intergovernmental partners to incorporate a full-service, multi-modal rail station as a catalyst for air rights development above and within The Cut. The station should be located and designed in such a way as to maximize the human interface between multiple modes of local, regional, and national transportation and new and existing development in Downtown Minneapolis.
  • Locate a new light rail station along North 5th Street to be integrated with the new multi-modal rail station and the existing bus terminal in the 5th Street Ramp.
  • Remove the on/off viaduct ramps that undermine redevelopment by stretching over the North Loop between Second Avenue North and Interstate-94.
  • Re-establish the city street grid in the North Loop by reconnecting North 3rd Street, North 4th Street and Fourth Avenue North.

Though it is important for the public sector to take the lead in making the necessary infrastructure investments, obviously it is not possible to implement all of these enhancements at once. These projects will need to be prioritized to be in tune with the development market and policy decisions about where growth and change should be encouraged first (see Figure 7.1). Three phases of development are suggested:

Near-Term: Projects that ought to be implemented so that they are operational as soon as or as soon as possible after the Hiawatha LRT line opens (within 5 years).

Mid-Term: Projects that ought to be implemented in conjunction with development that is likely to occur in the decade after the Hiawatha LRT lines opens. These projects should be considered in conjunction with the construction and opening of the NorthStar Commuter Rail Line to St. Cloud and/or the Central Corridor LRT line to Downtown St. Paul (within 15 years).

Long-Term: Projects that ought to be implemented in conjunction with development likely to occur more than decade after the initiation of rail transit in Downtown Minneapolis. These projects should be considered in conjunction with the construction and opening of the Red Rock Commuter Rail Line to Hastings, the Dan Patch Commuter Rail Line to Northfield and/or the Southwest Corridor LRT line to the southwest suburbs (within 25 years).

PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT IN THE PROJECT AREA

Implementation Objectives: Minneapolis should encourage a diverse mixed-use area with buildings that contain commercial, residential, recreational and institutional uses throughout the Project Area. The principal objective is to attract new investment, promote construction of Complete Communities, and make more efficient use of downtown land and infrastructure.

Priorities for Property Development Priorities in Downtown East:

  • Encourage medium-density mixed-use development throughout Downtown East (as indicated in the Land Use Plan).
  • Establish a new downtown park along the west side of Portland Avenue through the development of parcels in the Downtown Core expansion.
  • Encourage the emergence of street level retail along Washington Avenue South (as called for in the Update to the Historic Mills Plan).
  • Encourage the emergence of street level retail along Chicago Avenue from South 5th Street to South 2nd Street to create a vital link between the Downtown East LRT station, the new Guthrie Theatre, and the central riverfront.
  • Encourage the emergence of neighborhood-oriented street level retail at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and South 9th Street.
  • Encourage the emergence of neighborhood-oriented street level retail at the intersection of 11th Avenue South and South 8th Street.
  • Encourage Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) to optimize development on the block south of the Downtown East LRT station as mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD) that helps to create a functional village center.
  • Encourage the ongoing preservation and rehabilitation of existing "brownstone" buildings in the area along South 9th Street and South 10th Street. Encourage infill development in the gaps between existing buildings.
  • Encourage reduced reliance on the private automobile and greater reliance on public transit through the establishment of a maximum parking requirement (as opposed to minimum parking requirements).

Priorities for Property Development in the 5th Street Spine and the Downtown Core:

  • Encourage high-intensity commercial office development on selected, underdeveloped sites located within the existing core, and are within convenient walking distance to the Downtown East LRT Station and the Government LRT Station.
  • Encourage high-intensity commercial office development within the proposed expansion area of the Downtown Core (as indicated in the Land Use Plan).
  • Wherever possible, encourage street level retail along the 5th Street LRT corridor to create and reinforce a vital east-west link between the Downtown East and the North Loop.
  • Encourage reduced reliance on the private automobile and greater reliance on public transit through the establishment of a maximum parking requirement (as opposed to minimum parking requirements).

Priorities for Property Development in the North Loop:

  • Encourage medium-density mixed-use development throughout the North Loop (as indicated in the Land Use Plan).
  • West Hennepin shall be regarded as an area where the historic character is to be maintained and enhanced through new development by adaptive reuse and infill development at a scale similar to that of existing buildings. Maintain and enhance street level retail throughout the West Hennepin Development Precinct.
  • Establish a new downtown park as part of the air rights development over "The Cut" to create a vital link between the ballpark, the multi-modal station and Washington Avenue North.
  • Encourage the emergence of neighborhood-oriented street level retail along Washington Avenue North.
  • Encourage the emergence of street level retail along Fifth Avenue North from north 5th Street to Washington Avenue North to create a vital link between the ballpark, the multi-modal station and Washington Avenue North.
  • Establish medium- and high-intensity mixed-use development in the air rights parcel above the Burlington Northern Right-of-Way and Interstate 394.
  • Locate the new Ballpark on an air rights development parcel over the rail yards serving the multi-modal station. Incorporate a large public plaza and open space built on decking over the freeway between the proposed baseball stadium and the existing Target Center. This plaza would provide a link between the stadium and the downtown core while providing an open-air gathering place for very large crowds
  • Create new medium-density, mixed-use office development as a buffer around the Hennepin Energy Resource Center site.
  • Encourage reduced reliance on the private automobile and greater reliance on public transit through the establishment of a maximum parking requirement (as opposed to minimum parking requirements).

