Wells Fargo had their appeal granted at the Zoning & Planning Committee yesterday. The vote was unanimous to allow the new Lake & Humboldt Wells Fargo to exceed the parking maximum by eight spaces–for a total of 25. As a condition of the parking variance, the bank will need to commit to sharing their lot with the neighborhood or a local business during non-banking hours.
One neighbor, concerned about street parking, was there to testify that biking and busing for a bank employee or customer is “unrealistic.” She called out a collection of working-class heroes by name and described how they drive 2-3 miles to work from Linden Hills (camera pans to the brave faces of Adrian, Marsha, and Georgianne, presumably parked next to Michelle Obama). Not very shrewd of these folks to eschew a 13-minute bus ride in favor of enduring the daily Uptown a-park-olypse. (I enjoyed her testimony. Watch the video below.)
I can’t understand the argument that a bank will bring parking disaster to the neighborhood. Banks are open during banking hours. Banking hours coincide with the time of day that many residents, even non-bankers, will have driven their cars off to work and parked them in someone else’s neighborhood. Council Member Lisa Goodman seemed to be thinking along those lines when she asked the Wells Fargo representative what their plans were for the empty lot during off hours. Answer: keep it empty.
@MattyLangMSP@nickmagrino Saw a pedestrian taking out money from the drive-through ATM the other day. Would’ve made a great photo.
Council President Barb Johnson made the social engineering argument, saying we shouldn’t use the parking maximum to “force people to use a particular form of transportation.” I should remind you that Barb had no problem forcing people build more parking when she weakened reforms to parking minimum regulations last year. And then there was her usual anecdote about how hard it is to find parking on her Uptown shopping trips. You may remember last year when Barb griped about that one time she had to walk a block and a half in Ward 10.
Despite approving the extra parking, the committee was largely in agreement that this is a pretty terrible project for this location. “It needs density, it needs more than one story, and there’s way too much surface parking,” said Andrew Johnson. Lisa Bender described the sentiment she hears from the neighborhood association as a question of “how do we get this project to totally change into a different form that’s not a single story building surrounded by surface parking?” It’s too late for that. Uptown is stuck with this over-parked, single-story, drive-thru bank for decades.
A Google search for “do people still go inside banks?” shows that, for some of us, physical banks are a thing of the past. Which means you might not be aware of the dangers of car-free banking. Read on, for a story every parent should see.
Yesterday, the Planning Commission considered Wells Fargo’s plans for a new branch building at the corner of Lake and Humboldt. The building would replace the bank’s existing structure built in 1973. The maximum number of car parking stalls allowed for the proposed building is 17. Wells Fargo wants 36.
When we’re talking about bank transactions, I feel like there is some argument that perhaps customers–I don’t know if this is legitimate or not–but perhaps customers do want the safety of having their vehicle there.
@happifydesign@mikesonn from watching that meeting, I gather it’s hugely dangerous to do your banking without a getaway car nearby.
Considering the neighborhood context (frequent transit, multiple bikeways, walkability, density, the transportation preferences of nearby residents), Commissioner Nick Magrino expressed “surprise” that all 27 Wells Fargo employees at the site are driving themselves to work: “I think it’s probably possible that you’re sort of inducing some of that demand from the employees by having free parking available on site.”
The Planning Commission denied the request for 19 additional car stalls. They also required that three bike parking stalls be added at the bank’s Lake and Humboldt entrance. As a result of these two decisions, several long-time residents probably made dramatic Facebook pronouncements about moving to St. Paul.
The Planning Commission also voted to continue the tradition of drive-thru banking in the heart of Uptown. The new drive-thru will be two lanes, which is considerably smaller than the existing building’s seven-lane monster.
It’s impossible to say whether the Millenials of tomorrow will make virtual banking transactions from a retractable kiosk mounted on the titanium-alloy ceiling of their driverless Space-Ubers. But even if we can’t know what banking will look like a decade from now, we do know that Uptown might be stuck with the banking equivalent of a VCR, in the form of a one-story drive-thru bank that could last 50 years.
Based on your past purchases, you might also like: Rockwell’s Travel Guides – Drive-Thru Banking in Minneapolis
Tuthill and her husband, Dennis, moved to the Wedge over 40 years ago, a time when older homes were being demolished and replaced by two-and-a-half story walkup apartment buildings. Now, she’s concerned redevelopment could make the neighborhood less bike and pedestrian friendly.*
As a non-driver who walks to quite a few public meetings, my long-time neighbors tell me that traffic and parking in Lowry Hill East is a nightmare (and I believe them, because their calves appear dangerously atrophied from hours of sitting in traffic and waiting for a prime spot to open up). On the other hand, everyone can agree that it’s a great neighborhood for biking and walking. It’s the kind of place that tends to repel the car-centric, while attracting quite a few avid pedestrians and cyclists. It’s a major neighborhood selling point.
Contrary to Meg’s theory, this dynamic is good for safety. Studies show that drivers are “less likely to collide with a person walking and bicycling when there are more people walking or bicycling.” This is attributed to “behavior modification by motorists when they expect or experience people walking and bicycling.” As a result, I’m pretty enthusiastic about how my new neighbors will impact my personal well-being.
Sponsored Content: Let’s reinforce this positive dynamic by ditching parking minimums. The City should allow new apartment buildings in neighborhoods like ours to cater to residents who’d rather forego the expense of parking the car they don’t own. I hope Meg reconsiders her position on strict parking minimums when she understands the effect it will have on cyclists and pedestrians.