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Riverfront/Mill District : Development News

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Minneapolis' C-TAP: Free Assistance for Co-Op Founders

The City of Minneapolis is launching a free technical assistance program for budding co-op founders, starting with a two-hour presentation on April 20th.
Dubbed C-TAP (Cooperative Technical Assistance Program), the initiative is an outgrowth of the city’s successful B-TAP (Business Technical Assistance Program) for aspiring small and midsize business owners. Like B-TAP, C-TAP is an immersive program designed to support co-op founders and supporters from ideation through opening—and, in some cases, beyond.
According to the City of Minneapolis, C-TAP will unfold over three years, in three steps.
Step one, happening this year, focuses on “co-op readiness planning” for “groups that are thinking of forming a Co-op…to get a clear picture of the legal, operational and organizational requirements.” It’s basically a crash course in what it means to start a co-op.
Step two, set for next year, will focus on “board member and organizational design.” That means training prospective board members in the basics (and nuances) of co-op governance, as well as “one-on-one technical assistance” for select co-ops that require guidance designing their organizational structures. Step two is available to not-yet-open co-ops and existing co-ops that want or need outside assistance.
Step three, set for 2018, will revolve around “sustainability [and] profitability.” In other words, setting and keeping newly opened co-ops on the path to stable, long-term profitability and prosperity.
C-TAP’s kickoff event, a two-hour presentation dubbed “The State of Co-ops in Minneapolis,” is scheduled for April 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Open Book in Downtown East. The presentation will discuss the city’s current “co-op inventory” and the industries supported by Minneapolis co-ops, introduce and explain C-TAP, and discuss next steps for co-op founders and principals interested in participating.
On May 11, Step one officially gets underway with an eight-week “co-op feasibility” course. Held at the City of Minneapolis Innovation Center in the Crown Roller Mill Building near City Hall, the course’s eight sessions will cover the basics of the co-op development process, co-op business plans, finances, cooperative governance, legalities and other topics. Registration is free and open to the public, but prospective co-op groups need to have at least two participants and have selected a product or service to offer prior to signing up.
The City of Minneapolis is no stranger to co-op support. According to city government, Minneapolis has plowed some $3.5 million into local co-ops through existing development and support initiatives, and has an additional $850,000 outstanding in loans to three in-development co-ops—including Wirth Cooperative Grocery, a first-of-its-kind grocery co-op in the city’s underserved Northside, slated to open later this year.

Alatus releases drawings for Mpls' second-tallest residential tower

Alatus LLC is inching closer to breaking ground on 200 Central, a 40-story residential tower in the heart of St. Anthony Main. At 467 feet, 200 Central would be Minneapolis’ second tallest all-residential structure after The Carlyle — the distinctive sandstone tower immediately across the Mississippi River. If all goes according to plan, major site work could begin as early as spring 2016.
According to plans filed with the city of Minneapolis last year, early plans for 200 Central called for 325 residential units. The unit count has since been scaled back. Alatus is leaning toward condominiums, rather than rental apartments, though a final decision isn’t expected until closer to groundbreaking. The most recent renderings show a soaring glass tower, topped with a gently sloping crown that occupies about half a three- or four-story podium footprint.
200 Central replaces Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel, the St. Anthony Athletic Club and some surface parking. The 900-stall St. Anthony Falls Ramp will remain open and operational, according to the proposal, although it’s the subject of separate development murmurs.
The project will have more than 300 dedicated parking spaces, including about 100 tandem stalls for residents. Plans call for a spacious outdoor pool and deck area several stories above street level, plus a high-end fitness center, day spa and multi-use community meeting rooms. It’s not clear whether the structure will have first-floor retail or restaurant space.
The tower is the latest in a parade of announced and in-progress construction projects in the St. Anthony Main-Marcy Holmes corridor.
A few blocks north, Lennar is beginning preliminary work on the 5.45-acre Superior Plating site, the future home of a two-phase, mid-rise mixed-use development. To the northwest, Shafer Richardson’s proposal to replace Nye’s Polonaise Room with a 30-story apartment tower met fierce resistance from neighborhood groups and preservationists, but a scaled-back version so far appears on track. A stone’s throw to the south, the A-Mill Artist Lofts have breathed new life into one of Minneapolis’ most historically significant blocks. Other projects, some rivaling Alatus’ proposal in scale (if not height), are planned or proposed for 200 Central’s immediate environs.

