County officials trim West 50th parking loss

Hennepin County officials have tweaked their controversial West 50th Street redesign project, adding 12 parking spots at Penn Avenue and two parking spots at the France Avenue and Xerxes Avenue business nodes while taking two more parking spots from the Bryant Avenue node.

They also announced that the redesign would be delayed indefinitely past a July start date, so the city of Minneapolis can upgrade traffic signals with left-turn arrows.

At a hostile community meeting in May, business owners and some neighbors complained about parking that will be lost when the county-owned 50th switches from a four lane road to three lanes with a center left-turn lane. The county announced its newest plan at a July 20 task force meeting of businesspeople, residents and city and county staff.

County Director of Transportation and Public Works Jim Grube said the latest design means a total of five parking spots will be lost at the France node, eight at the Xerxes node and 27 at the Penn node.

Grube also said planners readjusted bus stops and spread the parking to both sides of the street, putting spaces closer to all major business nodes.

That flexibility wasn't there at the Bryant node because of its proximity to Lyndale Avenue and the traffic flow, Grube said. That node will lose 38 parking spots overall.

Dick Henke, owner of The Malt Shop at the intersection of Bryant Avenue and West 50th Street, said that change would kill business vitality and turn his node into a "ghost town."

Dorfman countered with an example. She said the St. Louis Park development Excelsior on Grand garnered similar fears because of county road access limits on nearby businesses, but business still went up.

She said there are too many competing interests on West 50th to satisfy everyone, and the neighborhood-inspired redesign still makes sense.

Dorfman said the county would look at a few issues raised by the task force, such as the Bryant area parking concerns.