NeighborhoodFest® and Summit
I hosted the 7th Annual Neighborhood Summit. This year’s theme was, “Our Riverfront, Our Future, Bridging Communities”. We welcomed the Minnesota Vikings and our many new businesses into the neighborhoods.
- When I first took office in 2006, I initiated monthly Community CARE Meetings in order to improve public safety and housing in the Third Ward. These meetings continue to identify solutions to housing, safety and livability problems, and in 2012 we expanded our focus to include issues such as: roadway conditions & traffic: sex, drugs & prostitution issues, and a host of critical issues for our community. Since 2006 I have held over 160 Community & City staff meetings and open forums to connect our community, foster relationships and solve problems.
- As a result of the work of the CARE committee, the police, the SE Strategic Task Force, and implementation of city ordinances, we saw a 69% reduction in Noisy/Unruly Assemblies in the Third Ward since 2009. In the 4th Precinct, we saw burglaries go down 12% and 238 guns were taken off the street. In the 2nd Precinct, we saw a 60% crime reduction in focus zones, violent crime down by 80%, property crimes down by 68% and livability crimes down 23%.
- Building upon the successful Entertainment District Management Work Group begun in 2011, I expanded the effort and created the Riverfront Entertainment District, (RED), a public safety initiative that includes the 2nd Police Precinct, a coalition of business leaders, non-profits, and the Northeast Chamber of Commerce to reduce crime and livability problems along popular entertainment corridors by adding more officers to the area in our growing Northeast Entertainment District.
- Initiating new housing projects takes a lot of collaboration. Because of my efforts, more than 1,000 units of housing were approved, are in the works, or have been built in the Third Ward, including:
- Historic A Mill: The preservation of the Pillsbury A-Mill is a critical project. Restoration plans are completed, with a vision of repurposing the mill to accommodate more than 252 affordable artists’ housing units.
- 929 3rd Ave NE: Old Third Townhomes were completed in partnership with Habitat for Humanity
- 301 Main St SE: Restoration plans have been completed to repurpose the mill to accommodate 252 affordable artist-housing units.
- 1101 University Ave SE: Doran companies will be building a 5-story, 94 unit apartment building at 1101 University Ave SE
- 401 8th St SE: Andrew Riverside Development with the Andrew Riverside Church is underway
- 1011 4th St SE: A 12-unit housing development in the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood
- 1313 5th St SE: The project is approved and underway. It will be 326 apartment units and commercial space located at the former John Marshall High School. I will include a study area complete with artifacts for the high school and pool, a large outdoor court yard, underground parking, and public parking for community and commercial use.
- 501 Main St SE: Mill and Main Luxury Apartments, Doran Companies. It will feature a large courtyard deck with pools, grilling and other amenities including an exercise area, high-grade interior, amenities, and underground parking. Within an easy walk outside is the third greatest riverfront in the world: the Mississippi Riverfront, a great place for walking, jogging or biking to and throughout our great city.
- Most seniors want to stay in their own homes. With the right mix of services and support, they can do so. Catholic Eldercare and I are developing an aging-in-place program for Northeast Minneapolis.
- I’ve been extensively involved in housing redevelopment on the North side. The Green Homes North program will provide homebuyers with newly constructed green homes on city-owned vacant lots. Green Homes North combines quality green design, energy efficiency, and sustainability standards. Furthermore, it creates jobs and develops the skills of our workforce. 2012 was the first year of a planned five-year program to build 100 green homes in North Minneapolis.
- The Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which was established because of my work in 2007 to prevent home foreclosures, has expanded in the Ward. Its goal is to increase home ownership.
Business & Economic Development
- The Vikings Stadium was a highly contentious issue and remains a sticking point for many people. I voted for the Stadium. Let me explain why — and what steps I took in advance of the Stadium vote to ensure that it really did serve the residents of Minneapolis.
- There were two factors that went into my decision to support the Stadium. The first was jobs and the second was the connection between the Stadium and the Target Center.
