• 15Nov

    For 2 years I have worked with the Urban Land Institute, Rose Center for Public Leadership, and National League of Cities on a project to provide guidance on best practices for urban / suburban commercial corridors. I was approached to be part of the project after a presentation of the Uptown project, which is held up as a national best practice. That project is featured starting on page 22 of the report.

    ULI Building Healthy Corridors 


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  • 09Sep

    The Miracle Mile redevelopment is an incredible opportunity for the entire community. Lets hope we do it right this time. Neighbors are energized and excited about the possibilities. Unfortunately proposed designs to date have left many concerned about both public safety and a lack of conformance to urban design principles. photo Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 3.09.11 PM_zpsn7nb3waz.png

    The good news is that everyone seems to want to get a redevelopment done, and there seems to be little concern about the added density on that site. Neighbors feel that TIF even beyond what is being discussed could be justified with a proper design. Patrick Seeb has offered to help coordinate work with the University of Minnesota Design standards to address Urban Design issues. Public works is potentially willing to consider a more urban design of that street. I would love to see the utilities cleaned up in the area as part of this and we have experience doing this with TIF.

    The most important facade is the 16th Ave side as that is what faces the community. Currently it is unclear if this will be sufficiently activated. What is particularly frustrating is that the long series of engagements offered to the Slatterly Park Neighborhood on the “Buckeye” project seems to be missing from this process. I fear there is an attempt to simply gain the support of 4 council members behind the scenes rather than have meaningful collaboration. I suspect that consensus could be reached by simply rotating the current proposal 90 degrees, placing retail on 16th and the grocer entrance on Center Street, and lining up the intersection correctly. However I certainly can’t speak for the neighbors. Further I suspect that this type of design would be more likely to justify TIF to help with public realm improvements. Side parking lots are common in for grocers in communities with form based codes.

    The proposed intersection of Center Street & 16th Ave SW currently suggests a jog of up to 15 degrees which is both unnecessary and dangerous for pedestrians, especially children, seniors and those with a disability. An activated 16th street will likely require on street parking both to service retail and buffer traffic. According to our bicycle master plan 16th should also get some sort of bike treatment. In this case, protected lanes running on the East side of the roadway would probably best connect cyclists to Kutzky Park.

    Here are a couple of fantastic images created by a neighbor. This design would fit nicely in the the available space.

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 2.48.30 PM_zpsrf0tvyje.png

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 2.48.49 PM_zpsnhhasjyh.png

    This should be easy for the council to accomplish… Unless there is a majority just willing to ignore the issues and pass the development without addressing concerns. I would love to have an easy one for once… It will be interesting to read the staff report & recommendations as well as the actions of P&Z. Right now multiple neighborhoods seem quite concerned. Strangely the property owner Javon Bea has met with some council members but not others, additionally there was a strange attempt to hide his involvement with the project at a previous neighborhood meeting. There is no need for this as Kutzky Park has a history of supporting good redevelopments.

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  • 11Jun

    I was introduced to the Urban Land Institute through work with the National League of Cities. In particular while serving as the National Chair for community & economic development I was offered the opportunity to work on a ULI team focused on building health corridors. You can read about that here. My involvement with the “Uptown Project” made me a natural fit for this project.

    I have been blown away with the incredible wealth of knowledge that ULI is. Here are a few recent features that I found particularly interesting and applicable to Rochester. In the future I would like to continue my involvement with ULI.

    Here is an article featuring Christopher Leinberger and others discussing advantages and concerns of increasing density in neighborhoods. This applies to places like Kutzky Park, Folwell, and the Historic SW.

    Here is an article on trail oriented development. This applies to places like the Park at Kutzky.

    Finally there is an article on resilience featuring Peter Cavaluzzi, one of the architects of the DMC plan. This article is not yet available on line, but it is fantastic and speaks to the need build sustainability into the DMC districts.

    Learning from the best is part of how I prepare to do my job.

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  • 05Jun

    My take in short are that these are fantastic. I hope we can more broadly apply these. I just hope neither staff nor lobbying organizations have too much success weakening these. As always, give me your comments.

    Proposed Building Guidelines

    Proposed Street Guidelines

    Proposed District Guidelines

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  • 10Sep

    Uptown photo IMG_9278_zps2j96ce0p.jpeg

    The changing nature of the Uptown area has created tremendous interest in the area. In addition to the project we approved last night, there is another large project in the works. The Grandville apartments that were valued at $25 million just sold for $56 million. Commercial valuations on that stretch are up more than 30% since the project started.  While we have seen this happening downtown its great to see the prosperity spread to a formerly blighted area.

    My hope is that we will continue to make these investments in key areas. I would love to transform North and South Broadway in much the same way.