MTN joins creative mix in Northeast Minneapolis

After 22 years in St. Anthony Main along the Mississippi riverfront in downtown Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) is relocating to Northeast. On April 1, MTN will be joining the other entrepreneurial businesses, artists and creative industries currently in the Thorp Building, which is also a hub during the annual art festival Art-A-Whirl.
“As a creative media organization with a long history of serving the various communities in Minneapolis, we’re excited to move to the Thorp Building in Northeast in the middle of a thriving arts district,” says Michael Fallon, MTN’s executive director. Northeast Minneapolis was named the best arts district in the U.S. by USA Today.
“There’s so much potential for us in this neighborhood as we’ll be right in the thick of things, serving the community in the way public access television is meant to serve,” Fallon adds.
MTN’s mission is to “empower diverse Minneapolis residents seeking to connect to the larger community through the media,” according to its website. “We provide low-expense training for anyone who wants to learn to use the media,” Fallon adds.
MTN is largely supported through the Public Access Education and Government Channels (PEG) fees attached to cable subscribers. Over the years, the organization has given artists, comedians, community activists and numerous groups a platform for their work.
MTN’s studios have launched such talents as Fancy Ray McCloney, Viva and Jerry Beck (of the show “Viva and Jerry’s Country Music Videos”), Rich Kronfeld (of “The Choo Choo Bob Show”), “Mary Hanson (of “The Mary Hanson Show,” which is “one of longest running public access talk shows in the country,” Fallon says) and Ian Rans (of “Drinking with Ian”). MTN also broadcasts city government meetings and has given the growing Somali community a place to produce public-affairs shows that reach other immigrants. 
The new space will include staff offices; equipment rental; two fully equipped, community-focused television studios (with cameras, lights and a green screen) and video editing suites; a Youtube set-up for fast and easy studio productions; and a multipurpose classroom and public gathering area.
“We already been reaching out to the Northeast community and potential collaborations and we’re working on a partnership with [the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association] NEMAA,” Fallon says. “ We expect to fit right in and to become an essential part of the Northeast’s creative mix.”

Pillsbury A Mill transformed into 21st-century hub for artists

More than a decade after Minneapolis’ historic Pillsbury A Mill closed, capping the city’s reign as the country’s flour-milling capital, the four-building mill complex—which includes the iconic limestone A Mill—is once again becoming a hub of innovation and industry, this time driven by artists. The developer Dominium, which recently transformed St. Paul’s 1890 Schmidt’s Brewery into Schmidt Artists Lofts, is completing the adaptive reuse of the milling complex with BKV Group into the A-Mill Artist Lofts.
The first phase, Warehouse 2, a four-story, wood-frame building next to The Soap Factory, has been open since December and includes 43 living units, says David Lepak, community manager, A-Mill Artist Lofts. The 1881 A Mill designed by architect Leroy Buffington, the south A Mill cleaning house, and the 1910 elevator known as the “red-clay-tile building,” will be open for occupancy in August.
“Dominium knows there’s a need for affordable artists’ housing, and we’ve been successful with other projects in St. Paul and St. Louis,” Lepak says. The complex, which will be LEED certified, includes 255 living units designed for qualifying artists. To support artists’ work, the complex includes galleries, a performance and rehearsal space, and studios for dancers, visual and multi-media artists, photographers and potters.
“The neighborhood is already highly populated with artists,” says Lepak, referring to the Marcy-Holmes and Northeast neighborhoods. The transformed A Mill complex will further “drive people to the area for creative resources, and bring untapped resources to an already existing artists community with theaters and galleries.”
BKV Group, a Minneapolis architectural firm, has been working with Dominium on the project. The design team started by conducting laser scans of the buildings, to determine where structures and floors didn’t line up, and where components were missing. In addition to shoring up exterior masonry, structural repairs included new steel support columns (particularly in the limestone A Mill), floor decking and joist repairs, and leveling the floors.

