City crews are installing 375 'meter hitches' around downtown and along Lake Street, restoring the parking meter to its honored place as a favored bike lockup spot.
The metal rings will provide even more security than the old big-head meters, which at least served as an obstacle to anyone trying to slide a locked bike up and off a meter standard. The new meter poles with only a slender number display were not a deterrent.
The 375 hitches now being wrenched into place are being paid for with a $37,000 federal non-motorized transportation grant. That's on top of the 180 installed last year, paid for the city and local businesses.
About 250 of the current batch had been installed before the snow arrived Tuesday. But Atif Saeed, parking systems manager for the city, said the work will continue even with winter setting in, because the demand will likely be there.
"Bikers surprise me in this town, sometimes," he said.
Car sharing is growing every day in Minneapolis.
Months after announcing that they were expanding their fleet, Zipcar will soon start parking vehicles on city streets in addition to existing parking ramp locations (seen above). They will join Car2Go, whose Smart cars can be parked in any on-street parking spot throughout the city.
Unlike Car2Go, which specializes in one-way travel, Zipcars are intended to be reserved and returned at the same location (see existing locations here). A city staff report has recommended 17 locations where they will be parked.
Zipcars also differ from Car2Go because of the variety of vehicles, which range from SUVs to sedans and hatchbacks.
The vehicles cost $8.75 an hour to rent, or $72 a day, without a monthly commitment. For $50 a month, Zipcar subscribers pay reduced hourly and daily rates.
One of the largest car sharing companies in the country, Zipcar will pay the city about $40,000 for the right to use the spots. The city will also provide signage indicating which spots are reserved for Zipcars.
The city's transportation and public works committee will review and vote on the proposal next Tuesday. It then needs approval from the full city council.
Here are the new locations:
View Zipcars in a larger map
The City Council took its first step Friday toward allowing the controversial rooftop signs that have snagged a $400 million development deal for the east end of downtown.
The signs feature the logo of Wells Fargo, which would occupy two new massive office buildings adjacent to the new Vikings stadium. They would be visible only from the air, likely during football game aerial shots.
They appear to be a deal breaker for Wells Fargo, who says the signage is an important reflection of their $300 million investment in the building.
The Vikings fiercely oppose the idea, since it could harm their naming rights package. The team apparently has the ability to scuttle the entire deal, since it requires approval from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. The authority and the team must make decisions unanimously.
On Friday, council member Lisa Goodman announced her intent to introduce an ordinance that would allow for the signs. Mayor R.T. Rybak has said he supports Wells Fargo's proposal.
But it appears unlikely that Goodman's ordinance can make it to final approval this year, given that the council's final meeting is next Friday and it would likely have to go through the committee process. How that will play out will become clearer next week.
City officials unveiled more details Thursday behind the massive $400 million development project next to the new Vikings stadium, just over a week before the City Council must approve it.
The mayor and developer Ryan Cos. said the deal's 1.1 million square feet of office space represents the largest city office development in 22 years. Wells Fargo's plans to own the property is the largest corporate commitment in city history, they said. The plan also features 400 apartments and about 22,000 square feet of retail.
The city component of the package involves borrowing about $62 million to fund a public park and part of a new parking ramp, all on land currently owned by the Star Tribune. The bonds would be repaid with parking revenues from the new ramp and an existing underground one next to the Metrodome, backed by a guarantee spanning at least 10 years from Ryan.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing stadium construction, will pay for about 35 percent of the ramp. The authority will also pay $10.7 million to construct skyways.
The largest remaining obstacle appears to be Wells Fargo's insistence on having their bright red and yellow logo atop the office building, prohibited under city ordinance. The Vikings oppose this because of a potential detrimental effect on selling stadium naming rights. An amendment to the city's zoning code would be required for the signage, city staff said Thursday.
"It's an important issue for Wells Fargo that has to be resolved before they'll make a final commitment to moving forward," said Ryan Vice President Rick Collins on Thursday.
Rybak supports the signage proposal, but when it will be settled remains unclear. The council's final meeting of the year -- before seven new council members take office -- is next Friday. Collins said Wells Fargo could ink a deal contingent on the signage passing, which city staff said could occur in 2014.
The park will span approximately one and two-thirds blocks, with the remaining third allocated to Ryan for residential development. The city will own it and pay for its operations, a responsibility Rybak would like to see contracted to the Park Board. Fundraising will be required to support those costs, Rybak said.
Much of the $18 million in city funds allocated for the park will pay for site acquisition and demolition of the Star Tribune building. About $1.1 million will be left over to build a very basic park. The Vikings have agreed to pay $1 million for improvements.
Rybak said he hopes that the park eventually features a playing field and other amenities -- such as a possible restaurant -- that will attract visitors. He said it will also be a "front yard" for the new residential properties.
"This is a place that I hope will be very active," Rybak said.
One hiccup in the vision for the park has been Park and Portland Avenues, which intersect the two blocks but won't be closed after objections from key officials at Hennepin County. The county owns the streets. A city staff report says they may be instead "redesigned to be narrowed and have a more 'park-like' feel."
"I believe Park and Portland are way too big...We have many examples of roadways that go through parks, but they don't look like Park and Portland do today," Rybak said.
The city is also expecting to make money from selling the development rights atop the new parking ramp. As soon as the plan is passed, they will seek proposals for that space so the ramp and development can be developed in sync.
Asked whether building a major parking ramp next to the future intersection of several transit lines represents a clash of urban visions, Rybak observed that the stadium bill required 2,500 parking spaces near the new Vikings stadium.
"Those ramps were going to be built anyway as part of the stadium. The only difference is we've used them to leverage the" largest corporate office commitment in city history, Rybak said.
"My strong advice to the council members and mayor who are continuing is to put tight restrictions on parking in that area, to create the walkable district that we want," he added. "It's already very transit oriented."
Collins would not say what price they were paying for the Star Tribune land. Previous estimates from city staff showed it would net the company about $38 million.
The plan will go through several committees next week before expected approval on Dec. 13, the final city council meeting. In addition to approving the project itself, the council will need to override a decision by the Heritage Preservation Commission to stop demolition of the Star Tribune building.
A Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board committee Wednesday approved a $66,051,956 budget for 2014. That represents no increase in the board's operating fund, but it does include $1.1 million spefically to remove and replace ash trees on city boulevards and in parks.
That $1.1 million will be raised by a special tax levy the park board must renew each year. Superintendent Jayne Miller said the fund would have to be renewed for eight years to remove and replace all of the nearly 40,000 ash trees on public land in the city.
Miller has indicated that staffing and organizational efficiences, including new equipment, have put a lid on expenses for the year.
Of the $66 million operating budget, $47.6 million comes from local property taxes. The remainder is from local government aid from the state, and other sources.
The budget, developed since June, was approved by the administration and finance committee without discussion. It will likely be approved by the board as a whole in tandem wth the city council budget Dec. 11 at City Hall at 6:05 p.m.
|Bridge construction (1)||Property problems (1)|
|Public records (56)||Minnesota campaigns (1)|
|Minnesota legislature (1)||Minnesota state senators (1)|
|Education (1)||Minneapolis Edison (1)|
|Minneapolis Henry (1)||Minneapolis North (2)|
|Minneapolis Roosevelt (3)||Minneapolis Southwest (3)|
|Minneapolis Washburn (3)||Democrats (1)|
|Morning Hot Dish newsletter (1)||Parks and recreation (191)|
|People and neighborhoods (591)||Politics and government (807)|
|Public safety (403)||Urban living (281)|
|Local business (270)||Minneapolis elections (6)|