With a cost that nearly tripled from conception to opening day, the Lowry Avenue Bridge may be a little rich for some folks' blood at $104 million, but it's drawing praise from one industry publication.
Roads and Bridges magazine named the crossing that opened last year as one of the top 10 new bridges nationally. The Illinois-based publication, which uses engineering difficulty as its prime criterion, labeled the span over the Mississippi River eye-catching.
The magazine noted the bridge's long-lasting, color-shifting LED lights and an underground sand filter to treat water running off the bridge as notable features, along with fitting it into a tight footprint.
The bridge has built for Hennepin County and reopened a crossing that was closed due to a shifting pier in 2008, and demolished a year later.
(Update: The middle-grades Spanish immersion program should remain at Anweatin Middle School, the district told parents of immerison students Tuesday night.
That reverses a revised recommendation that district planners made to their board just last week to shift the program to the Wilder building on the South Side from the current North Side site. Some parents wanted a site that more accessible by bus from the South Side, where the bulk of immersion students reside. But others at Anwatin pushed back (see below).
The immerison program will bring a district-estimated 225 to 250 students to the school if a proposed expansion of the program to Sheridan school in northeast Minneapolis is approved. That expansion would help offset a loss of some students feeding to Anwatin from Bethune, who would go to Franklin Middle School. The district said that students from adjacent Bryn Mawr elementary would continue to feed Anwatin, along with Internaitonal Baccalaureate students from Whittier school.)
There's been pushback from the city's northern third recently on a proposed enrollment plan recently in two areas of concern -- the proposed shift of the district middle-school Spanish immersion program out of Anwatin Middle School, and the future of North High School.
Both were topics Monday night when the district opened a series of geographic meetings with parents, this time the North Side.
District representatives hinted that a change in the immersion proposal could be unveiled Tuesday night at another parent meeting at Windom. The district has immersion elementaries at Emerson and Windom schools, and wants to open a third that would share Sheridan. The district last month proposed keeping the middle school program at Anwatin and making Roosevelt the pathway high school for Spanish immersion, But it revised that this month to propose sending immersion students to the South Side's Wilder building for middle school, responding to a concern about making the program more geographically compact.
That prompted an outcry from some Anwatin parents who felt the revised program undercut their school both by shifting 150 immersion students, and by routing some elementary students that now feed Anwatin to a reopened Franklin Middle School. Parent Kimberlee Martinez brought a poster-size map to make her point that the district zone serving the north and northeast Minneapolis is short-changed on Spanish immersion. It does have the city's only French immersion district school.
The school board also got an earful last week from North High School boosters, who wanted to know when the second small academy to operate in that school is going to debut. Several advocated for a revival of the science and math-focused Summa Tech that North used to offer in the days before the advent of STEM (science tech engineering math) programs. Area Associate Superintendent Michael Thomas reassured them that a medical, science and tech program was proposed to open at North in 2015 for up to 500 students, in cooperation with the Institute for Student Achievement, the consultant helping the district with its arts and communication academy now in its second year at North.
North advocates now have a key advocate in board member Kim Ellison, who earlier served on the community committee that several years ago recommended alternatives to a proposal then to close North.
The district was also peppered with questions about what it's doing to strengthen Olson Middle School, as a feeder for Henry High School. One plan is to reopen a prek-5 community school at Cityview that's compatible with Henry and Edison High School International Baccalaureate programs. Cityview would also house a relocated French immersion program.
(Photo: Anwatin Middle School and Bryn Mawr elementary are tucked in an area between Interstate 394 and Bassett Creek)
A former Gluek saloon in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood isn’t going down easy.
The city’s Heritage Preservation Commission said no once again on Tuesday in the year-old saga of whether a housing developer can raze the onetime saloon building that sits on part of its site.
The 5-4 vote by commissioners opens the door to a likely appeal by developer Fine Associates, which wants to clear the 1903 two-story brick building. Fine wants to build 259 apartments in a six story complex with parking that it calls Five15 on the Park.
The commission vote came despite a staff recommendation that the developer had exhausted feasible options for moving the former saloon at 1500 6th St. S. A neighboring developer denied a request by Fine to use its nearby site temporarily to move the building to another site Fine owns at 1527 S. 6th St. Moves to other locations in the area were too expensive for moving the structure alone, let alone rehab, Fine’s Bob Kueppers told the commission.
Commissioners who bucked the recommendation said they feel the building, now stripped of its saloon décor, is still an important historic resource, and one of few remaining vintage buildings in the area.
Opponents note that a number of the 86 saloons in Minneapolis known as "tied houses" that Gluek built to peddle its suds exclusively still remain, including some not far away in the same neighborhood.
Fine was pressing the city a year ago to let it demolish the building because it was in a hurry to start construction. But a commission staff report said a developer pro forma shows the development proposal still has a $4.9 million financial gap.
An application to demolish the building was submitted in August, 2012, and the commission denied the request last November. The City Council overrode that on appeal, but said the building had to be moved down the street. Fine renewed its demolition request in August, arguing that there were no feasible alternatives to demolition. It doesn’t want to leave the building in a corner of the proposed development because that would reduce the number of apartments built, and clash with the project’s design, Kueppers said.
The former home of Peace House on E. Franklin Avenue is now gone, demolished to make room for the last phase of the Franklin-Portland Gateway project.
Although the demolition long has been anticipated, it removes a building where homeless people mingled with volunteers for prayer, meditation, talk and sometimes meals since 1985. It also eliminated a mosaic mural on the building’s side that the city opted not to require be preserved or documented.
Peace House moved on July 1 to new smaller quarters one and one-half blocks away at 1816 Portland Ave.
That leaves a clear site for the fourth phase of the gateway effort, which over more than 10 years has added more than 300 affordable housing units, plus retail and office space. The latest development, on the northwest corner of the intersection, will add 90 more units and rehab another 30 in the adjacent Pine Cliff Apartment building.
The previous three developments by the partnership of Aeon, a nonprofit housing developer, and HOPE Community, which has been ministering to low-income residents of the area since 1977, fill the intersection’s remaining corners.
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