- Jobs, Jobs, Jobs—The Stadium will bring 7,500 jobs to the City of Minneapolis. In the construction phase, it will bring construction jobs. In August, before we approved the stadium but in anticipation that it might be approved, the City Council set some very high goals for contracting with minority and women-owned businesses — over 30%. We set the bar high and when we entered into discussion about the stadium, this was the foundation.
The Stadium is in my Ward. I consider those construction jobs, as well as ongoing jobs at and associated with the Stadium, to be a benefit to residents in my Ward and in the city at large.
- Target Center Funding—Every year since the Target Center purchase agreement was put in place, city taxpayers have been on the hook for $5 million for maintenance and refurbishing of the Target Center. I wasn't on the Council when the Target Center deal was made. I didn't agree to it, but it's a reality I have to live with, along with every other Minneapolis resident.
This weighed heavily in our discussions about the Vikings Stadium. The final agreement includes an income stream for the Target Center, which will remove the burden of Target Center upkeep from Minneapolis taxpayers. That's a big change. For 20 years the City Council has had to figure it out was to do with budget shortfalls. Now it's off our shoulders.
- A $30 million-plus shortfall in Vikings stadium financing from the slow rollout and sluggish sales of electronic pull-tabs has been identified. A solution to this problem has been identified: "It would include two funding sources: approximately $24.5 million in one-time revenues from tax on the current cigarette inventory once the tax is increased. Gov. Dayton is proposing an increase from the current tax of $1.23 per pack to $2.52 per pack. The $24.5 million would be deposited into the stadium reserve account, eliminating its projected deficit," Frans said. The second source would be to end what Frans called a "tax avoidance" strategy that corporations with sales in Minnesota and elsewhere take advantage of under current law. Currently, he said, some businesses are able to avoid Minnesota corporate income taxes by attributing Minnesota sales to affiliates in other states. The change, known as Minnesota Unitary Sales, would require reporting all those revenues in Minnesota, increasing a company's income taxes and revenues to the state. Those revenues would be approximately $26 million in the first year and $20 million per year after that. The revenue would be used as the first backup plan for stadium financing, Frans said. The money would be collected and deposited into the general fund, but would not be used for the stadium unless needed, Frans said. See: http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/207733951.html
- Other Benefits to the City—The Stadium is not the only thing being developed with this project. There is also a large central park in front of the stadium and a transportation hub. There will be additional business development around the stadium. The Ryan project will bring $400 million to the City of Minneapolis—with a total of 6,000 jobs. It will generate additional activity in the area and — I hope — those activities will generate even more jobs.
- The City Charter—Some people are unhappy that there was no ballot referendum. Susan L. Segal is the City Attorney for Minneapolis. She researched the City Charter before there was a vote to determine if the Vikings Stadium required a referendum. In her professional opinion, it did not.
Some say that she gave the recommendation that she thought the City wanted to hear. But how would she know what we wanted to hear? We had never taken a vote on it. Ms. Segal is a woman of great integrity and I do not believe she would jeopardize her career for a stadium. I voted to accept her report that a referendum was not necessary.
Why not do it anyway? Timing was a problem. Timing of the referendum would have made it extremely difficult to get things prepared for the State legislature, which also needed to act.
- A Risk Worth Taking—We really don't know the full potential of the Stadium yet. I believe it will bring jobs and other economic activity to that part of our city.
- Much of the work I do on the City Council clears the way for new businesses to take root in our community. In 2012, several new businesses began or are being build in the Third Ward, including:
- 522 E. Hennepin Ave. Rusty Taco
- 324 W Broadway Ave: Wings N’ Things
- 233 E. Hennepin Ave: New Bohemia
- 2822 Washington Ave N: MN Snap
- 2559 Lyndale Ave N: Northside Food Market
- With large business developments, I work to understand the communities goals so I can work well with the developer and then to engage the community in discussion with the developer. When the developer and the community have different ideas, I work to help them come together to arrive at the best possible project. Among projects I helped shepherd this year are:
- Grain Belt Office Building: Restoration plans include more than 200 market-rate apartments and renovation of the historic office building for commercial, retail, and office space.
