Framework and Planning

Urban Planning Principles

For several decades portions of the Midtown Corridor have been perceived as places in decline, suffering from disconnection and disinvestment. This reputation lowered land values, which eventually lured new pioneers to invest in the community and brought new — if modest — stability to the area. As is common with the evolution of urban neighborhoods, those areas experiencing the greatest crisis are often the same areas where dramatic change can occur. It is sometimes as simple as changing perceptions. The following guiding principles were developed early in this planning process, providing a foundation for the Framework Plan: 

Reinforce Safe Environments

Providing an engaging and safe place for people to live, work, shop and play is essential to this entire effort and requires the transformation of real and perceived negatives - physical, economic and social - into positives. 

Be transit, pedestrian and bicycle friendly

The dominance of the automobile in American culture has had a profound impact on the urban landscape. There has recently been a re-awakening to the value of creating places that balance automobile use and other modes of transportation. Creation of this new commuter bike route has tremendous potential to set the tone for new urban redevelopment patterns in south Minneapolis.

Establish links to transit and support transit-oriented development

Lake Street and the Midtown Greenway will, in all likelihood, eventually carry public transit (local service on Lake, longer-range service in the Greenway). There must be frequent connections to transit throughout the corridor, including safe, well designed transit stations, weather protection and many other amenities. Transit-oriented development needs to be anticipated around future transit stations. These hubs will become significant activity areas as transit transforms the city.

Foster a sense of place and community

Community means means much more than a physical place; it suggests pride of ownership and interaction between people. It suggests shops that support the immediate area as well as the larger community. It suggests safe and comfortable streets and access to recreation. Private reinvestment has already re-energized Uptown, and the Lyn-Lake and 4th Avenue/Lake nodes are coming alive as well. These areas have become identifiable meeting places with a unique character that draws people back again and again. The Midtown Greenway is a major public investment that will connect these new places, with separate but complementary qualities.

Support compact, mixed use development patterns

The Lake Street Midtown Corridor has always been characterized by a mix of land uses in close proximity to one another. These patterns are still clearly evident in the neighborhoods. Now, with the consolidation of commercial uses at the major nodes and the promotion of 29th Street and the Greenway as a front door rather than a service door, the patterns of use will change. Still, the mix of uses should be strengthened and, over time, intensified. This should be most apparent with new compact development, including mixed income and multi-family housing and business growth between Lake Street and the Greenway.

Respect architectural form, scale and context

Many traditional architectural forms remain along Lake Street and in the neighborhoods. Two to three story commercial buildings give Lake Street its sense of containment and character. Old, three story walk-up apartments and turn of the century housing reflect the familiar Minneapolis patterns. While it need not replicate older models, new architecture should echo the scale and character of the traditional neighborhood

Incorporate environmentally sustainable practices

All matters of sustainability, from stormwater management to the use of recycled materials and the development of “healthy homes" and "green architecture," should be practiced in the corridor to further the area as a model for appropriate contemporary urban revitalization.

Support ‘greening’ as a key component of corridor development projects

All development and infrastructure improvements should incorporate a strong greening/public realm component. A linked network of open space and dedicated public parks will contribute immeasurably to the quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors in adjacent neighborhoods. The revitalization of this corridor must also provide improved access and connections to the Greenway, to existing parks and to regional recreational systems throughout the Twin Cities.

Balance economic vitality with quality of life

Successful urban environments consist of a mix of land uses, housing options, job opportunities and transit. Economic vitality must be reinforced throughout the corridor by promoting a balance of life-cycle housing, business development and recreational and “greening” opportunities, co-existing in close proximity to create thriving, safe and stable neighborhoods.

Target strategic public improvements to leverage private investment

Significant public investment has been targeted toward this corridor including infrastructure and streetscape improvements, environmental clean-up, and land assembly activities. Private development often follows the lead of these public improvement projects. It is crucial that the City and County continue to join forces with private investors to more effectively identify key development sites and other opportunities to maximize investment decisions in support of the development strategies outlined in this framework plan.

Balancing automobile use with other modes of transportation

Balancing automobile use with other modes of transportation

A mix of uses intensifies activity on the street.

A mix of uses intensifies activity on the street.

View of a public space between busway lanes on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colorado. The 'low floor' buses are accessible, quiet, and clean.

View of a public space between busway lanes on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colorado. The 'low floor' buses are accessible, quiet, and clean.

This narrowed street in Boulder, Colorado, successfully accommodates bicycles and a pedestrian crossing, while calming traffic.

This narrowed street in Boulder, Colorado, successfully accommodates bicycles and a pedestrian crossing, while calming traffic.