Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association

Minutes from Board of Directors Meeting on Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hennepin Center for the Arts

528 Hennepin Avenue, 5th Floor Conference Room, Minneapolis, Minnesota

I.          Call to Order and Introductions

            Board Chair Carletta Sweet called the meeting to order at 6:33 p.m.

Other board members in attendance included Gerry Ewald; Andy Hauer; Natasha Heimer, Treasurer; Denise Holt, Secretary; Kim Motes; Scott Parkin, Vice Chair; and George Rosenquist. 

Guests in attendance included:  Laura Boyd, Alcohol Compliance Services; Michelle Bruch, Downtown Journal; Gretchen Camp, Mike Krych, and Jesse Symynkywicz, BKV Group; Todd Clark, Matt Parrington, and Will Rolf, Element Nightclub; Bill Conway, Downtown resident; Tod Elkins, UrbanWorks Architecture; Carrie Flack, City of Minneapolis CPED; Steve Frenz, JAS Apartments (the Marmont); Burl Gilyard, Finance and Commerce; Lisa Goodman, Ward 7 Council Member; Joe Kapper, CURA Research Assistant; Peggy Lucas, Downtown resident; Tom Melchior, Downtown resident; Reggie Prim, RJCA, Inc.; and Shawn Zimny, Village Green Companies.

Staff member Christie Rock also attended the meeting.

II.        Consideration of the Agenda

Board Chair Sweet asked if there were any additions or changes to the agenda.  There being none,

Sweet moved and Hauer seconded a motion to approve the agenda.  The motion passed. 

III.       Ward 7 Downtown Update

            Council Member Lisa Goodman gave an update on the following activities and events:

·         The annual street repair and resurface work on Nicollet Avenue between Washington Avenue South and South 13th Street will begin on April 21.  The work should take approximately 4 weeks.  During that time the street will be closed to all vehicular traffic but will remain open to all pedestrian traffic.

·         The Medica Skyway Senior Center  is hosting an Art Opening and Silent Auction fundraiser featuring the works of Jean Stephen Galleries on Thursday, May 15, 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at MSSC, 950 Nicollet Mall, Suite 290, 612-370-3869.

·         Goodman joked that unbeknownst to her, and according to the papers, she has now become the champion for the 4:00 a.m. bar closing in downtown during the Republican National Convention.  She admitted she believes that the extension will benefit downtown hotel bars and improve Minneapolis’ image as a 24-hour city.  The City Council will likely support the state legislation if they maintain local control and can restrict where and when the extensions can be applied.

·         The Hennepin County/City of Minneapolis Library merger continues toward complete consolidation.  Goodman distributed a copy of the “Blueprint for Guiding Principles for the Consolidation Process of the Library Foundation of Hennepin County and the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library” and the “Hennepin County Library Update:  April 2008 by Megan Peterson, Marketing and Communications” documents.

·         In response to questions received concerning Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), Goodman distributed her “Questions about IRV and the City Process” and advised that the City’s implementation goal is 2009, unless and until the Council determines otherwise.  On March 7, the Council unanimously approved a direction to Elections staff to prepare a RFP for IRV-compatible election equipment.  For more in-depth information regarding this issue, visit

·         Direct all property tax statement questions to Goodman’s office at 612-673-2207.

·         The next “Lunch with Lisa” is scheduled for Wednesday, April 23, at the University of St. Thomas.  This month’s featured speaker is Ann Wimmer, Director of Retail Recruitment for the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

·         Goodman is supportive of the concept plans for both the Marmont and the Mill District City Apartments.

Goodman then introduced John Bernstein, one of the two members appointed from her Ward serving as the Downtown representative to the City’s Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee (CLIC).  Goodman thought it would be beneficial for the DMNA board to hear a presentation on CLIC and how it impacts the Downtown community.

Bernstein explained that CLIC is the citizen advisory committee to the Mayor and the City Council on every proposed capital improvement program and budget requests that any department within the City is contemplating within a 5-year timeframe, and in this instance, 2009-2013.  CLIC meets twice per month and has a membership of 33 people who serve a 2-year term: 2 appointments by each of the 13 Ward Council Members, and 7 at-large appointments by the Mayor.