- Mattress Factory: 515 5th Street Northeast will become market rate apartments. The former mattress site was in mortgage foreclosure. I worked with Hennepin County to bring this building back on the tax rolls and improve this area for housing. A developer has been selected and plans are moving forward; approval is expected in April.
- Granary Corridor: I worked with a team of planners, engineers, architects, and community members to analyze the future of the Granary Corridor. Findings from our study were presented to the public this year. Information can be found on the city’s website under Granary Road.
- I am a strong advocate of multi-modal transportation and the “complete streets” model of transit development that ensures mass transit; biking and walking are considered in transit planning. In 2012, the City Council approved recommendations for the Bottineau Light Rail Corridor and I added Bus Rapid Transit connections to be included in the plan in order to connect North & Northeast with the rest of our city, ensuring that we all have robust transit options. New bike lanes were added to Central Avenue NE.
- I formed the University Avenue NE/SE Traffic Work Group to address problems with traffic, noise, speed and related problems. The work will continue with our public works department and other partners this year.
- In my role on the City Council, I work to ensure our infrastructure is safe and adequate. This meant that, among others, in 2012 I collaborated with:
- County Commissioner Stenglin, to create an iconic Lowry Avenue bridge, and
- Governor Dayton, fellow City Council Members and the Mayor to make the Plymouth Avenue bridge a top priority for our city and our State. Governor Dayton made the Plymouth Avenue Bridge his top priority and the $ 8 Million dollars to fund the bridge repair was supported by the Minnesota legislature. The Plymouth Avenue Bridge will be completed Spring of 2013, and will have reduced traffic lanes, dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes, and will be included in the Minneapolis Park board’s RiverFirst plan.
- In addition, the partnership between the City, State, the Park Board and myself has made bridge repair an opportunity to expand my goal of more biking and pedestrian areas in the neighborhood and reduce the impact of traffic on our residential streets.
- The RiverFirst Steering Committee on which I serve works to create and implement a coordinated vision for sustainable development and preservation of the Mississippi River. In 2012, the Park Board Committee approved our recommendation to authorize an agreement with Tom Leader/Kennedy Violich Architecture for RiverFirst priority projects, including:
- Schematic design and performance criteria/design guidelines for part of Scherer Park
- Schematic design of the “educational corridor” along 26th Avenue North and 22nd Avenue Northeast greenway between Nellie Stone Johnson Community School and the Northeast green campus
- Schematic design of continuous, immediately-implementable bike/pedestrian trail loops along Plymouth Avenue to Lowry Avenue
- Schematic design/engineering of Broadway and Plymouth Avenue knot bridges
- West River Parkway extension from Ole Olson Park to North Mississippi Regional Park
- A feasibility study of river islands
- I initiated the partnership between the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board and the City of Minneapolis in what is now the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, and I am a founding member of this organization. The organization allows Minneapolis to continue its riverfront revitalization efforts in a more effective, efficient manner. We made significant progress this year updating the plan and communicating with our community. The city council will be approving the Above the Falls Plan revision for the Riverfront in Northeast & North Minneapolis this year. The RiverFirst and the Above the Falls Plan have close communication and partnerships with City departments, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, staff, other council members and our community.
- I serve on the Asian Carp Task Force, a Statewide body that is workings to assess the risk posed to our rivers and lakes by the invasive Asian Carp. Because of my work, the City Council passed a recommendation to the Asian Carp Task Force that included immediate funding for a study on carp population and movement, as well as installation of barriers along our waterways and funding of research on invasive species by the University of Minnesota. A coalition of State, local, Federal offices and broad State and inter State organizations meet regularly in order to report on and move initiatives forward at all levels.
- I serve on the Homegrown Minneapolis-Implementation Task Force which has and continues to advocate and implement the expansion of healthy food options in Minneapolis making changes to our city ordinances to require healthy food choices in our all of our convenience stores, and the expansion of local farmers markets in all areas of the city. In 2012, the City Council passed a comprehensive ordinance providing direction for the growth of market gardens and urban farms. In the Third Ward, a new community garden took root in the Hawthorne neighborhood – the Kwanzaa Community Garden.