Lisa Bender, an urban planner, carries a physical list of priorities for her Uptown-area ward. At the top is redeveloping the Kmart site that blocks Nicollet Avenue S. at Lake Street — long considered one of the city’s worst planning blunders.
KMART, GET IT DONE:
“I think that project is now or never.” The project involves untangling a complicated puzzle of land and business ownership, but Bender said there has been increasing private-sector interest in “selling or participating in the redevelopment.”
The next step for the $200 million, 3.4-mile line on Nicollet involves the Metropolitan Council incorporating streetcars into its regional plan so the project can compete for state and federal dollars. The city plans to divert property taxes for its $60 million. “We shouldn’t waste time having a conversation about local funding if it’s not going to be possible to get federal money,” Bender said.
A bicycle advocate, Bender would like to see protected bikeways included in the city’s bike master plan. She wants the city to identify ideal streets for protected bikeways ahead of time, rather than have the debate every time a new street is reconstructed.
Bender wonders why bustling Hennepin Avenue S. has so many newer, single-story buildings. “We keep saying that we want to put more intense development along transit corridors. So I’m just not sure why it’s not happening [there].”
How quickly info travels. “Pretty much whatever I say, everyone knows about it very quickly.”