The project was made possible through historic tax credits, because the A Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places. As such, the renovation was closely scrutinized by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Park Service. In particular, the red-tile building—a former grain elevator—doesn’t have openings on the first eight floors, and none could be created. “It’s like a crawl space and we treated it that way,” explains John Stark, project architect, BKV Group.
The 27 new living units, instead, are on floors 8-12, and were designed around the existing openings, “which means each unit is unique,” Stark says. In the basement, the architects created a gathering space, fitness room and connections to the two-level parking garage. New outdoor landscaping around the railroad tracks is in the works.
The new complex will also have a roof garden with panoramic views of the Mississippi River and downtown Minneapolis, Stark says, and the landmark Pillsbury’s Best Flour sign is being redone in LED lights for greater energy efficiency.
Dominium is also considering the use of a hydroelectric heating and cooling system for the complex, using water from the nearby river. The water would enter through an existing tunnel, drop into a turbine pit and generate power to operate the complex. The initiative “would make the complex largely self-sustaining,” Stark says.
The project has significant merit regardless. “We’ve helped put the buildings back on the tax rolls, and created a new source of industry that tells the character of what Minneapolis was and is today,” Stark says. Lepak agrees, adding that the new A-Mill Artist Lofts “will add tremendously to the further development of an economically vibrant area of Minneapolis.”

Field guide explores Green Line's natural history

Hidden in the urban jungle of concrete and steel is a whole natural world waiting to be rediscovered and explored, says local artist and botanist Sarah Nassif. The new Green Line light-rail stations, she adds, are a great place to start.

Nassif’s new project, The Other Green Line, supported by Irrigate Arts, asks participants to start thinking of Green Line stations as not only jumping off points to previously unexplored businesses and restaurants, but also as trailheads leading to underappreciated natural beauty and history.

“The more you look, the more you see, and it happens really fast,” Nassif says of taking time to notice the natural world along the Central Corridor.

The Other Green Line is a field guide for amateur urban naturalists. Nassif organized the book into eight, themed nature “forays” along the Green Line.

One follows the path of a wayward black bear that took itself on a walk through the Frogtown neighborhood in 2012. Another explores the Kasota Wetlands near the Raymond Station, which are a remnant of a 1,000-acre backwater once fed by the free-flowing Mississippi.

The forays take participants through several different biomes—less identifiable today than they were 100 years ago. Lowertown was once dense forest, for instance. The area around the Victoria Station used to be prairie.

Tower Hill in Prospect Park is one of many glacial hills that once dotted the Minneapolis landscape before most were mined for gravel. Tower Hill still stands because neighbors bought the site and turned it into a park to keep it from being mined.

Tower Hill, Nassif says, “speaks volumes [about] how much the landscape changes because we’re here, and how people coming together and being aware together about nature can have a powerful effect on what’s here for future generations.”

In addition to the eight self-guided forays in the book, Nassif is leading a series of three tours. The first began at Bedlam Theater last Saturday and explored the white sandstone cliffs along the Mississippi River once used as natural refrigeration for kegs of beer, as well as pirate safe keeps and hideouts. Tour goers also noticed stones mined from area quarries and used in the Endicott Building at 141 E. 4th Street.

“It’s just interesting to stand there and realize you’re standing on what used be an ocean, that’s why the sandstone exists—it used to be the bottom of a sea,” Nassif says.

Also in the field guide are lists of area businesses for excursion supplies, and suggestions for where to cozy up to a beer and a meal when you’re finished. “There are tons of new places to explore both in the landscape and in the humanscape,” Nassif says.

Nassif’s field guide contains blank pages to draw and record what you find. You can also share your findings, sketches and stories on The Other Green Line website, where there is a list of area businesses carrying the book and information on upcoming guided tours.


Anti-wrecking ball event celebrates local preservation projects

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) is hosting its fourth annual (Anti)Wrecking Ball event on May 17 at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis.

The preservation-themed carnival is being held in conjunction with the start of Art-a-Whirl, the annual Northeast public art crawl, according to Erin Hanafin Berg, a spokesperson for the organization. “The free event will be a celebration of all things preservation in Minnesota,” PAM materials state.

This is the second time that the event has been connected to Art-a-Whirl, which was helpful in spreading the word last year, Berg says. Nearly 300 people attended the event last year, she adds.

On top of that, “We love the Soap Factory because it itself is a historic building, a preservation work in progress,” she says.

