Community-based Features Breathe New Life Into 29th Street

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Composed of a parklet, flower beds, bump-outs, an Eat for Equity block dinner party, and more social spaces for kids and adults alike, the summer-fall 2017 29th Street Shared Street demonstration implemented promising improvements that could inspire more community-led changes along 29th Street.

Led by partner the Midtown Greenway Coalition, the shared street reflects the Partnership's community plans dating back to its 1999 Midtown Greenway Lake Street Corridor Framework Plan.

That plan recognized the opportunity for 29th Street to serve as a premier promenade neighboring the Greenway. This summer and fall saw a glimpse of what that could look like when, with the support and leadership of local decision-makers, one section of 29th Street was temporarily transformed.


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Planning began in June for the 29th Street Shared Street demonstration. Project elements were implemented beginning in August, and the installation formally ended on October 15. 

The project covered three blocks of E 29th Street adjacent to the Midtown Greenway, creating a shared space for cars, bikes, and pedestrians.


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The project was made possible through a grant from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) to vitalize active, healthy communities through temporary demonstrations. 

Over the course of June and July, three community meetings, including Spanish- and Somali-speaking meetings, engaged community members around discussions of what long-term changes community members would like to see on E 29th Street.

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Suggestions included a walking promenade along the Greenway, flowers, murals, and places for kids to play. These ideas will be shared in the recommendations to the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County that the Midtown Greenway Coalition develops.

In early August, a picnic table built by a Midtown Greenway Coalition board member was installed in the parklet implemented as part of the shared street project.

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Former Midtown Greenway Coalition employee Mahamed Cali expressed his gratitude for the parklet and picnic table on behalf of the Somali community. Cali pointed out that the Somali community loves to sit outside but that community members do not always have appropriate outdoor spaces available near their homes. The shared street elements, including the parklet and picnic table, offered social spaces for the community.

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In early September, pedestrian bumps-out (also known as curb extensions) and a street meander with orange bollards were installed. Bump-outs extend sidewalks into the parking lane, slowing traffic, reducing pedestrian crossing distances, and improving the ability for pedestrians to see oncoming motorists and vice versa. 

The street meander involved temporary bollards used to move traffic on a meandering path and encourage drivers to use more caution and slow down. A test barrier was installed as a temporary safety improvement for cyclists exiting the Greenway from the 18th Avenue ramp. During this time, the City of Minneapolis placed “Call 311 to Comment” signs, and the Midtown Greenway Coalition placed wayfinding signs that employed a design by a local artist.


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On Saturday, September 9th, the Midtown Greenway Coalition partnered with the Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts to create two flower planters for the parklet at East 29th Street and Bloomington Avenue. Several community members, project steering committee members, and individuals from the Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts came together at the planter event. 

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Representatives from the Semilla Center taught others how to create mosaics. The children helped crack the ceramic for the mosaic and encouraged everyone to try their hand. 

“When we create our mosaics, we get people involved, especially young people,” commented the Semilla Center’s Pastor Patrick Cabello Hansel. “Art is a way to bring people together. We’re happy to do this.”

At the end of the event, two beautiful mosaics were created, depicting scenes of people biking through a neighborhood. 

“This is a great way to create a beautiful woonerf,” said Soren Jensen, ‎Executive Director of Midtown Greenway Coalition. “Community members get to have a hand in creating their own space, and it’s a great result.”


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Toward the end of the implementation of the shared street demonstration elements, over 300 community members came together for a block party and dinner on Saturday, September 23rd on E 29th Street between Bloomington Avenue and 16th Avenue. The event was sponsored by the Midtown Greenway Coalition and included art activities, chess, table tennis, basketball, free Thai rolled ice cream from Loulou Sweet & Savory, the installation of flower beds, and dinner on the street catered by Eat for Equity. Kids and adults carved and painted signs depicting what they would like to see on E 29th Street, such as butterfly gardens and more gathering places.

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Through feedback collected via the 311 hotline and a survey sent to neighbors, the steering committee learned what demonstration project elements worked well and what elements created challenges. The bollards and curb bump outs resulted in some complaints about car navigation difficulties due to bollards, but other community members indicated their appreciation for the traffic-calming measures. 

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Neighbors enjoyed the parklet and the basketball hoop donated to the community. Several commented that the shared street elements made the route between the 18th Street Greenway exit and the 17th Avenue bike boulevard easier. Others commented that cleaning up the area and holding events in the shared street spaces helped limit crime. Neighbors were thrilled with the block party and would welcome the event again next year. Several community members remarked that they would like to see some of the shared street demonstration elements made permanent.


