City leaders working on developing plan for Lyn-Lake area

With barely enough time to catch his breath after the Feb. 1 city approval of the Uptown Small Area Plan, City Council Member Ralph Remington (10th Ward) is rolling out another planning process, this time for the Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street area. 

Like its Uptown counterpart, the Lyn-Lake plan will be a 20-year land-use plan that lays out a vision for future development of the area. Building height, density and type, options for transit systems and guidelines for open spaces are among many topics that will be discussed.

Remington is working with City Council Member Robert 

Lilligren (6th Ward) and city staff on the plan. The city sent letters about the process to neighborhood organizations, business associations and other stakeholders this month, requesting representatives of the groups to be part of a steering committee for the plan. The committee will advise city planners throughout the process.

Amanda Arnold, a city planner who helped oversee the Uptown plan and will be in the same role for Lyn-Lake, said she hopes to get the committee assembled and meeting in about a month. A community visioning session will likely take place this spring, she said.

The whole planning process, which will include numerous public meetings, should take a year or less, Arnold said. The Uptown plan took two years to complete, but Arnold and Remington said the experience gained in Uptown and the less contentious nature of development in Lyn-Lake should speed the process.

“I don’t know if people feel as much urgency at Lyn-Lake as they do in Uptown yet or not,” she said. “I just haven’t experienced that.”     

The city hired Minneapolis-based development consultant Cunningham Group to guide much of the Uptown Small Area Plan. Whether a consultant will be hired for the Lyn-Lake plan has yet to be decided. It’s possible city staff will do all the work, Arnold said.

Lyn-Lake’s boundaries have not been set yet. They will be discussed at some of the early meetings, Arnold said.

Many involved in the Uptown plan wanted Lyn-Lake included in that process, but Remington said that would have made the plan too unwieldy.

“Then that’s not a small area plan,” he said.” “That’s something else. You can’t get specific.”

The Lyn-Lake plan will fill the gap between the Uptown plan, which ends at Bryant Avenue, and the Midtown Minneapolis Plan, which ends at Blaisdell Avenue.

“Part of the reason we’re doing this is that our [comprehensive] plan suggests that we should do detailed planning around all of our activity centers,” Arnold said. “Whenever you have an activity center, there are just a lot of issues, good and bad. It’s a place where a lot of people are coming to and we want to give it the attention that it needs.” 

Many Lyn-Lake stakeholders are looking forward to the planning process.

“This is probably something that should have been done a decade ago,” said Larry Ludeman, a co-chairman of the Lyn-Lake Business Association, who runs Ludeman Real Estate in the area.

Ludeman said the area has been the site of intense development in recent years, and it would have been good to have a plan in place to deal with that. But developers are still active in the area and it’s not too late, he said.

Gregg Scott, the business association’s other co-chairman, who owns the Herkimer building and the Lyndale Theatre near Lyndale and Lake Street, said improving the connection between Lyn-Lake and Uptown and creating a better transit system are among the changes he’d like to see in the area.

“We need to make sure we structure everything so a really viable strip can be created from Lyndale to Hennepin,” he said. 

Remington said the Lyn-Lake process would be similar to that of the Uptown plan.

“[The Uptown planning process] is one of the best projects that I’ve worked on in many different aspects of my life,” he said. “I would do much of it the same. I think we hit the perfect pitch with the project.”

More than 700 stakeholders were involved with that plan, which has received mixed reviews.

“I thought it was a well-organized approach,” said Ken Kalina, a Lowry Hill East Board member who served on the steering committee for the Uptown plan. “I personally am proud of the product, but the proof will be in the pudding as to whether it is cited when developers build future projects.”

Kalina said many stakeholders were wary of the Uptown plan at first, having felt burned by the city and developers in the past. But the process did a good job of including input from a variety of people, he said. 

Michael Lander, president of Minneapolis development firm Lander Group, said he didn’t think the plan was visionary. The city’s existing comprehensive plan was already good, Lander said, and the changes made in the Uptown Small Area Plan are not a strong step forward.

“I’m not confident it’s going to change in any significant way the battles surrounding development,” he said.

Lander was concerned that the plan was simply a response to the spate of development in Uptown in recent years.

Remington said he was confident the plan would lay out specific guidelines for future development that the community and developers could be proud of. The Lyn-Lake plan will do the same, he said. 

“This literally was hours and hours of conversation to get to this point,” Remington said. “It didn’t happen by accident. It was really a thought out, thoughtful process.”

The city is now performing a zoning study for the Uptown Small Area Plan, which will become part of the city’s new comprehensive plan later this year. 

Get Involved

 

To see the Uptown plan, visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/PLANNING/uptown-plan.asp. To get involved in the Lyn-Lake process, contact Amanda Arnold at 673-3242 or amanda.arnold@ci.minneapolis.mn.us.

 

 

 

Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or jweyer@mnpubs.com.