The annual party started out as a fun way for PAM to release its 10 Most Endangered list. But after a couple of years, the organization decided to go in a different direction. “Last year it turned into just an all-out party with some preservation-themed things for people to look at and engage with. We had such a good time last year that we’re sticking with that theme,” she says.  

Although the event is more about "friend-raising than fundraising," as Berg put it, it has a $10 suggested donation. “We’ll have a few ways for people to part with their money in support of our organization,” she says. Besides providing live music, food and drink, and a number of games, the nonprofit organization will announce its first Site Worth Saving, a program it’s starting to promote preservation, she says.
Source: Erin Hanafin Berg
Writer: Anna Pratt

Kuramoto Model (1000 Fireflies) bike-light project makes community connections visible

Close to midnight on June 9, up to 1,000 bicyclists will be outfitted with special LED lights that will create a synchronized spectacle across the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.

This experiment/public art display, which is part of the arts-geared Northern Spark Festival that will go all night in Minneapolis and St. Paul, is called, “The Kuramoto Model (1000 Fireflies).”  

The artist/techie behind it, David Rueter, an MFA candidate in art and technology studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, explains that whenever the lights blink, they broadcast a radio signal. As the lights "hear" each other, they begin to blink in synchronized patterns. By themselves, they look like regular LED cycling safety lights,  “but in groups, they exhibit an immediately noticeable and striking phenomenon,” a statement about the project reads. Reuter explains that the lights “can adjust or form a consensus” visually. “These lights are always listening.”

The project takes its name from Yoshiki Kuramoto, who pioneered research along these lines, Rueter says. He hopes that the bike ride/public art display will reveal the connections between individuals “and what amounts to a system of urban cycling, and connections that exist, whether or not they’re intentional.” He’s interested in seeing how that “transforms the way people perceive cycling,” and how it “changes the flow of cyclists.” For starters, it “alters the social rules of proximity. Different ways that people form in groups will be unveiled. It’ll change the way people approach interacting on bikes,” he says.

Well after the festival, people may continue to use them, and have chance encounters with each other.

It’s encouraging having the support of those who contributed to his $1,000 Kickstarter campaign, he says. “Everyone seems to latch onto the idea,” he adds. “Their imaginations run wild.”   

Source: David Reuter, Kuramoto Model Project
Writer: Anna Pratt

Guthrie audio tour highlights behind-the-scenes stories of the building

The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis recently updated its self-guided audio tour of the building, which allows people to learn more about the theater at their own pace.

It’s accessible via smartphone, iPod, or other listening device, and devices can be checked out from the theater, according to Guthrie spokesperson Quinton Skinner.

The 40-minute tour takes people through various levels of the building, starting with the main lobby. Users can get behind-the-scenes details about the structure's architecture and history, including its auditoriums, artwork, lobbies, cafes, and meeting spaces.

A highlight is the cantilevered “endless bridge” that reaches toward the Mississippi River.

From level nine, people get a chance to take in “one of the best views of the city,” Skinner says.

The tour goes on to describe the building’s shiny blue facade, which is decorated with images of  playwrights who have special ties to the theater, he explains.

One benefit of the tour is that it's self-guided, so that “if someone is really entranced by a view, they can pause and reflect.”

When starting out, listeners get to choose between six different narrators: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, WCCO-TV news anchor Angela Davis, performer and writer Kevin Kling, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Cities 97 radio personality Brian (B.T.) Turner, and actor Sally Wingert, according to Guthrie information.

The idea behind the tour is to “remind people that the Guthrie is...[a] community treasure that’s open to the public everyday,” even when shows aren’t happening, Skinner says.

He admits that “it was a lot of hard work, working on the script and recording it and editing it and making it user-friendly,” but he hopes that the result is something that appeals to both out-of-towners and locals who are curious about the theater.  

Source: Quinton Skinner
Writer: Anna Pratt

$174 million RiverFIRST proposal gets nod from Minneapolis park committee

RiverFIRST, a plan that would re-imagine a 5.5-mile stretch of the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis with new parks and trails, is entering into an early design phase.

The proposal, which will go before the full park board for approval in March, includes a riverfront trail system and a number of neighborhood-accessible parks that are being referred to as the Farview Park extension, Scherer Park District, North Side Wetlands Park, and Downtown Gateway Park, according to project spokesperson Janette Law.

