What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Posts about People and neighborhoods

What happens after students graduate from high school?

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: July 16, 2014 - 10:33 AM

The Minnesota Department of Education released a new data tool this month that tracks how students fared after graduating from Minnesota's high schools. 

The state can now track how many students completed college and even what schools they attended. It's called the Minnesota Statewide Longitdunal Education Data Systrem (SLEDS). 

Here is how the class of 2008 in the Minneapolis Public Schools district fared in receiving post-secondary education. 

Feel free to discuss below, and if you want to see more information visit the SLEDS website here.

City beaches close for a day or two for coolness

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: July 14, 2014 - 3:48 PM

If you're going to swim in Minneapolis, you'll be doing it without a lifeguard -- the eight park beaches and two water parks are closed Monday -- and likely Tuesday as well.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced the closing Monday because the temperature didn't meet the minimum threshold of 65 degrees.  A water park at Northeast Park and the North Commons water park operated by the YMCA followed suit.

With one weather service forecasting a temperature of 63 degrees for 11 a.m.Tuesday, when the weather closure determination is made, the closure may well extend another day. But the forecast calls for a sufficiently high temperature on Wednesday that the beaches could reopen.

Key bike-ped link open on West Bank

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: July 14, 2014 - 3:25 PM

A key bike and pedestrian connection between the University of Minnesota and downtown Minneapolis is now open on the West Bank, and will get a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on Sunday.

The path links Bridge 9 over the Mississippi River with bike lanes and sidewalks on S. 2nd Street. That means the Dinkytown Greenway in the rail trench adjoining the main campus and farther on, the Transitway between Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, will now be linked with bike routes into downtown. The link bypasses a steep drop down to W. River Parkway that previously provided a less-direct link.

The one-quarter mile link passes under the 10th Avenue Bridge and Interstate 35W (pictured in photo above). A culvert allowing the conenction was built into the reconstruction of the collapsed 35W bridge. The total cost of the link is $3 million.

Although the path has been usable since early July, city pols will hold an opening ceremony on Sunday.  Two groups of bikers will meet at Bluff Street Park near the west end of Bridge 9 at 1:30 p.m. One group will leave the Gopher football stadium, 420 23rd Av. SE, and the other will depart Gateway Park, N. 2nd Street and Hennepin Avenue, Both depart at 1 p.m.

(Staff photo by Steve Brandt)

A forgotten 29th Street getting new attention

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: July 11, 2014 - 12:57 PM

A street that Minneapolis has turned its back on is finally headed for a little love.

29th Street stutter-steps its way across much of south Minneapolis, running a few blocks then vanishing completely only to re-emerge a few blocks away.

It’s pocked with potholes, curbs have eroded completely in some blocks, and its once-decorative fencing has turned rusty or filled with chain-linked gaps. That’s especially true between Lyndale and Hennepin avenues. It's a normal uninterrupted street only east of Hiawatha Avenue.

“It’s really not a street that I would walk down alone after nine at night. It’s very alley-like,” said Kayla Mueller, who has lived in Uptown for the last two years.

She’s one of several people who focused attention on the street during a recent discussion of how to improve connections between Lake Street and the Midtown Greenway sponsored by the Lake Street Council and Midtown Greenway Coalition. Four more such sessions are scheduled.

The worst section of street is also the focus of a series of three charrettes organized by Tenth Ward Council Member Lisa Bender. She’s focusing on the Lyndale to Hennepin section, which is scheduled for public improvements in 2016.

“I think it’s basically falling into the earth, Bender said.  “The whole thing is in terrible condition.”

That’s not the best advertisement for a hot stretch of real estate that’s added almost 3,000 housing units along the greenway in the past 10 years.

29th has a quirky personality in that stretch. The block behind the Rainbow (now Cub) grocery is vacated.  The west end dead-ends into the Mozaic complex. Bender said she’s heard public sentiment for a resplitting of space that allows vehicles and meets needs of property owners but gives more priority to pedestrians. The streets could potentially be used more flexibly for gatherings like a farmer’s market, she said.

