City seeks help from design professionals for development

Mayor R.T. Rybak is creating design teams of architects and design professionals to help community groups craft development visions for their neighborhoods.

The Minneapolis chapter of the American Institute of Architects plans to recruit 150 architects for the &#8220Great City” design teams, Rybak announced Feb. 28 during a forum at the Museum of Russian Art in Southwest Minneapolis.

The architects plan to work with the Urban Land Institute, the University of Minnesota and city planners to incorporate the ideas into city development plans.

&#8220I want to make a call to the community to actively engage in planning the vision for our city,” Rybak said.

Besides announcing plans for the design teams, Rybak highlighted three priorities he would like to see guide growth in Minneapolis. First, streets should be seen as &#8220destinations,” he said, pointing to the revitalization of Washington Avenue as a top priority.

Second, he called for the creation of &#8220urban villages” - self-contained communities wherein residents could find distinct retailers and services within walking distance of their homes.

&#8220Minneapolis doesn't want to be a McCity,” Rybak said. &#8220We want to be a collection of different urban villages, each with its own character, growing out of the best of who we are.”

Rybak highlighted Eat Street (Nicollet Avenue), Lake Street and Central Avenues as streets that have been reenergized with diverse businesses.

Finally, Rybak said community leaders need to work together to guide growth in coming years. He noted that from 1990 to 2000, the city added 14,000 residents and is expected to see another 50,000 newcomers in the next 15 years.

&#8220Growth to a city is like wind to a sailor. If you can direct it, the wind can take you great places,” he said. &#8220So, one of our great challenges in the next few years should be to aggressively articulate where we want this city to grow.”

The Feb. 28 forum was Rybak's second in a series of forums where he is outlining his second-term agenda. The third forum will focus on the city's efforts to reduce economic disparities among residents. A location for the speech has not yet been determined.

The mayor has solicited comments about his second-term priorities at his blog - greatcityforums.blogspot.com

The forums lead up to the Rybak's &#8220State of the City” address on April 18.