    The total investment in public art in this area was just under 500k.

    Most importantly this area used to be unsafe for cars, transit, bikes and pedestrians. In not accommodates users of all modes, ages, and ability levels. Seniors at Shorewood can now walk to a restaurant. Daycares can now take kids to the park.

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  • 30Jun

    The Mayo Civic Center rehabilitation & expansion process started before I was elected.  The current plans do a nice job of creating a unified and attractive facade on the West and South sides.  The East side sadly continues to hide Mayo park.  Over the last 6 years I have raise a number of concerns about ignoring perhaps the ugliest side, the North side.

    Center Street is the gateway to the Eastside neighborhood.   Today it is pretty ugly, but in 10 years, it could be special.  Removing the ramp over West center street, redeveloping the Wells Fargo site.  Better development around the Residence at Old Town Hall and some other accumulated lands could really help.  We could also create a better connection to the river.  One of the easiest things is doing a little to help the North side of the Mayo Civic Center.

    We don’t have much money at this point, but here is a relatively inexpensive concept to help a little.  Those of you that love concrete and blank steel doors, sorry in advance.

    Mayo Civic Center North Concept

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  • 06Dec

    City taxpayer are made whole in the transaction as promised. This marks another step forward in the creation of the permanent UMR campus near Soldiers Field.

    For the past several months I have been working with the University of Minnesota real estate department on the sale of 601 1st Avenue SW, 609 1st Avenue SW and 114 6th Street SW to the U of M for the future UMR campus and on the settlement of special assessments related to the reconstruction of 6th Street SW.    We have wrapped all of the costs into a purchase agreement.  Proceeds to the city will be paid through a deduction from the $14.0 million in sales tax funds allocated to UMR.  A portion of the proceeds will reimburse the downtown abatement fund for the land acquisition and related costs.  The remainder will be applied against the special assessments for the 6th Street reconstruction project.  Read more…

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  • 27Sep

    Everyone that follows me on any form of media is probably sick of hearing how much I love our new Peoples Food Coop building.  Myself and 6 other board members took a beating from some pretty misinformed and often abusive individuals over our support of the merger with the La Crosse Co-op and subsequent relocation.  Barb Upton still comes to just about every City Council meeting to spout off on the topic.

    At this point let me be very clear; We were right, you were wrong, get over it!

    One of the the reasons the Coop will be so successful is that it creates a great place for people to meet.  I love to sit there and people watch.  I see so many friends new and old on a daily basis.  Here is a great read sent to me by coop staff.  Enjoy…


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  • 17May

    I look forward to being able to make radical decisions on Broadway that MN-DOT would not allow.  Putting an “M” up on a skyway, for example…  I think as we reclaim our roadway we should shut it down to cars for a day and hold a celebration.  This is a key step towards making the East side of Broadway prosper.

    Details on getting Broadway back are below.  This is not final.  I would not that this delays payments to Rochester more that I had expected.   I expect that this will happen in 3Q 2013

    I am excited to share that today the bill to provide funding for our TH 63 release to the City and County per Agreements 00522 and 00523 will be passed and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor soon.  MnDOT is processing documents to accomplish the permanent release of TH 63 to you before the month ends, and after MSAS and CSAH designations occur, turnback payments can follow.

    It is our intention make payment of $3,000,000 to the City of Rochester and $10,000,000 to Olmsted County in July of this year.  It is also our intention to make payments for years 2014 ($13,000,000 to the City and $10,000,000 to the County) and 2015 ($10,000,000 to the City).  If for any unforeseen reason funding becomes unavailable or delayed, I assure you that MnDOT will work to amend our agreements in order to resolve issues to our mutual satisfaction.

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  • 08May

    I am as supportive of this as one can be.

    Edit: wasn’t the best cut and paste, tried to fix

    FROM:                 Phil Wheeler, AICP, Planning Director

    Mitzi A. Baker, AICP, Assistant Planning Director

    RE:                        Rochester Planning & Policy Initiative:  Funding the Urban New Normal (F.U.N.N.)

    Over the past year, our staff has addressed the needs, inputs, and process for a review of local policies that impact land use and transportation patterns. As mentioned in staff presentations at separate meetings of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Rochester Olmsted Council of Governments in January, the demographic and fiscal changes affecting our community necessitate a new approach to development and redevelopment. Assessing our policies and their impact on the future of Rochester is an essential step in updating, or developing, local land use and transportation plans and policies.  Expected growth provides great opportunity, but unless we plan – and plan to succeed –the City could fail to capture the best of the opportunities that lie ahead and could jeopardize the long term financial sustainability of the City. Read more…

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