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

Police investigate shots fired at HCMC

Posted by: under Public safety Updated: August 26, 2014 - 4:01 PM

By Matt McKinney

Star Tribune Staff Writer

Minneapolis police were investigating shots that were fired at Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday afternoon.

The shooting happened outside the "red" entrance to HCMC, at 730 S. 8th St.

Police had this entrance to the hospital blocked off with yellow crime scene tape around 3:40 p.m. The street was closed between Park Avenue and Chicago Avenue.

There are bullet casings in street near 8th and Chicago Avenues. 

Police believe it was possibly connected to a shooting earlier Tuesday near 38th Street and Portland Avenue S. in Minneapolis. Two people were injured just before noon with what police called "non-life-threatening injuries."

Check back for more details.


School board recount begins

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under Politics and government Updated: August 26, 2014 - 9:28 AM

The recount for the Minneapolis at-large school board will begin today at 10 a.m.

Doug Mann, who finished fifth, asked for the recount because he had 50 votes less than Ira Jourdain, who advanced to the general election.

There were six candidates in the citywide race, only four moved on to the Nov. 4 election where two candidates will take the board seats.

The city will count all 29,129 ballots at the elections warehouse, located at 732A Harding Street NE. The city anticipates the process will take up to eight hours.

Five-hour rescue pulls man from abandoned tower

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: August 22, 2014 - 6:02 PM

A harrowing five-hour rescue early Thursday of a man who had fallen 60 feet inside a derelict Minneapolis building was only the latest injury at the Fruen Mill, an abandoned ConAgra grain elevator and warehouse site that abuts Bassett Creek in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood.

The man and two others ignored “no trespassing” signs to enter the empty building late Wednesday night, but when he fell to the bottom of a silo there he couldn’t get back out, said Asst. Minneapolis Fire Chief Charles Brynteson. The man survived his long fall with only lacerations, a possible broken jaw and a possible concussion thanks to a bed of loose soil that cushioned the impact, said Brynteson.

“He’s very fortunate,” he said.

Just getting to the spot where the man fell required two separate climbs by firefighters. The rescuers followed the same path the explorers did, climbing to the top of one building before moving to a second building and climbing to the top of it. From that spot, the firefighters lowered one of their own to the bottom of the tower. The injured man was put into a harness and lifted to safety; the firefighters then had to carry him back down following the same route into the complex. The man was conscious and alert throughout the rescue, said Brynteson.

A similar fall in 2006 killed a 32-year-old Burnsville man who was exploring the crumbling site with friends. He fell when a concrete beam gave way, police said at the time. A few months before his death, an 18-year-old Robbinsdale man survived a 70 foot fall inside the complex.

The tower, near the intersection of Thomas and Third Avenues north, has been the subject of on-again, off-again redevelopment talks for years. It sits adjacent to the former Glenwood Springs property. Three months ago, a company called Push Interactive moved into the Glenwood site with plans to convert it to office, brewery and restaurant space.

Push Interactive owner Chris Jahnke said a complicated, yearlong negotiation with the Burlington Northern railroad (the tracks run past the property) has been resolved and Push has tentative plans to break ground next spring, he said. The company already has 15 people working in a 4,000-sq.-ft. space they’ve renovated.

Jahnke said a brewery deal could be imminent for the spot, saying beermakers like the possibility of using the natural spring water still flowing through the onsite pumps. “We have a bunch of interested tenants,” he said.

The owner of the mill since 2006 has been Minneapolis developer Paul Fry of Frich Development. He couldn’t be reached Friday, but has said in the past that he plans to convert the mill into a suite of condos with views of downtown Minneapolis and Theodore Wirth Park. The only recent activity at the property, according to the city of Minneapolis website, was in April when someone applied for a permit to monitor wells on the property.

Image: An early morning sun rises on the Fruen Mill complex near Thomas and Glenwood Avenues North in this 2005 Star Tribune photo. Credit: Liz Flores.

Neighborhood: Nix one-way streets on East Bank

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: August 21, 2014 - 9:25 PM

Tired of cars whizzing through their neighborhood at the expense of pedestrians and local retailers, residents of the East Hennepin area are pushing to eliminate one-way traffic on two key streets.

The conversion of Hennepin and 1st Avenues from one-way to two-way streets is the top transportation priority of the Nicollet Island - East Bank neighborhood's draft plan for their area -- now under consideration at City Hall. Those plans, drafted by neighborhoods and approved by the City Council, help guide future development and infrastructure decisions.

