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

MAP: Mpls. chemical dependency treatment centers

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: February 21, 2015 - 10:04 AM

Our story today documented the debate over a proposed housing facility for recovering addicts at a historic mansion on Blaisdell Avenue.

Below is a map of all facilities licensed to treat chemical dependency in the state, according to the Department of Human Services. The largest cluster of them is in six neighborhoods surrounding the intersection of Interstates 35 and 94.

The new facility on Blaisdell Avenue would have fall under this category since it would offer only housing, rather than any treatment.

Man who shot at sleeping ex-girlfriend charged with attempted murder

Posted by: Libor Jany under Public safety Updated: February 20, 2015 - 4:16 PM

UPDATE: Police spokesman John Elder said Friday that the gunman used a Norinco 7.62X39 semi-automatic rifle.

ORIGINAL POST: The Minneapolis man authorities say fired an assault rifle at his former girlfriend as she slept and then threatened police officers Wednesday morning has been charged with first-degree attempted murder.

Major J. Moore, who will turn 37 on Saturday, also faces charges of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and first-degree burglary with a dangerous weapon, said Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for the Hennepin County attorney’s office. The incident occurred about 11:20 a.m. on the 2300 block of Lincoln Street, according to a criminal complaint.

Authorities say that Moore, who later told investigators that the last thing he remembered was smoking PCP and playing the video game "Grand Theft Auto," fired a single shot at the sleeping victim from outside of her northeast Minneapolis home, missing her by a few inches. He later chased the victim through the house, before fleeing to a nearby alley, according to the complaint.

Once outside, Moore threatened responding officers, who ordered him to drop the weapon, authorities said. When he refused to comply, an unidentified officer fired a shotgun at him and missed.

The suspect fled, but was arrested a short time later, authorities said.

No officers were injured.

A police spokesman said Friday that he did not have information about the make and model of the rifle, other than it was "an assault rifle with high-capacity magazine."

Meeting will weigh North Side and Golden Valley light rail stations

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: February 21, 2015 - 10:11 AM
Above: Renderings of the proposed Golden Valley station, from a Bottineau project video.

Planners of a proposed light rail line serving the northern suburbs want input on whether it should stop in north Minneapolis and Golden Valley.

A public meeting next Thursday will focus on whether the 13-mile line should include stops at Plymouth Avenue, Golden Valley Road or both. The Plymouth Avenue stop in Theodore Wirth Park is technically located just across the Minneapolis border in Golden Valley, though the park is controlled by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.  would be one of just three Minneapolis stops outside downtown.

Laura Baenen, a spokeswoman for the project, said the Met Council is opening to building one or both stations, "depending on engineering factors, environmental factors, cost and community support."

Above: Renderings of the proposed Golden Valley station, from a Bottineau project video.

The Plymouth Avenue station is under discussion because Minneapolis did not request it until after the project's draft environmental impact statement was nearly complete.

The project office and local leaders will make a formal recommendation this spring on whether to build the stations, which will eventually be forwarded to the Met Council.

The current route follows Olsen Memorial Highway to Wirth Park, where it would travel north along the park's edge. That was chosen several years ago over another route that would have turned north on Penn Ave.

The Plymouth Ave. stop is very close to the Theodore Wirth golf course and chalet, a popular recreation center.

Like the controversial Southwest project, the line would travel in or near parkland. But Minneapolis Park Board president Liz Wielinski said the interaction with project planners has been more agreeable than Southwest, where the board is locked into a dispute over a channel crossing.

"We're actually making an effort not to run into Kenilworth Part 2," Wielinski said, referring to the disputed Southwest corridor. "They're being very very cooperative this time around so that we don't run into this again."

The public meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Golden Valley at the Church of St. Margaret Mary Visitation Hall, 2323 Zenith Ave. North.

Below is a map of the Minneapolis-area stops along the line, in addition to the Goldey Valley station. Click on the stations for a street view.

And here are some ground-level shots of the North Side stations along the Bottineau line, which would begin at Target Field downtown.

Van White (at Olsen Memorial Highway):

Penn Ave (at Olsen Memorial Highway):

Plymouth Ave (just west of Xerxes Ave):

Why did city release Graco easement clause?