Berstein advised that City funds dedicated to citywide capital improvement projects is about $90 million to be leveraged against County, State, Federal and other sources for a 5-year total of over $500 million.  He then presented a package of the project plans impacting Ward 7 which included: 

·         Repair and improvements of various parking facilities;

·         Combined sewer overflow improvements;

·         I35W storm tunnel reconstruction;

·         County State Aid Highways (CSAH) paving;

·         2nd and 3rd Avenues North reconstruction between Washington Avenue and North 5th Street;

·         Turning 1st Avenue North from one-way to two-way between 1st and 9th Streets;

·         Turning Hennepin Avenue from one-way to two-way between 1st and 12th Streets;

·         Asphalt pavement resurfacing.

Because CLIC is under a tight timeline (their recommendations go before the Mayor by June) Bernstein wanted to ensure the DMNA is aware of CLIC and the projects under consideration.  The DMNA will also receive this list from the NRP for comment.  In the meantime, Berstein suggested designating a Board liaison (to which the Chair agreed to be) to field any questions or concerns about the projects then forward them to him at 612-770-9280 or [email protected].

IV.       Land Use Committee Report


            LUC Chair Andy Hauer gave a report on the following projects:    


Mill District City Apartments.  Village Green Companies is the developer for this project, which is located on the former Brighton Development condo site.  The addresses of the impacted parcels are 600 Washington Avenue South and 603 South 2nd Street.  Village Green owns and operates 30,000 apartment units nationally.  The architect for this project is BKV Group. 

Village Green Companies is proposing to build 175 apartment units, ranging in size from studio to two bedrooms.  The project includes 175 parking stalls.  The developer is hoping to include walk-ups on Washington Avenue and potentially retail space at the corner of Washington Avenue and South 2nd Street. 

The developer is seeking a number of Conditional Use Permits plus a variance and site plan review from the City.  Staff member Rock requested that the developer send her an email with a listing of all of the land use applications being submitted. 

Questions the Board posed included:  Will there be a dog run?  How tall will the building be in comparison to surrounding developments?  What will the rents be?  Is the proposed signage on the right elevation of the building appropriate, or would it be better served on Washington Avenue?

The developers noted that they are considering a dog run.  The building will be the same height as the Park Avenue Lofts.  Rents have not been determined.  The developer is working with a branding company on signage. 

After significant discussion as to whether they should take action on this item at this time, the Board decided the plans were too incomplete to make a recommendation and suggested that the developer present the plans to Mill District residents at a larger neighborhood meeting prior to presenting to the City’s Planning Commission. 

The Marmont.  Steve Frenz of JAS Apartments is the developer of this project and is working with architect Tod Elkins from UrbanWorks Architecture.  The project proposal encompasses three parcels:  110 12th Avenue South, 124 12th Avenue South, and 1102 South 2nd Street, or roughly 2 acres.  The sites are to the east of Gold Medal Park and near the Guthrie Theater, West River Parkway, and the site of the reconstruction of the 35W bridge.  Electronic Recovery and McIntosh Printing currently occupy the sites.

Frenz is proposing to build 348 apartments and 10 rental townhomes on the site.  The projects include two mid-rise towers of 10 and 12 stories with two levels of above ground parking, however the parking ratio is less than 1 to 1.  The project will also include a fitness center, 24-hour concierge, and possibly a coffee shop and/or bike shop.  Rents have not been determined, but will target upper income levels.

The board took no position on this proposal as well and encouraged the developer to make a presentation to Mill District residents at a larger neighborhood meeting. 

Element Nightclub.  Laura Boyd from Alcohol Compliance Services introduced the new owners and manager of Element Nightclub, which is located in the former Foundation Nightclub space in the Lumber Exchange Building.  The owners are seeking a Class B liquor license.  The manager noted that the head of security is the same as the former business.  The club will be opened from Wednesday through Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

Sweet moved and Ewald second a motion to approve the Class B liquor license for Element Nightclub.  Sweet called for discussion.  The motion passed. 

Hotel Minneapolis.  Laura Boyd stated that the representatives from Morrissey Development / Hotel Minneapolis were unable to attend tonight’s meeting.  She indicated that they are seeking Class A liquor license.  There will be no adult entertainment, but they would like to host comedians and live bands. 

Motes moved and Rosenquist seconded a motion to approve the Class A liquor license for Hotel Minneapolis.  Sweet called for discussion.  The motion passed. 

In the absence of the NRP Implementation Committee Chair Kim Motes, Board Vice Chair Scott Parkin attended the April 1st meeting on her behalf with the Mill District Streetscape Gap Committee (residents of the Downtown East neighborhood and supporting organizations) regarding the Mill District Streetscape Project, then gave the report at the instant meeting.  Parkin distributed a handout titled “Mill District Streetscape Improvements – NRP Funding Request,” and summarized the discussion that took place at the NRP IC meeting.

