consultants are sandburs

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Their backyard. Putting growth where growth and maintainance of vitality makes sense, Flaherty and Northstar notwithstanding.

From a Strib op-ed, here, this extended excerpt stating common sense thinking, (an anathema to would-be Ramsey land profiteers):

Hofstede likened the project to “the canary in the coal mine,” meaning that if the city allowed the destruction of Dinkytown’s village atmosphere, then no place in the city would be safe from the tower crane.

But that’s grossly misleading. In this case, the village atmosphere to be destroyed is an ugly, one-story convenience store and a shabby surface parking lot. The Opus project will add to the district’s college-town character, not detract from it. In an urban setting, the village is defined not by parking lots but by sidewalk activity — and 140 new apartments should enhance the pedestrian buzz.

As for the rest of the city, Council Member Elizabeth Glidden was right to declare: “If we’re not able to say yes to this project … how and when are we going to be able to say yes to density?”

Indeed, Minneapolis appears to be turning an important corner on the population growth question. As Mayor R.T. Rybak has often stated, the city won’t be able to afford the reinvestments in infrastructure and services that all older cities require unless it accepts greater density, especially in commercial nodes and along transit corridors. For far too long, city leaders have been timid on that question, as these numbers suggest.

The metro population tripled to 3.4 million over a span of six decades (1950-2010), while St. Paul and especially Minneapolis shrunk. Minneapolis lost nearly a third of its population between 1950 and 1990, and since then has achieved only modest gains.

Meanwhile, peer cities such as Seattle, Denver and Portland have grown impressively, each grabbing a significant share of metro growth. Each has added between 140,000 and 166,000 residents since 1990, mainly by retrofitting industrial areas for housing, encouraging density in commercial districts and emphasizing transit to ease traffic congestion. By sad comparison, Minneapolis and St. Paul combined to add slightly more than 43,000.

How it is. Which is the point of sensible and well-grounded criticism of Northstar, something independent from Watchdog purile Taxpayer League reflex barking.

Northstar attracted Flaherty, so watch how that plays out long-term. Ten or fifteen years from now, ask Matt Look, why did you intentionally undermine the community; or praise him as a visionary, but Ramsey's Northstar stop was advocated by him and Jim Deal, among others, and that is as intriguing a pairing as I can imagine. A spear with twin tips. Or put Dan Erhart there too, and make it a trident. Boosterism as its own reward, wisdom being a separate question.

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