In three US cities, three longtime mayors prepare exits. What legacies?

Call them the hipster, the billionaire, and the boss.

Three mayors of three cities, each having served at least three terms, are now preparing to exit the municipal stage after more than a decade shaping major metropolitan hubs – and perhaps the American urban landscape, too.

There’s R.T. Rybak in Minneapolis, the mayor known for crowd-surfing at an alt-rock venue made famous by Prince, and leading 30,000 zombies on a city-sanctioned pub crawl – and hosting its contest to see who could eat the most brains (pork brains in tacos, that is).

There’s Michael Bloomberg in New York, the media mogul and world’s 13th-richest man, the mayor of the nation’s financial central server, ticking off the secrets of his success with a simple Wall Street mantra: Arrive early, leave late, eat lunch at your desk.

Then there’s Thomas Menino in Boston, the five-term septuagenarian mayor cut from a sepia-toned era of backroom power brokers, a politician who has shaken so many hands, attended so many ribbon-cuttings, and sat with so many parents at Little League games that today almost half of Boston’s residents say they have met him personally.

Come Nov. 5, voters will elect successors to the men who have practically become the public faces of their respective cities. It will mark the first time this century that three mayors who’ve served at least 12 years in major cities will leave office at the same time.

Read the rest of the article at Christian Science Monitor.

Twin Cities parks 3.0: Bold new initiatives coming to our green spaces

As they begin repairing and rejuvenating shoreline along the Twin Cities’ curving Mississippi River “spine,” Minneapolis and St. Paul park and rec departments also have their hands in some diverse projects that expand conventional ideas about recreation, ecology and economic development.

From re-creating islands and enhancing riverside parks to proposing a bridge connecting Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun, and preparing to build a new St. Paul Saints ballpark and purchase an 11-acre urban farm, there’s a lot going on with both cities’ parks.

With their respective plans, which together cover 22 miles of the Mississippi corridor running through Minneapolis and St. Paul, both cities are balancing needs for ecology, access and development. And together they are seeking federal funding for the projects. While these extensive projects will be ongoing, over the next several years park lovers will find new and enhanced parks and green spaces, new trail connections, and more natural shoreline.

Read more at MinnPost

First look at Mortenson’s planned 30-story apartment tower

Mortenson Development has shared the first image of a 30-story luxury apartment tower in downtown Minneapolis that it announced last month.

The design, by Minneapolis-based Urbanworks Architecture, shows a seven-story pedestal that incorporates an indoor parking garage. The remainder of the building is glass, with what looks like a white external skeleton. There appears to be a patio on part of the parking garage roof and also a deck near the penthouse.

To get an idea of new tower’s size, the Foshay Tower, home to W Minneapolis-The Foshay hotel, is 32 stories and also takes up about a quarter of a downtown block.

via Minneapolis - St. Paul Business Journal

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Residents Most Likely to Feel Safe

Eighty percent of those living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area say they feel safe walking alone at night in the area where they live, the highest percentage among the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Minneapolis is followed closely by Denver, Raleigh, Boston, Salt Lake City, and Austin.

Minneapolis-St. Paul area residents have the highest sense of personal security among Americans living in the nation’s top metro areas, at least in terms of feeling safe walking alone at night in their local area. While the rank order of the top 50 on this measure may differ somewhat from other rankings of city safety, it nevertheless offers an important perspective on one aspect of how crime affects people’s lives.

Article via Gallup, photo via Thirteen of Clubs.

Nice job Kaas Wilson Architects! The City Council zoning & planning committee approved today two new apartment buildings with 151 units next to the Grain Belt Brewery complex, a national historic landmark. The project involves restoration of the Grain Belt office building including restoring original windows, cleaning the brick and stone and energy efficient mechanical upgrades.

via Facebook page of Minneapolis City Council member and Mayoral candidate Gary Schiff

Downtown Minneapolis’ Hennepin Avenue to get a makeover

Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis is home to pretty, bustling theaters — and unsightly parking lots and empty storefronts.

If a coalition of arts groups has its way, the entire 2 miles between the Walker Art Center and the Mississippi River will become a pedestrian-friendly cultural destination.Their plan, to be funded by a combination of public, nonprofit and business-community sources, emphasizes building on the avenue’s existing strengths.

Details were released Thursday, and the Minneapolis City Council is expected to approve the plan Friday. It includes making the avenue, as well as some parallel and intersecting streets, more appealing to young families and tourists. A new visitors’ hub would let pedestrians buy theater rush tickets, get directions or simply warm up. Other amenities would be more trees and grass, direct street-to-skyway connections, courtyards and flexible event spaces, small street-level shops and restaurants, and mixed-use residential and work lofts. The plan also identifies several spots in need of the most improvement, such as the neglected Gateway area near the river, space-wasting surface lots and the Interstate 94 overpass.

via StarTribune

10 Best Cities for Urban Forests


Named the “Fittest City in America” by the American Fitness Index and one of the “World’s Cleanest Cities” by MSN, Minneapolis can now add the credential of having one of the top urban forests. The City of Lakes is home to an abundance of varied parkland — a park every six blocks — including those designed for off-road cycling and those for hiking, canoeing and swimming.

Minneapolis’ tree canopy of 31 percent is only 6.5 percent shy of its potential canopy of 37.5 percent based on geographic information system (GIS) analysis and modeling. Minneapolis was actually one of the first cities to use the U.S. Forest Service’s iTree assessment tool to determine the benefits of its urban forest. Today, it’s estimated that the city’s urban forest has a structural value of $756 million and also reduces energy use by $216,000 per year. This reduction in energy usage reduces carbon emissions at an estimated value of $16,000.

Article via American photo by zuluadams

An unfinished project on the North Side

Twenty years after Legal Aid filed a landmark lawsuit to reshape four aging North Side housing projects, the landscape has changed substantially. But a significant portion of the promised redevelopment remains unfulfilled, and there’s no timetable for completing it. Nor has anyone studied how the low-income people who were supposed to benefit made out once they were resettled.

via StarTribune, click pic for story.

A tornado’s scar in Minneapolis

The blog, Geo-Located Minneapolis, says Google Earth has released new imagery from above and it clearly shows the path of last year’s tornado through north Minneapolis.

via Minnesota Public Radio

Minneapolis & the Mississippi River by Midwest Cargo Cult