(To see a description of each of these parks, go here.) 

The plan, which has a $174 million price tag, spaces out the projects over the next five years, with construction starting in 2013.

It also lays out a broader 20-year vision for the area along with a number of guiding principles, she says.

The planning committee is “asking for authorization of the completion of next steps,” which center mainly on the Scherer Park site and the 26th and 28th avenues North greenways, Law says. “The major news is that the park board is moving ahead on getting schematic designs."

RiverFIRST may also help lay the groundwork for the city’s Above the Falls master plan, which includes a "rich mix of land uses," including recreation along the Mississippi's east and west banks above St. Anthony Falls, according to park information.

RiverFIRST originated as the winning proposal from the design team Tom Leader Studio and Kennedy & Violich Architecture (TLS/KVA) as a part of the international Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition, which the park board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation jointly held in late 2010.   

The proposal stood out for the way it speaks to such contemporary challenges as dealing with water, the “green economy,” community health, and mobility, according to a prepared statement about the project.

After the contest wrapped up, the effort became known as the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative.

“It’s an exciting vision for the Upper Riverfront, with the potential to bring the same water amenities to North and Northeast that South currently enjoys,” says Law, adding, “that area is significant locally and nationally. It presents the prospect of creating the most new park land in the city since the parks were founded over 100 years ago.”   

Source: Janette Law, RiverFIRST spokesperson
Writer: Anna Pratt

RiverFIRST proposal moves toward construction project along Upper Mississippi riverfront

At its Sept. 21 meeting, the Minneapolis park board initiated a 45-day public comment period on the RiverFIRST proposal to revitalize some key parts of the Upper Mississippi riverfront.

It's the next step toward making the plan a reality.

The proposal lays out various design concepts and an implementation plan for “problem-solving” parks, walking trails and other amenities for the river area, mainly between North and Northeast Minneapolis, according to information from the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MRDI), which is leading the charge.

RiverFIRST is the product of a collaboration between MRDI project manager Mary deLaittre, the Tom Leader Studio in Berkeley, Calif., Kennedy & Violich Architecture (TLS/KVA) in Boston and New York financing consultants HR&A.

For months, the proposal has undergone an extensive editing and community engagement process, fleshing out an earlier version that won MRDI’s international design competition, according to project information.

In the proposal, five priority projects, all of which are doable over the next handful of years “exemplify ‘re-sourcing’ the river, while eliminating as many barriers as possible,” to help lay the foundation for future riverfront development, deLaittre says in a prepared statement.

For starters, a riverfront trail system that would go through Farview Park in North Minneapolis would join other existing city and regional parks and trails to form a “user-friendly network of commuter and recreational connections, most notably across the Interstate 94 trench cutting off Northsiders from the river,” a prepared statement reads.   

A number of floating BioHaven Islands on the river could help improve water quality while also providing habitat for plants and animals.   

The plan also calls for a new Scherer Park that would take advantage of park-owned property along the river in Northeast.

Separately, the Northside Wetlands Park “transforms significant acreage from the existing Port of Minneapolis.”  

Finally, an historic park that leads into the downtown area could be restored, according to MRDI information.

Going beyond the five-year projects, “The Draft RiverFIRST Proposal has the potential to create the largest expanse of new public and green space since the Minneapolis Parks system was first created over 100 years ago,” a prepared statement about the project reads.

Source: Information from the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative
Writer: Anna Pratt

$18 million affordable apartment complex in the works near Metrodome light rail stop

RS Eden, a local nonprofit developer, plans to convert a 1900-vintage building in Minneapolis's Downtown East neighborhood into an $18 million affordable apartment complex.

Attached to the existing four-story building will be a five-story building, where a parking lot now stands, according to RS Eden president Dan Cain.

Construction of the development, called Emanuel Housing, is to begin in February 2012.

The project takes its name from the late Scotty Emanuel, a former RS Eden employee. “He was a long-term, committed role model to young people coming out of poverty,” he says.

The 101 units will include mainly efficiencies, with six one-bedroom apartments. It’ll be affordable, with some market-rate apartments in the mix, Cain says.