"If you want to … restore the old East Hennepin commercial district, the fact that you have one-way Hennepin and 1st [Avenues is] really harmful to trying to get that done," said Victor Grambsch, president of the neighborhood association. Not only is it harder to woo customers traveling a high speeds, Grambsch said, but one-way streets make navigation of a commercial area more cumbersome.

Vehicles now enjoy three lanes of one-way traffic between downtown and 7th Street NE on Hennepin and 1st Avenues, a corridor that passes local landmarks like Nye's Polonaise and Surdyk's. In 2009, the two avenues were converted to two-way streets in the downtown core.

The neighborhood is already facing resistance from Hennepin County, which owns the road.

J. Michael Noonan, administrator of the county's office of strategic planning, wrote in draft comments that, "Impacts of one-way to two-way roadway conversions affect traffic operations and safety by increasing conflicts and the potential for crashes....Hennepin County does not currently support this proposed change."

Another major difficulty will be determining how the new two-way streets would flow onto the Hennepin Avenue bridge, which is comprised of two one-way corridors. Grambsch said a specialized intersection would be required.

Grambsch said the neighborhood will likely compromise on some of the language, but added that local leaders need to view streets as being home to more than just cars.

"There’s this famous line from George Clemenceau about 'War is too important to leave to the generals,' Grambsch said. "And I think that we want to go with: 'Use of the street is too important to leave to traffic engineers.' There is just simply many more uses of the street than moving cars.” 

These segments of Hennepin and 1st Avenues carry 15,300 and 10,300 cars per day, respectively, the county said. Grambsch observed only during rush hour do the streets fill up, however.

“You really have to separate rush hour, say 4 until 5:30 business day, from all other times," Grambsch said. "Because at other times, one lane of traffic in either direction on Hennepin is completely adequate for the traffic."

Following the conversion of Hennepin and 1st Avenues downtown, the city discovered that the volume of traffic accidents actually decreased.

Specifically, the neighborhood's plan would convert three 12-foot, one-way drive lanes into two 11-foot drive lanes and one turn lane. That would allow room for a tree-lined boulevard, which is known to calm traffic. See the diagram below.

Another factor in the potential conversion of the streets across the river are plans to run a streetcar into the area. Plans drawn up by the neighborhood envision it traveling in mixed traffic along one of the drive lanes on Hennepin Avenue, possibly beside a new protected bike lane.

“You have to interpret the street as not just cars both moving and parked, but also pedestrians and business and all the other users of the street," Grambsch said.

Council Member Jacob Frey, who represents the area, noted that proposals for a high-rise building on the Washburn-McReavy site and a to-be-determined high-rise building at the Superior Plating site are illustrative of a vibrant and rapidly evolving neighborhood.

“It’s still very much so an on-ramp and an off-ramp for large segments of the day,” Frey said of the street. “This measure would be designed to move away from that.”

The draft neighborhood plan will be discussed by the planning commission's committee of the whole on August 28. It must then be approved by the City Council.

Above Right Photo: The opening of the East Hennepin Bridge in 1974.

"Jam for Joe" benefit to help family of missing Minneapolis man

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: August 20, 2014 - 6:30 PM

The family, friends and neighbors of a Minneapolis man missing since July 1 will set aside their search for one night Thursday to hold a benefit for his wife and two young daughters.

Josef Zurnieden, 42, was last seen at 6 a.m. on July 1 at his home in the Hiawatha neighborhood of south Minneapolis; his vehicle was found two days later near 26th and Marshall in northeast Minneapolis.  

A police bulletin issued at the time of his disappearance said Zurnieden, who is white, stands six feet tall and weighs about 165 pounds with dark, receding hair. Authorities do not suspect foul play. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Minneapolis Police Department's tips line at 612-692-TIPS (8477). 

FUNDRAISER DETAILS: The "Jam for Joe" fundraiser runs from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 21, at St. Helena's Catholic School, 3200 E. 44th St., Minneapolis. The event will move into the school's gymnasium in the event of rain. A suggested donation of $10 per person is being suggested. 

Donations can be made directly into the Wells Fargo account 8678229694, with tax ID 47-6346506. Checks can be mailed to the Zurnieden Family Trust, PO Box 17112, Minneapolis, 55417.


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