Developable Sites

The Market Analysis (Chapter Three) projected significant development in downtown Minneapolis over the next twenty-plus years, suggesting that the downtown will increase by some 25 million square feet over that period. This figure represents a combination of office / commercial, retail, residential and hotel / lodging development.

A priority of Chapter Seven is to ensure that the Recommended Land Use Plan (Chapter Four) is capable of accommodating development densities that approach the 25 million square feet supported by market projections, as well as any additional development resulting from policy intervention. One such intervention concerns downtown housing.

While the Market Analysis proposes a potential for up to 5,000 new residential units over the next two decades, the master plan suggests a need for more downtown housing in order to achieve the critical mass required to nurture Complete Communities. Therefore, this report recommends that the housing projection for the Project Area be doubled to 10,000 new residential units over the next twenty-plus years. At an average size of 1,000 gross square feet per dwelling unit, this equates to five million new square feet of residential development, bringing the estimated total for new growth in the Project Area to 30 million gross square feet (see Figure 7.2)

The project development in the Project Area matrix (see Figure 7.3) and the Developable Sites Map (see Figure 7.4), illustrate the relative potential of various sites within the Project Area for redevelopment over the next twenty years. Each site is categorized in one of five different ways. For example, "Open Site Development" refers to an empty site requiring no demolition. "Cleared Site Development" refers to a site with existing buildings that are not identified as having historic or architectural merit; such buildings are likely candidates for demolition given the pressure that might be expected from the market place. These sites vary in size and configuration depending upon available land and the location of adjacent preservable / reusable buildings. The Developable Sites Map also illustrates "Designated Historic Buildings" and "Historic Buildings that may have potential for designation," the latter being buildings not officially designated as historic, but worth retaining for their potential historic, architectural or community value.

Preservation of Remaining Historic Fabric

Although there are a significant number of protected buildings within the Project Area, even a casual look around many portions of Downtown East and the North Loop indicates that too many of the City’s historic downtown buildings have been demolished. Many such buildings likely possessed both pedestrian-friendly scale and special attention to architectural detail. Wherever possible, as many existing older buildings as possible should be retained through historic designation. Though many of these buildings are not necessarily the finest representations of a particular architectural style, their existence lends character to Downtown because they are remnants of the City’s past fabric.

A number of pre-1945 downtown buildings within the Project Area are suggested for further consideration as sites for potential historic designation (see Figure 7.5). It may be wise for the City to consider instituting an intermediate sort of designation that encourages a building’s preservation and reuse based not on its individual appeal, but on its contribution to maintaining a downtown that is rich with "layers" of history.

It is important to note that not specifically listing a building for possible preservation does not mean that a building is recommended for demolition. Rather, it means that there is little reason at this time, based on preliminary review, to restrict an owner’s right to demolish a building for the purposes of redevelopment.

ILLUSTRATIVE SPRINGBOARD PROJECTS

The following pages present a series of springboard projects, which represent a cross-section of development precincts and illustrate the range of building development types contemplated for the Project Area, these include Class-A office, mixed-use office, mixed-use residential, infill retail, historic residential, and transit-related facilities, such as the multi-modal station. While the market place will ultimately determine when development on individual projects can take place, it is important to begin envisioning just how the principles and recommendations of the plan could be applied in selected locations.

The sites and locations for these projects were picked on a semi-random basis. It is in no way clear that these are the sites that will without a doubt see development first. Nonetheless, these sites were chosen in order to assemble a collection of "demonstration" projects, each of which might act as a catalyst for further growth and for filling out the development precinct in which it is located. It is hoped that these illustrations will serve as useful tools for encouraging the development community to move beyond the kind of projects that have come to typify traditional development patterns in Minneapolis and move closer towards the kind of projects expressed and envisioned throughout the master plan (see Figure 7.6).

Recommendations for Potential Springboard Projects

Each springboard project is submitted to help paint a tangible picture that can be used as a basis for discussion between the City, landowners, developers, lending agencies, and neighborhood and community groups. It is suggested that the City of Minneapolis encourage the development community to use and draw upon the Potential Springboard Projects as illustrative examples of what might be and where to begin shaping Complete Communities in Downtown East and the North Loop.

Springboard Project A

Springboard Project B

Springboard Project C

Springboard Project D

Springboard Project E

Springboard Project F

Springboard Project G

Springboard Project H

Springboard Project I

Springboard Project J

Last updated Sep. 27, 2011