A certain amount of space will be designated for military veterans and those who’ve had problems with chronic homelessness or chemical abuse.

However, the building will be open to anyone who is interested in sober living, Cain adds.  

Also in the building will be supportive services and community and retail space, while its previous owner, the Council on Crime and Justice, will stay put in the building.  

Part of the property could be turned into a green space.

The building is close to the light rail and the downtown area, which means convenient access to jobs.

More broadly, the development is a balance to the nearby high-end housing along the Mississippi riverfront. “Any community needs a mix of housing to be healthy,” Cain says.

It’s something that was lost in the 1960s and 70s when many buildings were torn down, he says. “This is an attempt to revitalize the whole Downtown East neighborhood."

Although RS Eden can’t do it single-handedly, he says, “We hope we can go a long way towards motivating that kind of change.”

In the future, the whole corridor between Washington Avenue and the Metrodome “will be much more pedestrian-friendly and vibrant than it is now.”

Source: Dan Cain, president, RS Eden
Writer: Anna Pratt

Dominium Development has an $80 million plan for the Pillsbury 'A' Mill

The Pillsbury 'A' Mill in Minneapolis, which once belonged to the world's largest flour-milling complex, represents a key part of the city's growth along the Mississippi River.

But in recent years, the mill, part of which dates to 1881, went through foreclosure after a redevelopment proposal from another developer fell through.

Afterward, it wound up on a list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places," created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

But Plymouth-based Dominium Development has an $80-million plan to reverse the trend. It plans to convert a handful of buildings on the campus into a 240-unit affordable artist live/work complex, according to Owen Metz, a senior development associate with the company.

Separately, Doran Cos. in Minneapolis is planning a 375-unit housing development for another portion of the Pillsbury site. Read The Line story here.

Although Dominium is still working out the details of the building and land agreements, this "is the first project of its scale, in terms of affordable artist live/work housing," he says. "We're trying to have different little nooks that cater to artists, with studios as well," he says.

Dominium has a similar project underway at Jacob Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul, which The Line covered here.  "We're trying to play off of what's already been done and what we've learned," says Metz.      

Although much of the design work is still in an early phase at Pillsbury, Metz says that the iconic grain elevators, which contribute to its historic significance, will stay intact--purely for aesthetic reasons. 

The group is talking with the neighborhood group, city officials, and other stakeholders to get input and leverage some of the work that's already been done on the site. "We're trying to streamline the process a little bit but also get feedback," which Metz says is especially important for such a landmark.

Some of the building's structural issues need to be addressed before too much gets hammered out. "Nothing's in stone yet," he says. "We're considering various uses for the space. We want to make sure it fronts well at Main Street."    

He hopes it'll bring a unique vitality to the area, while also building on the existing community in Northeast, he says. "We feel that financially, it's a good investment and that it'll be a success and be able to fill up quickly," he says.

In an area where many of the housing options are higher-end, "It gives people the opportunity to live that close to downtown, with those views, at an affordable level," he says.

Source: Owen Metz, Dominium Development
Writer: Anna Pratt

Wilde Roast Cafe puts finishing touches on $300,000 build-out in new riverfront space

After seven years on East Hennepin Avenue, Wilde Roast Caf�, a popular neighborhood hangout, is preparing to reopen this week in a new spot that's only blocks away, along the Mississippi riverfront.

Wilde Roast closed temporarily on May 26, though the $300,000 build-out in St. Anthony Main's Riverplace has been ongoing for a few months, according to cafe co-owner Tom DeGree.

The cafe was recently forced to change locations when the former landlord didn't renew its lease. But in the end, Wilde Roast lucked out, DeGree says.

With 6,300 square feet, its new digs, which previously housed Picosa, Sophia, and Yvette restaurants, is three times bigger than the old space, according to DeGree. It has a full kitchen and a 45-seat patio, he adds.

Part of the interior will be a dining room with wait service while another section will be more informal, with a counter to order from, akin to a coffee shop. Additionally, a rent-able meeting room can accommodate sizable events, he says.

Between the physical changes and the expanded menu, which includes a burger bar, homemade ice cream and gelato, and various tap beers, "It'll be the 2.0, upgraded version [of Wilde Roast]."   

The new home will continue the cafe's look and feel, but not replicate it, he says.

