Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association
Minutes from
April 11, 2000 Board of Directors Meeting

A regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association, Inc. (DMNA) was held on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 at the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Room 310, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I.    Call to Order and Announcements

With a quorum present, Jerrie Hayes, Chair, convened the meeting at 7:03 p.m.  Other board members in attendance included:  Jack Becker, Monroe Bell, Larry Calhoun, Andrew Hauer, Sue Jahn, Janis LaDouceur, Al Smith, Vice Chair, Carletta Sweet, Roberta Webb-Streib, Treasurer, and Joan Wilshire. Dee Cotten, Secretary, was unable to attend.  Nonboard members in attendance included Barbara Bell and George Rosenquist, NRP Implementation Committee; Scott Engel, DMNA/NRP Coordinator; Rachel Ramadhyani, Landscape Architect for the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board; and Scott Russell of the Southwest Journal.

Announcements were deferred to later in the meeting where deemed appropriate on the agenda.

II.  Action on the February 8 and March 14, 2000 Minutes

Since no action had yet been taken on the February 8, 2000 minutes, and the March 14, 2000 minutes were just received by the board, the Chair moved and Jack seconded to remove the February and March minutes from the agenda and to postpone taking action on them until the next regularly scheduled board meeting.  The motion was carried unanimously.

III. Neighborhood Redistricting

The Chair informed the board that Jackie Cherryholmes, President of the Minneapolis City Council, had made a motion before the City Planning Commission to remove the North Loop section of what comprises DMNA’s jurisdiction leaving the Downtown East and West areas.  And although the City Planning Commission has approved Jackie’s neighborhood redistricting motion, it still has to go before the full City Council.  However the Chair indicated that she had expressed concern to Billy Binder of Jackie’ office of the untimely notification to DMNA of the motion as well as the letter Jackie sent to Council members indicating enthusiastic support of her motion from DMNA and downtown residents.  Billy assured the Chair that her concerns would be presented to the Council President, and going forward DMNA would receive more timely notification.  Since the neighborhood redistricting effort has apparently been in the works for several years (primarily a tug of war between Lisa Goodman’s and Jackie Cherryholmes’ offices), and was more recently precipitated by calls Jackie’s office allegedly received from residents in the North Loop area expressing a desire to form their own neighborhood organization with separate NRP projects (due, in part, by the failure of DMNA to implement many of its NRP projects), the Chair entertained discussion to obtain a clearer perspective of board members’ and residents’ thoughts and ideas on the ramifications of this potential redistricting. 

The Chair then synthesized the comments by stating that any downtown area could form its own neighborhood organization, but the real issue is which organization, out of all of the downtown organizations, should control NRP funds and control the vision statement for MCDA on behalf of the entire downtown area.  The Chair further stated that this determination would require substantially more information and a more formal process to resolve.  However, in the meantime, the Chair would draft a letter in opposition to redistricting and submit it to board members for comments.

IV. Hennepin Avenue Bridge Park Project Conditional Use Permit

Rachel Ramadhyani briefed the board on the Bridge Park project and 20-space surface parking lot to be developed under and around the downtown end of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge (see Attachment 1), and funded through the Federal Reserve’s Off-site Improvement Fund.  After the completion of this infrastructure phase, additional funding will need to be pursued to initiate the interpretative phase of development that would include benches, signage, bridge-themed learning experiences and other interpretative features.  However, since a CPU is required for the new surface parking area, Rachel requested a letter from DMNA in support of the project.

After the Chair entertained questions and comments concerning interpretative design elements, metered parking problems, and arcade area development and maintenance, although several board members expressed enthusiasm for the project, no official action was taken by the board on this matter.

V.  Housing Criteria Brainstorming

The Chair entertained discussion in order to ascertain the board’s philosophy toward downtown housing.  Janis asserted a clear need for more affordable and subsidized housing due to the disparity between cost of construction versus income, and design elements that create a sense of community and are hospitable to children.  Jack then expressed concern over the dense/cheek-to-jowl development that’s prevalent along the river, where similar developments in other cities have turned into slums in the long term.  Joan also expressed concern over accessibility-design issues (e.g., a minimum of one accessible entrance, 32-inch doors, roll-in/walk-in showers, electrical outlets and switches at appropriate levels).  Addressing rehab opportunities, Al declared the need to also focus on the historic warehouses along Washington Avenue North that could be converted into residential properties.

Commenting on whether to contract a housing consultant, the Chair was of the opinion that the board should not pay $25,000 for a market analysis of the downtown housing stock but rather, in terms of professional assistance, contract someone who could suggest the appropriate financial programs and creative methods to feed DMNA’s imminent housing program.  Additionally, the Chair related a disturbing trend – the rehabilitation of the historic 614 First Street North property (near the Guthrie Lab facility) into saleable market rate housing.  Since the developer, in addition to receiving historic tax credits, has also applied for public funding, in order to qualify for the public funding a portion of the housing would need to be set aside for affordable housing.  However, the affordable rental units have already been contracted out to the Minnesota Opera for their own use and their visiting students.  So essentially, none of that market rate housing will actually enter the market.  The Chair also mentioned that, according to Robert Thompson and Joe Horan of NRP, DMNA has the option of co-opting with other neighborhoods to pursue its specific housing goals.

After further discussion, the Chair moved and Al seconded to establish a housing committee (separate and apart from the NRP process) to focus on all aspects of housing, zoning and development in order to develop an overall housing policy.  The Chair was of the opinion that the formation of this committee would demonstrate to City Council and the Mayor’s Office that DMNA’s commitment to this issue was moving forward.   The motion was passed unanimously.

After the Chair sought nominations to chair the new housing committee, it was agreed to postpone action on nominations until the next regularly scheduled meeting.  In the meantime, Sue recommended three nonboard members who had previously volunteered to work on DMNA’s housing and land use committees:  Dan Ashland, Head Architect for the Walker Art Center and resident of the Warehouse District; Rick and two architects who have served on the AIA Shelter committee.

VI.  Other Business

Responding to the Chair’s request for a physical location update, Andy passed around pictures of the $500 per month, ground level office space in LaSalle Plaza for board consideration.  Roberta moved and Sue seconded to be given authority to negotiate the lease for said space.  After the Chair entertained discussion, the motion was passed unanimously.

VII. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.

Signed and approved by

______________________________                                    ______________________________
Chair                                                                                       Secretary

Attachment 1

[Insert March 8, 2000 2-page letter with attached schematic plan from Rachel Ramadhyani]