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After reviewing the plan, the city would then give them an additional year to make the changes. “Accessory” lots used by businesses for free customer parking would not be affected.
Minneapolis is not the only city with landscaping requirements for surface parking. Chicago, for example, also requires parking lots to have ornamental fencing, trees and hedges planted within a landscaped yard. Owners balked in 2010 when they began receiving noncompliance letters.
Poor said the challenge will be finding ways to get closer compliance without reducing the overall number of stalls. “We’re not here to diminish the number of stalls,” he said. “That’s not our intention.”
There is no buffer at one of Fletcher’s lot on the northwest corner of 10th Street and Hennepin Avenue, for example. He estimated that a 9-foot strip would eliminate about 20 of the 275 stalls.
“That’s probably one of the main issues that might come up” for lot owners, he said of Frey’s efforts.
Poor also noted that the surface parking lot issue has taken on more urgency because of the distribution of rainwater. As the city has seen major rain storms in recent years, surface lots with no landscaping send more water into the streets, flooding storm sewers.
“The storm sewers are having trouble handling the capacity of runoff water as it is,” he said.
Eliminating surface lots also does not necessarily mean less parking downtown. The spaces can be incorporated into a new building, should a developer choose to build there. “The city as a whole does have the goal of moving away from sort of the automobile-centric mentality,” Frey said. “But just because there’s not a surface lot doesn’t mean that you don’t have parking available.”
Some lots are already being developed. Ryan Companies purchased several lots owned by the Star Tribune with intent to build a massive office, residential and park space on the eastern quadrant of downtown. Several lots around the César Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library, one of downtown’s most significant pieces of modern architecture, are also being marketed for development.
“In general, most lot owners are looking for redevelopment opportunities to get the highest and best use out of it,” Fletcher said.
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732