Hillcrest Development closed its long-awaited purchase of the former Minneapolis schools headquarters for $4.05 million Monday.
"Work started today," Scott Tankenoff, managing partner for the development company, said Tuesday. "We've been waiting to purchase this building for a really, really long time."
Tankenoff said that the building's 165,000 square feet would be converted to office space, with an expected emphasis on creative occupations such as photography or graphic design studios. He said he expected initial tenants to move in early in 2015.
The Logan Park neighborhood emphasized using the landmark brick complex at 807 Broadway St. NE in a way that creates new jobs.
“It’s in a neighborhood that we have a very large investment in in northeast Minneapaolis," Tankenoff said, noting other nearby building renovations by Hillcrest. "It’s where our heart is. It’s in the center of gravity for us.”
Tankenoff said he thinks that the former light bulb factory's brick and timbered interiors will be attractive to tenants.
Hillcrest originally planned to close by the end of 2103, but a title issue delayed that.
The money from the sale will be used by the school district to help pay for the $41.,7 million new headquarters at 1250 Broadway that the district occupied two years ago. Hillcrst was chosen from a field of seven developers that put forward proposals for the property.
When Brent Fuqua moved the expanding bike shop he co-owns into a newly refurbished storefront across Central Avenue last summer, he suddenly had thousands of square feet in which to stash the bikes the business had stored in rented garages across northeast Minneapolis.
That new space included a big second floor. Meanwhile a buddy, Juston Anderson, had accumulated somewhere between 40 and 50 vintage bikes in 27 years of collecting.
“I thought people should see these bikes,” Fuqua said.
So during Sunday’s Open Streets event, in which bikers will take over 8-1/2 blocks of Central for six hours, the Cycling Museum of Minnesota will debut in the upstairs of Recovery Bike Shop, 2504 Central Av. NE.
From 19th century boneshakers, including one with a 60-inch drive wheel, to trendy Pusgley fat-tire bikes, cyclists will get a glimpse of cycling history that highlights important advances in biking from technology to alliances with good roads boosters to changing social mores. They’ll see those how changes affected bike safety and speed.
It’s a coming-out party for the museum, which organizers say is only in the formative stages and won’t be open regularly until sometime next year. “It was just a bunch of dudes with bikes,” Fuqua told a sneak
preview Thursday night that was intended to elicit interest and funds from an invitee list that dressed from cutoffs to suits.
The organization’s nine-member board has incorporated and plans to put on educational programs, conduct community rides, host family events, present lectures and show films.
The collection includes beginner bikes for kids, BMX bikes, mass-produced bikes by Sears, hand-made frames by some of the state’s noted builder, bikes on which some of the state’s best-known racers sped, and vintage machines such as a locally made tandem designed for courting couples.
But there are also prosaic bike collectibles, such as the 1950s prototype of a Park Tool Co. bike repair stand. It features such parts as a concrete-filled World War II shell casing, kitchen table legs and a 1937 Ford truck axle.
Anderson, 42, of Arden Hills, remembers looking at pictures as a kid of the high-wheeled bikes that dominated the 1880s but were typically affordable only to wealthy young men with strong legs. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how you could balance on something like that,’” he said. But earlier this month he completed a century (100-mile) ride on one at a collectors meeting.
The nursing home janitor said he takes a frugal approach to collecting. He said he reminds his wife: “There’s other hobbies I could get into. I could get into hunting or gambling or drinking.”
(Above: Recovery Bike co-owner with a bike that mimicked automobile streamlining; below: an 1897 courting tandem made by Deere and Webber of Minneapolis.)
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)
The Minneapolis Convention Center is headed for $14.5 million in renovations and improvements over the next two years, some of which are aimed at helping networking among people attending events, convention officials said Wednesday.
One change is the addition of a mezzanine in the center's main lobby. It could be used for events, and will have seating and a lounge where people attending events can meet with other people, according to Kristin Montag, spokeswoman for Meet Minneapolis, a convention and visitor promotion nonprofit. There are also plans to add a bar there.
The center's visitor center also will move within the main lobby to be closer to the main entrance on 2nd Avenue S. That will increase its visibility and make it more helpful to visitors seeking information about exploring the city, Montag said.
The main lobby stairs are being replaced with added elevators that are intended to add accessibility to that area. The visitor center area will also have two sets of stairs, one to the mezzanine and one to all levels, Montag said. The escalators serving three of the center’s exhibition halls will be replaced as they near the end of their life expectancy with versions that are more energy-efficient, continuing earlier upgrades elsewhere in the building.
The building will also get art from local artists through Corporate Art Force, to be displayed on a six-month rotation. Center Executive Director Jeff Johnson said the displays will add visual interest to the building and highlight local artists.
The center normally gets about $10 million annually in building improvements or renovations, Montag said. The center is financed by operating revenues and an assortment of local sales taxes, some of which also will help to pay for the new Vikings stadium.
School board members in Minneapolis Tuesday night authorized selling a key district-owned building at Hiawatha Avenue and East Lake Street to clear the way for redevelopment in exchange for assurance that key programs can remain there for up to eight more years.
The sale of 2225 E. Lake St. for about $8 million to Hennepin County would open the way to redevelop with housing, offices, a farmer market and a county social services hub at what is regarded as one of the most significant redevelopment opportunities along the Hiawatha Line. The building there is the former home of Brown Institute.
The school board also approved a resolution that sets a late August deadline for determining a future location for the building’s immigrant-focused adult basic education program serving South Side students, and for Transition Plus students who were slated to move to the building under the district’s enrollment plan. Transition Plus is a program that prepares older special education students for work and independent living. The approval also commits the district to securing a building for those programs by mid-2017.
The district said it is looking elsewhere in the Hiawatha-Lake area near South High School for space. Council Member Alondra Cano said that search will focus on purchasing and redeveloping the half-block between South’s athletic field and Lake Street. That’s the north half of the block directly west of the Midtown YWCA.
Although the county is named in the district resolution as the buyer of the district’s 2225 building, it likely would serve as a pass-through buyer. L&H Station Development has proposed 500 units of housing, 100,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of retail on the 6.4-acre site. Is proposal also includes space for the Midtown Farmers Market.
The school resolution authorized Chief Operating Officer Robert Doty to work out final details with the county on the sale. Doty said he’s hoping for a closing with the county in 90 to 120 days.
The school district previously tried to find affordable space for the 2225 programs in the area or even by leasing space in the redeveloped site, but decided that the costs were beyond its budget. Since then, more players, including Hennepin County, have gotten involved.
Mark Bollinger, Doty’s deputy, said in an interview that the districts wants Transition Plus and adult basic education to stay in the Hi-Lake area because of metro bus and rail connections. That also makes the Brown site attractive to developers.
Adult basic education students in south Minneapolis used to be schooled in the Lehman Center 2.6 miles west on Lake Street. When the district sold that building to a housing developer to help pay for the new district headquarters, they moved to 2225. North Side students were in the Broadway school building before it was torn down for the new district headquarters, then moved to North High School temporarily before moving into the new headquarters. Transition Plus is in the Wilder building at 3320 Elliot Av. S., but was scheduled to move to 2225 in 2015.
(Top photo: Existing former Brown building at 2225 E. Lake St.; right: proposal for redevelopment of the site. This article includes material from staff writer Eric Roper.)
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