Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association, Nov. 24 board meeting

Neighborhood Master Plan; PPERRIA receives CURA grant; East Side Neighborhood Services seeks support; Campus Crossroads project delayed; 625 Ontario developer applies for moratorium waiver; plans to rezone southeast side of neighborhood; more

Planning Committee ‘Master Plan’ Report

PPERRIA President Dick Poppele explained that the Planning Committee, charged with developing a framework for growth for the neighborhood, has been meeting every two weeks since July to create a comprehensive picture of what the neighborhood should look like in the future and what kinds of development it would support. Poppele said the need for a master plan stems from all of the changes that are occurring in and around the neighborhood. Citing a study from the city, Poppele said Southeast Minneapolis as a whole is expected to grow in population by 25 percent in the next two decades and that the number of households is expected to increase by 30 percent. Poppele also mentioned the large number of new facilities in and around the neighborhood — the Biomedical Research Park and East Gateway District, Ambulatory Care Clinic, Gopher Stadium, SEMI Industrial Area and Granary Road, Central Corridor LRT, and the Grand Rounds Missing Link — as further reasoning for the planning effort.

I. Why Plan: Planning Committee Chair Dick Gilyard said his committee had taken into account the “tsunami of forces barreling down on us” and decided the neighborhood really needed to establish its own vision. The hope, Gilyard said, is that planning would help to preserve and reinforce a sense of place, identify missing pieces in the neighborhood, as it currently exists, enhance connectivity to the other neighborhoods in the area and the university, and reinforce the public realm. Tonight’s goal is to identify a series of concepts — not a full plan at this point, by any means — identifying important values and features in a plan that could help guide market forces in the future, he said. Creating a neighborhood plan also fits into the work of the University District Partnership Alliance (UDPA), he said; the next UDPA planning workshop is scheduled for Dec. 6.

II. Guiding Principles: Committee member Tamara Johnson said preserving and identifying the characteristics of the neighborhood, maintaining the diversity of architecture, residents and businesses, promoting alternate modes of transportation, and encouraging economic vitality were central to the planning effort. The intent, through this process, is to create a plan that can be shown to developers, governmental entities and adjoining neighborhoods. Through the plan, PPERRIA hopes to encourage retail and commercial business development that’s aligned with what the neighborhood wants.

III. Defining Characteristics: Committee Member Karen Murdoch joked she “felt like God” when given the chance to help define the characteristics of Prospect Park. Murdoch said the gorge of the Mississippi, the hilly topography, the dense urban forest and green spaces were key features of the neighborhood. She also mentioned the curvy streets, historic buildings like Pratt School, pedestrian lights and high-quality pre-World War II housing stock. The neighborhood’s well-defined physical boundaries, highly educated and vocal population, number of multiple generations from a single family living in the neighborhood, strong neighborhood group involvement, progressive political ideals and close relationship with the U were also mentioned by Murdoch as defining characteristics.

IV. Mix and Mingle: Committee Member Christina Larson said that for a lively, vital community people need a variety of reasons and times to be there. Prospect Park is currently lacking a centralized business community, or an “urban village” of consolidated shops, restaurants and entertainment. Larson said such an urban village would need to attract business throughout the day to be successful (not just the University lunch crowd) and promote “incidental customers.”

V. Corridors through Prospect Park: Committee Member John Wicks said very few neighborhoods have the number of transportation corridors and kinds of transportation systems Prospect Park does. (As corridors he mentioned University Avenue, Franklin Avenue, 27th Avenue, East River Boulevard, Interstate 94, Huron Boulevard, Granary Road, The Grand Rounds Missing Link and light rail.)

VI. Streetscapes: Committee Member John DeWitt explained the concept of “complete streets” that balance vehicular, bicycle, mass transit and pedestrian needs. He showed visually, using computer-generated images, how the concept could be applied to streets in the neighborhood. DeWitt also talked about the concept of “streetscaping” and giving streets a sense of place. Committee Member Jim Witte presented several examples of what high-density owner-occupied residential, commercial and office developments could look like in “gateway districts” on University and Franklin avenues. ESG Architects helped with the visioning, he said. Bedford and University was identified as a potential place for a central business district.

VII. Concepts and Comments: Committee member John Kari said a series of comment sheets would be distributed at the meeting for people to describe what they liked about the concepts that were presented, what could be improved and also, give people a platform to share their own ideas. Gilyard said the point of developing a framework is not to generate a master plan that will be typed, bound and boxed-up on a shelf, but rather, to come up with a comprehensive, flexible plan to show developers in the next six months.

