Architects from the University of Minnesota's
Metropolitan Design Center
led a workshop on Nov. 20 at the school, which dovetailed with an earlier talk about creating a framework for the future of the University District
The district includes the university campus and its surrounding neighborhoods.
At the event, which drew nearly 100 attendees, presenters Ignacio San Martin and Marcy Schulte challenged people to think in terms of connection, stressing sustainable, walkable communities.
Organizer Ted Tucker, a 40-year resident of the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood who serves on the University District Alliance, a board that's trying to improve the area, says it builds on the "transformational visioning" process that the group initiated.
The district faces unique challenges, with several large institutions in close quarters, such as the university, Augsburg College, and nearby clinics and hospitals. "We're trying to improve connections with surrounding neighborhoods so it's mutually beneficial," says Tucker.
At this early stage, the group is just trying to keep the lines of communication open as opposed to laying out any specific plans. "We want to have neighborhood residents talking to developers," he says. "They can get accustomed to what residents might be concerned about."
Conversely, he says, "Residents can hear about how developers operate and what they're looking for."
At the recent workshop, San Martin conveyed a perspective that "goes back to geology, landforms, and how the river works with adjacent neighborhoods and the ecology of the area," Tucker explains.
On a map San Martin pinpointed 10 contested territories that are key places "where there are lots of different forces coinciding."
For instance, there's the question of what should happen with a right-of-way that's known as Granary Road, which once served the Burlington Northern Railroad. It starts at one end of the Stone Arch Bridge and continues through the industrial area in Southeast, near the new TCF stadium. Part of it is planned to be a two-lane road. There's been discussion about extending it. Some people believe it should be used for trucks. "There are different ideas on the best way to use the land available," Tucker says.
The events give residents and other community stakeholders the chance to hear ideas for the area and react, Tucker says, adding that their feedback will help inform the process as it moves forward.
Source: Ted Tucker, representative of the University District Alliance
Writer: Anna Pratt