Park Board approves naturalized design for The Mall

design plan for The Mall
Park Board commissioners have approved a design plan for The Mall in Uptown that will replace two blocks of roadway with green space and trees. Submitted image

The Southwest Service Area Master Plan has finally been fully approved after commissioners reached an agreement on The Mall in Uptown.

After a divided board was unable to decide on the design for The Mall in October, commissioners voted unanimously on Nov. 4 to go along with the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) vision to naturalize paved sections of the park. Plans for all other 41 neighborhood parks in Southwest were approved on Oct. 21.

The CAC design for The Mall was among the most debated features of the Southwest Parks Plan, which will map out the future of neighborhood parks in the area for decades to come. Members of the CAC chose a design that will replace the roadway between Bde Maka Ska Boulevard and Irving Avenue with grass and trees.

Katie Jones, a CAC member who encouraged the Park Board to adopt the design, said the plan would better meet the mission of providing outdoor recreation space instead of a road used mainly for parking.

“This dense, high-renter area has a real need for park space and community garden space,” Jones said.

Commissioner Meg Forney (At Large) had previously opposed the design but said she changed her mind after discussions with CAC members and local historians about the park and its roadway. Other commissioners who had voted against the design — as well as Commissioner Kale Severson (District 2), who had been absent for the tied October vote — supported the CAC design.

The plan would maintain the current roadway between Irving and Humboldt avenues and convert the street into a shared-use “woonerf ” street between Humboldt and Hennepin avenues. Other proposed features include native plantings and rain gardens, community gardens along the Midtown Greenway and improved trail connections for bikers and pedestrians. The Park Board and Hennepin County also plan to team up to add an improved plaza and play area near the Uptown Transit Station.