Original greenway planning called for a promenade along the linear park’s north lip but little more than sidewalks emerged from that. One complication will be the fence next to the greenway trench, which is regarded by some as a protected historical artifact. It combines concrete pillars and iron railings.

The next charrette session focusing on the Hennepin-Lyndale section of 29th will be held on July 21 from 6 to-7:30 p.m. at Walker Community Library, 2880 Hennepin Av. S. Beder said it will feature several possible configurations.  A final design will be discussed at a fall meeting.

Meanwhile, Joyce Wisdom, Lake Street Council executive director, is hoping that the series of joint council-coalition meetings will generate support for something she’s been advocating since greenway planning began some 15 years ago. That’s improvements designed to help Lake Street shoppers find the greenway, and greenway users find businesses on Lake.

Interestingly, although a majority of those who filled out a council survey reported feeling fairly safe between Lake Street and the greenway, their second biggest priority is increased lighting, something nearly two-thirds favor. That was topped only by adding bike markings or lanes between Lake and the greenway. Better wayfinding signs to businesses and other destinations, and protected intersections were also supported by more than half of those surveyed.

The remaining Lake Street-greenway workshops are scheduled for July 21, 5-7 p.m., Heart of the Beat Puppet and Mask Theatre, 1500 E. Lake St; July 29, 5-7 p.m., Harriet Brewing, 3036 Minnehaha Av. S.; July 30, 7-9 p.m., Midtown Greenway Coalition office, 2834 10th Av. S., greenway level Suite 2; and Aug. 4, 5-7 p.m., Safari restaurant, 3010 4th Av. S.

(Photo: This section of W. 29th Street shows its crumbling curb and dented fence. Staff photo by Steve Brandt)

It's try, try again for a faded apartment gem

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: July 10, 2014 - 3:06 PM

Is there a developer out there who can rescue a handsome old apartment building from more than 10 years on the city’s boarded building list?

City development officials this week asked for development proposals for 628 E. Franklin Av., nearly two years after the city took control of the building. The proposal deadline is Sept. 5.

The 1904 building appears to have decent bones but could use an extensive facelift.  The city’s development department said it’s open to business, and rental or ownership housing proposals. It said it will give priority to fully funded business or market-rate housing proposals.

The agency's Cherie Shoquist said it decided to seek proposals now because the city started getting inquiries from developers. She said she's expecting proposals for higher-end rental housing.

“The building’s so beautiful and has so much potential," Shoquist said.

But the neighborhood is feeling cut out. Ventura Village board chair Thor Adam said the neighborhood group learned of the agency's RFP from a reporter's call. "To be removed from that is concerning,:" he said. Years ago, the neighborhood group expressed a preference for ownership housing such as condos to offset the area's high concentration of rental housing, Adam said. He said the project also needs to be considered in the context of larger discussions about future use of city-owned lots in the area. 

Shoquist said the group will have an opportunity to review and comment on proposals, and that's better than ruling out potential usines of the building upfront. .  “We encourage the developers to contact the neighborhood and bring letters of support form the neighborhood," she said.

The structure was built as luxury apartments, but has fallen since on hard times. It sits not far from the 5th Avenue S. freeway entrance, between the major commuting routes of Portland and Park avenues.

The city in essence bought the building in 2012 from the Sabri family trust after Azzam Sabri, the building’s most recent owner, died of cancer in 2011. The purchase went through the Twin Cities Community Land Bank as an intermediary. Sabri got the building after a court fight with previous owner Jason Geschwind, to whom he provided financing.

The development agency insisted that he follow through with Geschwind’s commitment to create condos. Sabri wanted to switch to commercial reuse, but ignored the city’s requests for details on financing, marketing and other specifics.

Sabri's brother Basim, also a developer, said he has no interest is making a proposal to the city because he likes to work independently. "It's a gorgeous building," he said.


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