“We look at it as a working plan we will pursue into real projects,” he said. Poppele said the PERRIA wants to be able to have a useful dialogue with developers, which means having a plan of what the neighborhood does want, not simply what it doesn’t.

PPERRIA awarded joint CURA grant
Board Member Jerry Stein announced that PPERRIA, in conjunction with the Center for Media Arts, received a $10,000 grant from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) to develop a project that catalogs and identifies learning venues and opportunities in the Southeast community. “We got the grant,” Stein said happily. “We’ll be doing this now for the next year.”

Campus Crossroads project delayed
PPERRIA received a letter from Tom Lund, a representative from the Campus Crossroads project, stating that, due to current economic conditions, the project schedule is being postponed. The groundbreaking is now expected to occur in June of 2009 and the grand opening has been pushed to summer 2011.

East Side Neighborhood Services asks for support
Staff from East Side Neighborhood Services (ESNS) asked for PPERRIA’s support in helping the social services organization to stay in its current office space at Luxton Park. The Minneapolis Park Board has said it will likely double the rental rate for the space ESNS is currently occupying, meaning the organization might be forced to move as early as next year.

Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon said the issue has been looming for several years and that lately it’s been addressed on a temporary basis. A more permanent solution is needed, and Gordon said he is committed to working with the other players involved, including the Park Board. One person in attendance suggested PPERRIA generate a letter to express its support for East Side Neighborhood Services; several others agreed. Poppele said the organization has expressed its support in the past and that another letter would be generated.

University Physicians signage variance denied
University Physicians, 720 Washington Ave., requested a variance from the city to increase the size of its signage by 55 percent. Zoning Committee Chair Florence Littman said she and Karen Murdoch attended the variance hearing, where they testified against such a variance. The 55 percent variance was rejected and a much smaller variance was approved.

Developer at 635 Ontario St. files for moratorium exemption
Littman said the developer at 635 Ontario St., who has plans for a student housing complex, has filed for an exemption to the year-long development moratorium in the University District.

Possible down-zoning on southeast side of neighborhood
Littman said she and Murdoch are looking into trying to get the R-4 zoning designation in a small area on the southeast side of the neighborhood down-zoned. The area in question includes single family homes that have never been anything but single family homes, so the designation doesn’t really make sense, she said. PPERRIA has a small fund for legal resources and that money could be used to consult an attorney, Littman said.

Motley Crew meeting well attended
Littman reported the last Motely Crew meeting was attended by close to 40 people.

Hearing for full liquor license for Campus Pizza & Pasta
A hearing on Campus Pizza & Pasta’s application for a full liquor license will take place Nov. 25 at Luxton Park. As of this meeting, Littman said, no agreement had been reached between PPERRIA and the restaurant owner.

Prospect Park parking study and the 106 Review Process
Livability Committee Chair Joe Ring said it was important that the neighborhood’s recent parking study be incorporated into the 106 Review Process so that the neighborhood would know, in advance, what it could do about parking issues in the long-term, should the problem be exacerbated in the future by light rail. “If it’s in that document, they have to abide by it,” Ring said. Ring said he talked to Council Member Gordon about recruiting someone from the city to help represent PPERRIA at the 106 Review meetings. Gordon said if he didn’t find someone, he would attend, according to Ring.

Ring also mentioned his committee received a significant number of responses from the Franklin Avenue surveys it sent out recently.

29th Avenue light rail station could be renamed
Poppele mentioned briefly that a proposal had been made to possibly change the name of the 29th Avenue light rail station to “Prospect Park” station.

PPERRIA membership down
Membership Committee Chair Julie Wallace said membership was down significantly from pervious years and urged current members to recruit their neighbors as the organization needs a large and diverse membership to reflect the ideas of the entire community.

NRP policy board elections
Board Member Peter LaSha represented PPERRIA at the last NRP policy board elections and also attended the most recent policy board meeting on behalf of the organization.

NEXT: Board meeting, Mon., Jan. 26, 2009.
MEETINGS: 4th Monday monthly, 7–9 p.m., unless otherwise announced. Refreshments, conversation 6:30–7 p.m. Prospect Park United Methodist Church, 22 Orlin Avenue SE
CONTACT: 612-331-2970
66 SE Malcolm Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55414

last revised: December 1, 2008