Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association

Minutes from Board of Directors Meeting on Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hennepin Center for the Arts

528 Hennepin Avenue, Suite 310, Minneapolis, Minnesota

I.          Call to Order and Introductions

            Board Chair Carletta Sweet called the meeting to order at 6:37 p.m.

Other board members in attendance included Andy Hauer; Tom Hoch, Vice Chair; Cynthia Newsom, Treasurer; Scott Parkin, Secretary; and George Rosenquist.  Denise Holt and Kim Motes were absent.    

Guests in attendance included:  Paul Abdo and Bill Sheehan from Abdo Markethouse; Michelle Bruch, Downtown Journal; Edith-Nicole Cameron, Restorative Justice Community Action, Inc.; Tom Daniels and Andrea Peterson from Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development; Mark Martell, Audubon Minnesota; Jeff Washburne, City of Lakes Community Land Trust; and Bill Weiberg, The Westin Minneapolis.  

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.  Edith-Nicole Cameron noted that she would be giving the RJCA quarterly report instead of Gena Gerard, and Vice Chair Tom Hoch requested time to report on the City’s Keep Minneapolis Beautiful project during his Crime and Safety report.  The board approved the agenda as amended.

III.       Land Use Committee (LUC) Report

LUC Chair Andy Hauer introduced the following projects:

Hennepin Stages.  Paul Abdo and Bill Sheehan from Abdo Markethouse (AM) advised that they submitted a proposal to purchase from the City of Minneapolis the two-story plus lower level Hennepin Stages building (formerly known as Hey City Theatre) located at 824 Hennepin Avenue in the heart of the Hennepin Theatre District for the price of $890,000.  As the preliminary renderings were passed around, Abdo described his family-owned business and explained their intent to keep the second level theater space running for the next 20 years and to renovate the ground level into a restaurant.  AM also owns the five-story Café di Napoli building adjacent at 816 Hennepin Avenue which they plan to convert into 26 rental units above the ground floor restaurant space.  CPED staff said the sales price would cover all of the debt associated with the building.  Hoch explained that Hennepin Stages will have no connection with the Historic Theater Group which acted as interim management while the City sought a purchaser, lessee, manager or operator for the property.  A public hearing on this proposed sale will be held by the City on Tuesday, May 1, at 3:30 p.m. 

Sweet moved and Parkin seconded a motion to approve the City’s sale of Hennepin Stages to Abdo Markethouse.  Sweet called for discussion.  The motion passed. 

Westin Minneapolis.  The LUC Chair introduced Bill Weiberg, General Manager of The Westin Minneapolis hotel which is located in the former Farmers & Mechanics Bank building at 88 South 6th Street.  Mr. Weiberg described the renovations that were undertaken to retain the building’s historical features (e.g., chandeliers, marble, millwork, vault doors) and distributed photos of an external view of the building and of the lobby restaurant named ‘Bank’ along with lunch and dinner menus.  The hotel, which is scheduled to open on May 3, 2007, will have 214 rooms, ranging in price from $199 to $399 per night, and includes 19 suites, a penthouse suite on the 14th floor, health club, banquet space, and seating for 120 people in the restaurant.  The Westin is seeking a Class B liquor license with Sunday sales. 

Rosenquist moved and Hoch seconded a motion to approve the Class B liquor license with Sunday sales for The Westin Minneapolis hotel.  Sweet called for discussion.  The motion passed. 

Revue Project.  The LUC Chair advised that since the City staff requested the developer stick to its proposal submitted in response to the RFP, the developer chose not to give a presentation to the DMNA board. 

IV.       Crime and Safety Committee (CSC) Report

CSC Chair Tom Hoch reported on the following activities:

Restorative Justice Community Action, Inc.  The CSC Chair introduced Edith-Nicole Cameron, Community Coordinator, and reminded the board that the DMNA has funded this organization annually for the past several years.  Cameron gave an update on the organization’s work in the downtown neighborhood over the past 6 months and distributed its annual report.  She noted that between July 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006, RJCA addressed 362 incidents of livability crime across its 13-neighborhood service area of which 52 occurred in the Downtown neighborhood. 

Downtown cases included public urination, open bottle, possession of drug paraphernalia, loitering with the intent to buy or sell narcotics, disorderly conduct, small amounts of marijuana, consuming in public, underage consumption of alcohol, and underage possession of alcohol.  Cameron stated that during this period of time, 602 hours of community service was given to the First Precinct. 

Board members questioned how many total staff and capacity RJCA has to handle additional cases.  Cameron responded that there are two staff members working with the First Precinct and that the organization has a 5-year plan that addresses the timeframe for adding new staff. 

Cameron sought input from the board on how RJCA could get the business community involved, and if there were any additional offenses that could be addressed through restorative justice methods.  Board members suggested disorderly house, key in ignition, loud mufflers, aggressive panhandling, trespass, dog feces and dogs off leash as additional offenses.  Cameron also asked whether the DMNA’s Code of Conduct could be included in the packets given to offenders who participate in community conferencing.  The board supported this idea. 