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With its conclusion on October 15th, the 29th Street Shared Street Demonstration was a successful, meaningful part of the East Phillips neighborhood over the summer and into the fall. The Midtown Greenway Coalition is interested in working with the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and elected officials to consider permanent and more extensive changes along E 29th Street between Cedar Avenue and the Midtown Global Market.

Partnership Participates in HGA Community Design Workshop

The Midtown Greenway Coalition (MGC), with partner Hennepin County, participated in the HGA Community Design Workshop October 12 and 13 to develop wayfinding system design plans for the Midtown Greenway. MGC applied to the design workshop opportunity on behalf of the Midtown Community Works Partnership and was one of four non-profits selected for the free-of-charge workshop.

The MCW Partnership and other partners share a vision, articulated in the 2016 Making the Connection: Midtown Greenway to Lake Street report, for better connecting the communities they serve through a comprehensive wayfinding system. This wayfinding system will be creative, effective, and culturally responsive and will bring new users to the Greenway, Lake Street, Minneapolis parks, and the National Park Service's Mississippi National River and Recreation area.

The Design Workshop asked MGC and partners to provide a design goal to an HGA design team tasked with working through feasible options in response to MGC's proposal for wayfinding system design. Although the timeframe to develop design concepts was short, MGC and partners were pleased with the solutions and next steps that HGA proposed.


  New map of the Midtown Greenway designed by HGA

New map of the Midtown Greenway designed by HGA

"We were excited about this project and happy to participate," said Soren Jensen, Director of the Midtown Greenway Coalition.

"We learned from HGA that having a good, well thought out map of your system to help orient users is an important and practical element of successful wayfinding," commented Jensen. "One immediate application of the materials developed during the design workshop is to update the Midtown Greenway Coalition website with the Midtown Greenway map designed by HGA."

  Old Midtown Greenway map on the Midtown Greenway Coalition's website

Old Midtown Greenway map on the Midtown Greenway Coalition's website


The design charette for the wayfinding system included discussions about branding distinct,tactile signage and wayfinding tools, like signs and maps attached to benches or bike racks. The HGA design team described the signage concept for the system as a hierarchy of signs that are stylistically consistent throughout the whole system.

"It was exciting to see some of the wayfinding elements that are included in the Making the Connection: Midtown Greenway to Lake Street report put into context with the designs HGA developed," said Crystal Myslajek, Hennepin County's manager of the Midtown Community Works program, who participated in the design workshop.

  Signage Concept Off Greenway

Signage Concept Off Greenway

Signs can be pulled out into the community to connect people to the Midtown Greenway, and the wayfinding system could include opportunities for neighborhoods, with the help of local artists, to design system elements that reflect the local community.

"Helping people find and feel welcome on the Midtown Greenway through inviting, culturally relevant signs and visual cues is important to making the Greenway a more equitable space," said Myslajek.

  Wayfinding Concept Bike Rack Signage

Wayfinding Concept Bike Rack Signage

  Wayfinding Concept Bench Signage

Wayfinding Concept Bench Signage

  Wayfinding Concept Post Sign

Wayfinding Concept Post Sign

  Wayfinding Concept Minimal Intervention

Wayfinding Concept Minimal Intervention

  Signage Concept on Greenway

Signage Concept on Greenway


The HGA design team designed different levels of intervention options, from minimum to maximum, to achieve wayfinding system goals. Painted sections near entrances and exits on the Greenway could address safety concerns and wayfinding issues at those points. Painting could be minimal, in one section only, or extend past the entrance and exit points and include painted vertical wall maps.

  Wayfinding Concept Minimum Intervention

Wayfinding Concept Minimum Intervention

  Wayfinding Concept Moderate Intervention

Wayfinding Concept Moderate Intervention

  Wayfinding Concept Maximum Intervention

Wayfinding Concept Maximum Intervention


The HGA team helped visualize how the bridges spanning the Greenway could assist with wayfinding. Bridges could be painted with the name of the street, or be painted different colors correlating to a neighborhood or area. At night, lights under the bridges illuminating the Greenway could address both safety and wayfinding issues.

  Bridge Concept Grouping by Neighborhood

Bridge Concept Grouping by Neighborhood

  Bridge Concept Grouping by Street

Bridge Concept Grouping by Street

  Bridge Concept Night Lighting by Neighborhood

Bridge Concept Night Lighting by Neighborhood

  Bridge Concept Night Lighting by Neighborhood

Bridge Concept Night Lighting by Neighborhood


"I look forward to taking these design concepts to potential funders and to planners at the City and County as we further work to develop a wayfinding system that serves the Midtown Greenway and the surrounding communities," said Myslajek.