Parkin stated that the MDSGC is seeking approximately $471,250 to make streetscape improvements in two project areas in the Mill District.  Most of the discussion at the NRP IC meeting concerned Project Area A, the initial focus of their efforts, bounded by Portland Avenue South, South 2nd Street, 10th Avenue South, and Washington Avenue South.  MDSGC would like to plant 11 trees and add 12 lights in this area for a total cost of $161,250. 

One of the biggest challenges facing the implementation of this streetscape plan is locating underground utilities which will ultimately determine where the City can plant trees and install lights.  Locating utilities will also require significant collaboration with Public Works as well as developers involved in the newer construction projects in the Mill District.  There has been some thought that a more formal or thorough streetscape study for the Mill District should be completed in order to develop a comprehensive plan.  This would cost about $15,000 to $20,000.

After significant discussion as to how much NRP funds should be put towards this project and what the funds should be used for,

Hauer moved and Parkin seconded a motion to allocate $15,000 in NRP funds for the Mill District Streetscape Project.  Specifically, the City should use the money specifically to plant trees, not for installing lights.  Further, the City should not use the money to plant trees on Washington Avenue.  Sweet called for discussion.  The motion passed.  Rosenquist abstained from voting. 

Staff member Rock indicated that she would contact Bob Cooper about the process for contracting these dollars.

VI.       Crime and Safety Committee Update

Restorative Justice Community Action, Inc Community Coordinator Reggie Prim provided the Board with an update on his organization’s work between July 1, 2007, and December 31, 2007.  He noted that during this time period, RJCA, Inc. addressed 273 incidents of livability crime across its 16-neighborhood service area.  Fifty-six of these incidents took place in the Downtown neighborhood specifically. 

Downtown cases included Public Urination (68%), Consuming in Public (11%), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (9%), Open Bottle (7%), Loitering with Intent to Buy or Sell Narcotics (4%), and the Underage Consumption of Liquor (2%).

Prim also mentioned that RJCA, Inc. is having a difficult time finding volunteers from the Downtown community to participate in community conferences.  He indicated that they have fewer than 20 active volunteers from Downtown.  Prim asked the board for suggestions on organizations he could contact to find volunteers.  Vice Chair Parkin recommended that he contact Gittleman Management. 

Finally, Prim noted that RJCA, Inc. hired an interim executive director, Ed Murphy, former executive director of the Bridge for Homeless Youth.  Prim then thanked the DMNA for its continued support.

Feedback from the Crime and Safety Committee Chair.  C&SC Chair George Rosenquist expressed a certain level of frustration since in essence he was “a committee of one” and asked for clarification of his role.  Board members suggested that unless and until other board or community members expressed a desire to serve on this committee, Rosenquist’s role should be that of a liaison and that he should periodically meet with the Minneapolis First Precinct’s Crime Prevention Specialist Luther Krueger and attend SafeZone Collaborative meetings, then update the DMNA board on specific issues of concern that need to be addressed or when there is a particular activity that needs to planned or coordinated (i.e. National Night Out). 

VII.     Marketing / Communications Project Report


            Postponed until May 13, 2008, board meeting.

Postponed until May 13, 2008, board meeting.

IX.       Consideration of Balance Sheet for Year End 12/31/07
            and April 2008 Financial Statements

Postponed until May 13, 2008, board meeting.

            Postponed until May 13, 2008, board meeting.         

Update on DMNA NRP Phase I review processStaff member Rock gave a brief update on the Phase I evaluation process.  She indicated that CURA Research Assistant Joe Kapper is almost finished interviewing grantees and will start interviewing community leaders in the next week.  In addition, Rock reminded board members about the focus group meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 17.  Kapper will facilitate this meeting.  The purpose of this focus group is to look back at the DMNA’s NRP accomplishments; what worked, what did not.  There will be another focus group meeting on Thursday, May 8, to do some preliminary planning for Phase II.

Update on outreach and collaboration with other downtown organizations.  Postponed until May 13, 2008, board meeting.

X1I.     Adjournment

Hauer moved and Rosenquist seconded a motion to adjourn the board meeting.  The motion passed.

Being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Signed this ________ day of ________________________, 2008.

_______________________________             _______________________________
Chair                                                                   Secretary