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|In this architectural rendering, the intersection appears flat, although there actually is a slope upwards on the right hand (Franklin Avenue) side. The traffic volume looks more like 1914 than 2014. In the 1870s this was the northern boundary of Lake Blaisdell, 20 acres in size, 40′ deep in places. (What are those birds preparing to do, I wonder.)|
Most of the objections to this proposal would be addressed if the project were redesigned to conform to the parcel’s current C1-C2 zoning. My friend Mike, whose father represented Minneapolis’s Third Ward in the 1950s, told me that when he read through his dad’s papers, he was struck by how many of the correspondences concerned zoning–scores of applicants thinking that their businesses should be made exceptions to the law. If the City is going to give special dispensation to Gerberding’s proposal, it had better lay out documented proof that the spot zoning will not have negative consequences for residents and City taxpayers. If the City decides to gloss over problems and approve the variances, it should provide just compensation for property owners on Aldrich and Franklin Avenues, who will be very negatively impacted by the development.
|Lyndale Avenue side, showing the parking entrance which would sit exactly opposite the Wedge Co-op’s parking lot. The Co-op has to hire cops to manage the traffic melee that ensues at peak shopping times. In this view, there’s one small bus, some cars, and, amazingly, no bicyclists or traffic cops. But the mysterious flock of birds is hovering over Franklin.|
Minneapolis currently is the nation’s most bike-friendly city, but this has had no discernible impact in relieving congestion at this crossroads of two major traffic arteries at an Interstate on/off-ramp. The complex with its 212 for-pay “district parking” spaces would make the intersection a bigger bottleneck for years to come. It astounds me how city officials and supporters of this proposal so easily dismiss the traffic congestion in the area: In the near future, everyone will be riding bicycles and buses. Just put some bike lockers for tenants in the apartment complex and voila! problem solved. Yeah, right.
Why does the City have a zoning code, if it is to be selectively applied according to developers’ “needs”? Approving spot zoning opens up the City to demands from other property owners for equal treatment. Cynics wonder if allowing selective zoning for this project might be a sneaky way for the City to open up other “transit hubs” in the area to higher density redevelopment. If that’s so, it’s a dangerous game they’re playing. Developers aren’t the only ones who can sue the City.
|Rooftop restaurant on the proposed project. Does the City so easily forget the recent war between local residents and owners of rooftop bar-restaurants in Uptown? Do they expect bar patrons here to be less rowdy, quietly whiling away the evening eating and drinking until closing time?|
To avoid community rancor and potential lawsuits, the City must do an objective harm/benefit analysis of the impact of the zoning variances on surrounding properties. This process must be transparent, with claims by City officials of neighborhood support backed up with specifics. The developer and his backers keep claiming that the project has significant community support. Council Member Lisa Bender said that some want the proposed building to be taller. (Quoted in CityPages blog ) Someone thinks this building should be seven or more stories high? Really? Who–and why? Let’s see the proof: an accounting of communications pro and con to the mayor and council members about this proposal. So far, local residents have gotten mostly opaqueness, not transparency, from City Hall. City officials, put your cards on the table, and let’s see what hand we’re being dealt.
|The northwest corner of Lyndale-Franklin, c. 1920. Streetcar tracks run on Lyndale, sidewalks have grassy boulevards with trees, and a gas pump sits on the Lyndale side of the building. No birds. Today, trees and grass are gone, vehicles fill the streets, and the building’s facade has been bricked up. It’s one of the city’s busiest crossroads. If you want gas, you can go to the cramped SA station at 2200 Lyndale.|
Gerberding began his Wedge presentation by telling us that he designed this project for the benefit of the neighborhood. Don’t do us any favors. If he finds it impossible to come up with an “economically feasible” development that conforms to the property’s zoning, let another more imaginative and resourceful developer take a crack at it.