For example, some familiar fixtures such as the cozy fireplace and other furnishings are making the move. But a striking new touch will be a one-of-a-kind art piece featuring a picture of a peacock that graces four interior columns--a way to pay homage to the late writer Oscar Wilde, for whom the cafe is named. The writer had an affinity for the colorful birds, DeGree explains. 

DeGree hopes that the regulars who've been coming to the place for years will continue to do so. "It'll be interesting to see how people take on the change," he says, adding that despite anticipated growing pains, "We're excited about it."  

Source: Tom DeGree, co-owner of Wilde Roast Caf�
Writer: Anna Pratt

Doran planning 375-unit housing complex at Pillsbury A Mill

Bloomington-based Doran Cos. is planning a 375-unit apartment complex for a vacant parcel of land close to the Pillsbury A Mill in Minneapolis. The project, which is going by the name Mill & Main for now, will be split into two phases, according to Kelly Doran, a principal of the company.

Previously, another developer had unsuccessfully proposed condos for the site.

Doran says his company has a contract to purchase the property, which has gone through foreclosure stages. Separately, another developer, Dominium in Plymouth, is putting together a 200-unit apartment project on a different portion of the site, Finance and Commerce reports.  

Mill & Main will be market-rate apartments with plenty of amenities, he says. The complex will have a mix of two-story townhomes, studios and one- and two-bedroom units, with features such as fireplaces, stainless steel appliances, and granite counters.

There'll also be swimming pools and billiard rooms plus aerobics, Pilates and exercise rooms, and underground parking, he says.

To blend into the neighborhood, the building's fa�ade will have a mix of masonry, brick, and stone, along with large windows and balconies.  

Doran hopes the necessary city approvals will come through in time to start construction this fall. If all goes as planned the project's first phase, including 185 units, will be ready by the spring of 2013.  

Recent market studies show a demand for more apartments around the downtown core, according to Doran. "We anticipate a broad base of renters transitioning," which he says includes empty nesters who want to move to an urban area, those who want to rent before buying a home,  and people who are relocating for jobs, staying in the area temporarily, or working downtown.

The condo conversion wave of the past has also contributed to the demand for apartments, he says.

Doran says he couldn't disclose the project's cost.

Source: Kelly Doran, principal, Doran Cos.
Writer: Anna Pratt

Mississippi riverfront design competition winner sharpens focus on redevelopment plan

TLS/KVA, a design team that's based partly in Boston and Berkeley, Calif., has begun an information-gathering phase to bring its RiverFirst concept to fruition.

In February, the team won the Mississippi Riverfront Design Competition (MRDC) with the proposal, which involves "inter-related design initiatives focused on health, mobility, and green economy," and which, functioning on many different levels, aims to help raise awareness about how consumers impact the river system, according to a prepared statement about the proposal.

The competition asked for proposals that would reorient the area to the river, with a main idea being that parks can be a powerful engine for sustainable recreational, cultural, and economic development--something that is especially needed along the river, an area that historically has been underused, according to project materials.        

For its efforts, TLS/KVA has secured a commission, though the scope, location, and features are still up in the air, according to project information.

To figure out what specific aspects of its ambitious RiverFirst proposal will be doable, the team is researching other existing riverfront-related plans, while also getting feedback from various experts and community members and nailing down possible funding sources, according to project manager Mary deLaittre.  

On April 6, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved $267,000 in contracts for this phase of the project, which has a new heading: Mississippi Riverfront Design Initiative.

Ultimately over the next six months, TLS/KVA will work to define an implementation plan for both a long-term framework and a more immediate project--so this is a transitional phase into development, she explains. 

In late April, TLS/KVA had its first steering, advisory, and technical committee meetings with the park board. It'll continue to meet in the coming months, and then unveil a firmer plan to committee members in September, she says.

The committees, which will be open to the public, offer "critical connections and opportunities for community engagement," says deLaittre.

With a project of this scale, "it's important to collaborate across institutions and the public and private sector," she says, adding, "We want to avoid a piecemeal approach."

What sets apart this community engagement process from others, she says, is that "we're trying to substantively engage people and turn to them for what they're best at."

Source: Mary deLaittre, project manager for the Mississippi Riverfront Design Initiative 
Writer: Anna Pratt
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