Midtown Land Use Plan recommends higher density, reopening Nicollet at Lake Street

Plan needs to pass Zoning and Planning Committee and then full City Council

On Nov. 28 the city Planning Commission approved a Midtown Minneapolis Land Use and Development Plan. The plan is intended to &#8220guide development activities” in that area and recommends reopening Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street and allowing higher-density development.

The plan covers Lake Street from Blaisdell Avenue to 10th Avenues across I-35W and the edge of the Midtown Greenway area south to West 31st Street as the north-south border. The Midtown Greenway trench runs just north of West 29th Street.

Work on the plan began in 2003, according to the city staff report, when a steering committee including residents, business owners, elected officials and organizations formed. Data compiled in preparation for the plan include an &#8220Urban Forensic Analysis” of the area's physical conditions and &#8220Market Analysis” of the area's demographics.

In addition, there have been numerous opportunities for public input, including workshops and meetings in May and October of 2004. According to the staff report, the input gathered at the public meeting included the following major components:

– Encouraging mixed-use retail developments;

– Featuring off-street parking, especially for business areas;

– Increasing home ownership opportunities;

– Developing residential uses in a range of styles and prices;

– Providing more theaters, art-related uses and public spaces;

– Reopening Nicollet Avenue where it meets Lake Street;

– Improving access to the Midtown Greenway; and

– Increasing pedestrian amenities.

The plan deems the area around I-35W more appropriate for larger-scale developments that support transportation services. A few of the many suggestions include restoring West 29th Street, which runs parallel to the Greenway, reconnecting Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street and identifying potential park land along the Greenway.

Based on all of the suggestions and plan components, two overarching recommendations from the Community Planning and Economic Development department (CPED) include:

– Opening Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street and reconstructing the Nicollet bridge near Lake Street, and

– Considering a zoning overlay zone for higher-density and mixed-use developments.

The Commission recommended implementing these recommendations and completing a zoning study in the area.

CPED Community Planning representative Pam Miner said in an e-mail that the plan now goes to the Zoning and Planning Committee Dec. 15, then to the full City Council Dec. 23. Public comments on the plan included with the Planning Commission report will be passed along to the Council.

While this plan moves through the city, another is in the works, focusing on the Midtown Greenway, west of Blaisdell Avenue and east of 10th Avenue. The final guidelines are expected to be out in February, according to Senior City Planner Beth Elliot.