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Local business, Parks and recreation, People and neighborhoods, Politics and government, Public safety, Urban living Updated: February 20, 2015 - 3:20 PM

(Photo: Graco's riverside factory and the rest of its comlex lie just upriver from the former Scherer Lumber property it seeks part of.  Photo by Steve Brandt)

The question of why the city apparently released Graco Minnesota Inc. from a requirement to provide a critical trail easement at its riverfront property remains unanswered a week after the controversy erupted.

The city's Department of Community Planning and Economic Development has yet to respond to a Star Tribune inquiry earlier this week on the topic. The former CPED employee who Graco representatives say orally waived the requirement deferred to his old department for an explanaation.

The issue: Graco was required to provide an easement as part of a 2000 deal in which it received tax-increment financing for the firm's substantial investment in its 20-acre site. Some neighbors were unhappy about the firm building a factory so close to the river, but were mollified by the easement clause for the long-planned trail.

The easement was qualified only by stating that it should be in a form agreed to by the city or Park Board and the company. Graco says that meant identifying the specific strip of land over which the easement for the trail would run. It also said that it had trouble getting any response from the the city or Park Board on the matter.

But the city certified in the waning days of 2009 that Graco had completed "all building construction and other physical improvements" in the redevelopment agreement with the city. A Park Board resolution attributes failure to consummate the easement to "miscommunication" among the city, Park Board and Graco.

Why?  So far CPED hasn't answered a direct request for an explanation. Graco also has said through a spokesman that CPED project coordinator Erik Hansen waived the easement clause orally in a meeting with the company. Hansen, who left CPED this month for a new job heading housing and economic development for the city of Brooklyn Park, said he'd let CPED respond.

Graco now is playing hardball with granting an easement because it wants a portion of the riverside land that the Park Board bought from under the company's nose from Scherer Bros Lumber Co. The Park Board is open to allowing private development on a corner of that site that's away from the river, but probably a more river- or park-oriented use than potentially a Graco corporate office. Scherer didn't respond to an inquiry on whether Graco had ever made an offer to Scherer, and a Graco spokesman said he didn't know.

The board-passed resolution on Wednesday allows room for further negotiation with Graco on an easement, as an alternative to going ahead with condemnation, but tempers will need to cool a bit. Although several commissioners praised Graco's past involvement in local affairs, they excoriated it for the easement issue, which may cost the Park Board a $1 million federal grant it has to build the trail. The Park Board needs to control the entire route of the trail from Boom Island to Marshall St. NE by May 31 to keep the grant.

Absent an agreement, the city's easement waiver will cost the Park Board both the cost of whatever a court awards in a condemnation and attorney fees.

Graco still has issues it needs to work through with the Park Board even if the easement negotiations were friendly.  They include such matters as how the trail will accommodate the paved fire lane that Graco installed to access the rear of the building, whether large gas tanks will move to better accommodate the trail, and whether there will be a fence between the trail and Graco. The Park Board also plans to install wiring for lights to make the trail seem safer since it will largely be out of public view behind the two-block-long factory. 

(Map: The planned East Bank Trail would swing around the undeveloped Scherer site north of the Plymouth Avenue Bridge and then run between Graco's factory and the river.)

Crews respond to early-morning fire at Alliance Steel

Posted by: under Local business, Public safety Updated: February 18, 2015 - 6:51 PM

By Jessica Lee

Minneapolis crews battled an intense fire at Alliance Steel on St. Anthony Parkway into the early hours of Wednesday morning, amid sub-zero temperatures.

About 40 firefighters responded to the incident at the steel manufacturing plant around 1 a.m., rotating shifts throughout the fire’s one-hour progression.

A cutting tool produced the spark, and when firefighters arrived to the warehouse scene, they responded to reports of an aluminum pile burning inside, according to a release from the city’s fire department.

Combustible metal was too close to where work was being done, the release said.

Water lines and crews’ equipment froze, and Salvation Army staff and a Metro Transit bus arrived to help keep the firefighters warm and nourished.

The incident’s area was cleared around sunrise, 7 a.m., and there were no reports of injuries.

Authorities did not have an estimate for the cost of the damage.

Jessica Lee is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.

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