City hall update // City panel votes to shut down New China Wok at 50th & France

New China Wok, 5033 France Ave., has violated 193 health code violations over the past four years, racking up $17,100 in unpaid fines. 

A city panel voted Sept. 24 to revoke the restaurant’s license because of the fines. New Wok China, however, has already been shuttered since Aug. 27 because of the health code violation.

Michael Cain represents New Wok China owner Xio Ben Lan. He said his client has been working with a consultant to deal with the health code problems and pleaded for more time from the council. He even said his client could pay the city $5,000 immediately. 

“We’re asking for Mr. Lan to have the ability to pay this money to the city,” said Cain, arguing that Lan’s restructuring would allow him to turn a profit. 

The city’s Regulatory Energy and Environment Committee ignored that request, although Lan does have until the next City Council meeting to pay the $17,100 in fines to keep his license. 

Dan Huff of the city’s Environmental Management and Safety division said 55 of Lan’s 193 violations were deemed critical. Critical violations, he said, mean that the problem poses an immediate health risk and can cause people to get sick. New China Wok’s citations included failure to control pests. 

Tuthill: Late-night 

noise issue in 

Uptown diminishing

It’s been a full summer since City Council Member Meg Tuthill created a task force to deal with late-night noise in Uptown, and the 10th Ward representative says recent initiatives have worked. 

“Guess how many complaints I got this summer about the noise from Uptown? Zero,” Tuthill told a group of neighbors and business owners at an event at Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group on Sept. 19. “I got one or two phone calls from folks telling me how much better things were.”

The task force came up with several ideas that, according to Tuthill and bar owners, have worked wonders. 

Among the initiatives: 

Uptown businesses pooled their money to fund four extra police officers to patrol the area Thursday through Sunday. 

The city installed taxi stands to help get bar patrons quickly out of the neighborhoods at bar close. 

Bars and restaurants started a “Hush” campaign that reminded patrons via drink coasters and signs to keep it down when leaving.

Outdoor patios lowered their music later in the evening and directed more of their speakers away from residential areas. 

MoZaic, a new, 400-stall parking ramp opened and helped with the problem of bar patrons parking on residential streets. 

“We were looking for balance. I think we’ve achieved it,” Tuthill said. “Now we just need to keep our eye on the prize and continue to work on issues that come up for both our businesses that are healthy and well, and for our neighbors.”

‘Railgating’ plan gives fans another pre-game option

The City of Minneapolis has rolled out a plan to allow for “railgating” near the Metrodome in an effort to increase the pre-game experience even before a new stadium is built. 

What exactly is railgating?

The city will shut down two blocks of 5th Street between Park Avenue and 5th Avenue. A beer stand will sell local brews and 16 food trucks will be allowed in the area. The city will also set up portable restrooms. 

Mayor R.T. Rybak called the idea part of a “Purple Path” concept that is meant to connect the Metrodome and later the new Vikings stadium with the west side of downtown. 

“There really isn’t an urban model for a football stadium yet, and what we really want to do is reinvent the gameday experience,” Rybak said. 

The city began the railgating plan for the Sept. 23 game against the San Francisco 49ers. 

Rybak said the city is also exploring the extension of some type of tailgating to 1st Avenue in the Warehouse District.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Stadium Facilities Authority, which was formed to oversee the new stadium, is close to selecting an architect to design the new facility.

The finalists for the job include AECOM, designer of Spartak Stadium in Moscow; Ewing Cole, designer of the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey; HKS, designer of the new stadiums of the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts; HNTB, the company that will design the new San Francisco 49ers stadium; and Populous, the designer of Target Field. 

Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority said she expects to select a firm by early October.  

Reach Nick Halter at

Property tax bills 

taking shape

Minneapolis homeowners will soon get an idea of what their property tax bill will look like for 2013. Early indications point to a tax increase for many homes.

The city, Hennepin County and Minneapolis Public Schools have proposed their maximum tax levies. These maxim levies cap how high each unit of government will raise their tax levy, but oftentimes they reduce their proposed levy.

The city has proposed a 1.7 percent increase. Hennepin County has proposed a 1 percent increase. Minneapolis Public Schools has proposed a 

7.4 percent increase. 

In November, property owners bill receive notices informing them what these increases will mean for their tax bills in 2013.