Is It Possible to Have Productive Neighborhood Conversations About Development?

Here’s a story about two six-story apartment proposals, from the same developer in adjacent neighborhoods. In both cases, city planners said the buildings were too big. But the differing approach from each neighborhood organization meant one was approved and the other has been scaled down significantly.

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Giant Riverfront Parking Garage Rejected by Minneapolis Planning Commission

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On Monday, the Minneapolis Planning Commission denied approval for the Federal Reserve Bank’s proposed 790-car riverfront parking garage. The vote to deny the conditional use permit to allow a parking facility split the commission 5-4, with President Sam Rockwell casting the tie-breaking vote. Site plan approval was denied by a larger 7-1 margin. It is likely the Fed will appeal the decision to the City Council.

Representatives of the Fed made the arguments you’d expect when justifying a parking garage: we need more parking. Duane Carter, a senior vice president at the bank, also said a few unexpected things in his presentation. He reminded the Commission of the time a man fired a gun at the Fed building (he didn’t mention the shots were fired from another nearby parking garage belonging to the US Postal Service). He told them the bank keeps unfathomable “treasure” in their vault. He showed the Commission on the projector what $36 million dollars looks like when you stack it up real big. Weirdest of all, he claimed the parking garage would be good for bikers and pedestrians.

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Cat Tour Draws Hundreds to the Wedge

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People said it couldn’t be done. They said “Chet, you should reschedule, it’s going to rain really hard and everyone will get wet!”

I said, “Please don’t call me Chet. This ‘Chet Wedgely’ thing was meant to be a joke but now it’s catching on.” And then, showing uncommon courage, I refused to cancel the cat tour. As a result, 300 hearts were touched and the sun never stopped shining. That’s 10 times the number of people who attended last year’s Wedge neighborhood cat tour.

Attendees (the ones who kept count) reported seeing over 50 cats. Most cats were spotted at windows — but others were seen on porches, rooftops, in strollers, on leashes, or scampering through yards. A man at 28th and Dupont emerged from an apartment building holding a cat and wearing a giant cat head. As one Reddit user put it, “does anyone else think this is kinda fuckin weird?”

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Statement Regarding the Onset of Hostilities with “Strong Towns”

Wedge LIVE! has reluctantly embarked on what is sure to become a long and bitter feud with the Strong Towns website.

While at a Planning Commission meeting yesterday, I tweeted about the idea of incrementalism — comparing a 100-year-old 4-story building to a 6-story proposal across the street — and made a reference to Strong Towns as a prominent proponent of that idea. This was directed at the consternation among commissioners over whether a 6-story building was appropriate. Later that evening, Strong Towns founder Charles Marohn found a way to take umbrage.

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3 apartment buildings planned for Girard Ave in Uptown

At a Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association meeting last night, residents learned about plans for a pair of apartment buildings on a two-block stretch of Girard Avenue in the Wedge, just north of the Uptown Transit Center. Developers Yellow Tree and Perkins Levin have partnered on proposals for a 76-unit, six-story building at 2824-2832 Girard; and a 119-unit, 6-story building at 2701-2715 Girard. They hope to receive approval from the city this year and begin construction next year.

The same developers have plans for a third building — four stories and 76 units — on the 3200 block of Girard. That proposal will be presented to the South Uptown neighborhood organization later this month.

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A Fair Housing Proposal in Minneapolis

Nationally 30% of adults have an arrest or criminal record. That can make it much harder to find housing. And to the degree there are racial disparities in our criminal justice system (as of 2012, black people were arrested by Minneapolis police at 6.5 times the rate of the non-black population), this results in disparities in who is eligible for housing.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued legal guidance that “where a policy or practice that restricts access to housing on the basis of criminal history has a disparate impact on individuals of a particular race, national origin, or other protected class” could violate the Fair Housing Act.

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