Minneapolis will gain new connection to riverfront
A little Dutch inspiration will drive the design of a new park being constructed in a former railroad right-of-way in the Mill District in Minneapolis.
The Mill City Quarter housing development will feature the first woonerf in Minneapolis. Woonerfs, a popular urban planning idea in the Netherlands, are meant to encourage pedestrian and bike traffic, while allowing for low-speed motorists and some parking.
The woonerf will liken the area to the Mississippi riverfront, taking advantage of the right-of-way where trains once steamed to industrial areas along the river.
The Mill City development is also the first test of a new Minneapolis park dedication ordinance that allows officials to get an easement, allowing the public to use private property to get to the river instead of requiring developers to donate land or money.
This new concept has bothered some park commissioners, and is still being worked out.
Mill City Quarter itself will add 150 units of downtown housing aimed groups not typically targeted by large developers — older residents making less than 60 percent of area median income, including 45 units for those with memory problems.
The woonerf will bisect the two new buildings, leading to the Park Board-owned riverfront and trails. a riverfront visitors’ center has been proposed for near the 3rd Avenue Bridge.
There will be 80 parking spaces on the woonerf, with colored pavement delineating pedestrian, bike, and other zones.
Downtown Macy’s building nearing redevelopment
The St. Paul Port Authority bought the former Macy’s building in downtown St. Paul in January of 2014, hoping to save the site from uninspired or inadequate redevelopment. The building has been vacant for two years.
The Port Authority, however, was having difficulties finding a buyer for the mammoth 363,000 square-foot building.
The 2.25 acre prime location is now discussed as a possible location for a Minnesota Wild practice facility, although the layout of the building could pose challenges to constructing an ice rink and necessary facilities.
Last week, the Wild confirmed rumors that they were in conversation with the Port Authority regarding the possibility of purchasing the property and developing it as a practice facility.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said that it would serve multiple purposes and not be a closed-off, private building.
The building is in a part of town that has potential for future development. It is surrounded by the vibrant Lowertown and Rice Park areas, but has not received the same level of investment as those areas. The City of St. Paul believes it is critical to develop this area further.
The bulky, rundown building would cost a prohibitive $15 million to demolish, and $27 million to renovate for new, mixed-use purposes.
The Wild have been considering a stand-alone practice facility for years, and want to contribute to downtown’s continued revitalization, as well as improve facilities for their own players.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a state financing plan for a practice facility across from the Xcel Energy Center in 2009, and other plans have fallen apart as well. The Wild, though, strongly favor a downtown location and are currently working out details to see what could be done with the Macy’s building.
Terrorist group al-Shabab threatens Mall of America
In a video released on Feb. 22 by al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda linked rebel group in Somalia, the Mall of America was among a new list of Western civilian targets the group has called for Muslims to attack. The threat was initially met with concern across the local and national community. According to the Star Tribune, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urged shoppers to be extra vigilant while local and federal law enforcement agencies monitored the threat and mall police added extra security measures. Though the threat did lead to the cancellation of two local school field trips to the mall this week, the threat has had a generally more symbolic impact.
In the Twin Cities, the Somali-American community issued a statement reminding the community of its unity and their desire not to be misrepresented by the extremism of al-Shabab, according to KSTP News. In an interview with the news station, Minneapolis City Council member Abdi Warsame said, “We are Americans. This is our county, and we love this country and we’re patriotic. Al-Shabab doesn’t represent the Somali-American community. Mothers are upset, fathers are upset, our children—they don’t know what’s going on but they can see the tension in the faces of their parents.”
While locally the threat has unified the community, nationally it has been used as a source of division. Because of earlier political stalemates over the federal budget, the Department of Homeland Security is facing a shutdown. One of the key issues being used to garner support for continued funding of the Department is the mall threat. In recent interviews this week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said if Congress fails to pass the budget, the DHS will not be able to effectively respond to threats like those on the Mall of America.
DEPARTMENT OF MULTICULTURAL LIFE
Semester’s first Fresh Friday, “Women and Power” talk
Today, the semester’s first Fresh Friday, “Je Suis… : Reflecting on Charlie Hebdo, Islamophobia, and freedom of speech,” will be held in the Cultural House from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This reflective event will open with a “gallery” walkthrough regarding the recent events in Paris and their context, and will conclude with discussion of freedom of speech, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and forms of personal resonance. Snacks will be provided.
“Women and Power in Post-Conflict Africa” will be held on Monday, March 2nd, in the Weyerhaeuser Boardroom. Guest speaker Aili Tripp will be giving a talk based on her book, Women and Power in Post-Conflict Africa, which examines the gender-related consequence of the decline of major conflict in African countries over the past 20 years, and discusses the reasons for the greater allowance of women’s rights in such post-conflict countries. A light lunch will be provided.
“In the Kitchen with . . . MJO” will be held on Tuesday, March 3rd, in the Cultural House from 6 to 8 p.m.
Battle of the Bands, Recess! this weekend
Program Board will hold Battle of the Bands this Friday in 10K, starting at 10:00. Come show up and support your favorite Macalester bands! The winner will be the opening act at this year’s Springfest.
Recess! will take place in the Field House this Saturday, at 11:00. Come for snacks and play! The event is being put on by Campus Activities and Operations.