Keep Minneapolis Beautiful.  Hoch advised that a new group called Keep Minneapolis Beautiful (KMB) received a $5,000 grant for a kick-off event to be held this spring to emphasize clean downtown streets.  KMB is seeking certification through Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest nonprofit community improvement and education organization focused on litter prevention, waste reduction, and community improvement.  Hoch also advised that KMB is working on a year-long communications strategy to change peoples’ perceptions about Downtown.  The plan focuses on reinforcing good behavior for people who do not litter, educating people about the problems that litter creates, and enforcing existing laws against littering to prosecute chronic offenders.  KMB is also working with the City to have waste receptacles emptied more frequently.  This effort ties in well with the Downtown Council’s special services district and the Walking Minneapolis project.

V.        Lights Out Twin Cities (LOTC) Program


Vice Chair Hoch introduced Mark Martell from Audubon Minnesota who gave a presentation to the board regarding the LOTC program, a joint effort by Audubon Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Wildlife Program, the Bell Museum of Natural History, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, and Bird Conservation Minnesota.  This program is an effort to save birds, energy and money by encouraging building owners, managers and employees in the downtown core to turn off unessential lights during certain periods of the year to protect migratory birds.  Martell stated that inexplicably, birds get confused by the bright lights and often collide into buildings and ultimately perish.  He noted that the cities of New York, Chicago, and Toronto have similar programs in place. 

Audubon Minnesota is requesting buildings 20 stories and taller to turn down exterior lights, dim lobby and atrium lighting, and turn off interior lights particularly on upper stories between midnight and dawn during the migratory period from March 15 to May 31, and from August 15 to October 31.  Several buildings in downtown Minneapolis have already joined the LOTC program including Wells Fargo, Accenture, US Bank Plaza, US Bankcorp Center, the IDS Center, and 225 South 6th Street.  Martell is seeking a letter of support from the DMNA for this initiative. 

Hoch moved and Parkin seconded a motion to send a letter of support to Audubon Minnesota for the Lights Out program, and to give Audubon Minnesota permission to publicize the DMNA’s backing of the initiative.  Sweet called for any discussion.  The motion passed. 

VI.       City of Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT) Presentation

Chair Sweet introduced Jeff Washburne, Director of CLCLT, who described his organization’s model and how it helps to put home ownership within reach for families and individuals in Minneapolis earning less than 80 percent of area medium income (with preference given to those earning less than 50 percent) through its Homebuyer Initiated Program (HIP).  Qualified homebuyers are eligible for two grants:  the Affordability Investment Grant which reduces the amount of mortgage financing needed to purchase; and the Rehab Grant which provides up to $25,000 to repair homes purchased through HIP.  In exchange for the grants, homebuyers agree to the Community Land Trust model of home ownership which keeps the homes affordable for future buyers.  Benefits to the CLT model include:

·         Providing quality, permanently affordable housing, primarily for low- to moderate-income families.

·         Increasing affordable housing choices in Minneapolis.

·         Offering a unique option for home ownership.

·         Helping land trust residents and neighbors take care of their homes and neighborhoods.

·         Ensuring that land in the city is used to improve community life.

CLCLT was incorporated in the fall of 2002 and is one of hundreds of CLTs in the nation today.  During its 4-year history, CLCLT has assisted 53 households though none within the downtown Minneapolis community. 

Washburne is seeking a letter of support rather than financial assistance and encouraged the DMNA to refer developers to CLCLT to help maintain affordability options in the downtown Minneapolis community. 

Sweet moved and Newsom seconded a motion to send a letter of support to CLCLT.  Sweet called for any discussion.  The motion passed. 

VII.     Consideration of February 13, 2007 Board Minutes

In order to give board members time to review, consideration of the February board minutes was postponed until the May meeting.

VIII.    Consideration of April 2007 Financial Report

Staff member Christie Rock distributed and explained the F2007 Budget vs. Actual as of April 2007.

Hoch moved and Parker seconded a motion to receive and file the April 2007 Financial document.  Sweet called for any discussion.  The motion passed. 

IX.       Old Business / New Business / Other Business

Website Redesign.  Secretary Scott Parkin gave an update on the communications/ website redesign project.  He indicated that he has received five estimates for the cost of redesigning the DMNA website.  Estimates range from $8,000 to just over $20,000.  The prices reflect the size and skills of the various marketing and communications firms.  The higher price brings more technical sophistication; the lower price offers a new look but less functionality.  Parkin’s plan is to form a small group to review the proposals, review the DMNA website and similar websites, establish goals and objectives for the project, and narrow the estimates to two firms.  Parkin would then invite the two finalists to give a presentation to the DMNA board. 

Discussion followed regarding an amount the DMNA should spend on the website redesign. 

Walking Minneapolis.  Staff person Christie Rock noted that the Walking Minneapolis scope of service is in process at the City, and there should be an executed agreement in place by the end of May. 

X.        Adjournment

Being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

Signed this ________ day of ________________________, 2007.

_______________________________             _______________________________
Chair                                                                   Secretary