Downtown Post Office

Downtown - North Loop - Mill District - Elliot Park - Loring Park
mattaudio
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Downtown Post Office

Postby mattaudio » January 7th, 2013, 4:40 pm

Just curious about this building. It looks like it saw a major expansion sometime after 1979 (although in art deco style) north towards the river where the old Great Northern station throat once was. Is the building still mostly used for post office operations? Is there any chance of that parking ramp along Hennepin coming down to make space for a riverfront connection or redevelopment?

I still wish we had tracks through here and a train station across Hennepin.

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby seanrichardryan » January 7th, 2013, 7:24 pm

HGA did the river-side addition in the early 90s. Its the main truck loading dock, which previously was open to the river. The ramp is from the 1970s. I think most if not all of the building is still in use.
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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby twincitizen » January 7th, 2013, 8:01 pm

That parking ramp portion has got to go...that is just terrible. Terrible anywhere downtown, but especially on that block. Were/are cities powerless to dictate the design of awful city-killing superblock federal gov't buildings? Or is it just another casualty of braindead city planners in the 1960s and 70s?

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby mullen » January 8th, 2013, 7:10 am

the entire post office riverfront is a missed opportunity. the ramp is awful yes. all those semi's arriving and departing right at that important corner. that vacant parcel below by the henn ave bridge still sits there as a weed garden. so the postal service owns that land? t's a shame this prime spot has to still be in this state after decades. and how the building interacts with the parkway is sad. just a walled off nothing. i had heard after 9/11 any thought of making use of those facade openings to aliven the streetscape was abandoned. not sure but it's too bad the parkway there is so dead and it shouldn't be.

the post office building itself is wonderful no arguments there. as usual the add-on's of the 60's/70's era mar an otherwise beauty.

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Nathan
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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby Nathan » January 8th, 2013, 9:11 am

According to the DT council's latest 15 year plan that ramp is nearing the end of it's life cycle. The city and council are VERY interested in opening up DT to the river and showing it off as a resource. There are a bunch of renderings of that being the culmination of the new Gateway Park/Green Ribbon from DT to the River. Only a matter of time. (especially as the residential population picks up in the hood, I would think.)

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Nathan
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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby Nathan » January 8th, 2013, 9:17 am

Here's a screen shot of the concept in their 2025 plan.
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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby Konante » January 8th, 2013, 9:47 am

Agree with Mullen that the land usage in this area is currently a big missed opportunity. But knocking down the parking ramp and putting in a park will create a deadzone. There isn't enough around there right now. Unless the park is preceded by new development, including creating street level activity along 1st street south, it will quickly become a place to avoided (especially at night).

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Nick
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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby Nick » January 8th, 2013, 10:05 am

Konante wrote:Agree with Mullen that the land usage in this area is currently a big missed opportunity. But knocking down the parking ramp and putting in a park will create a deadzone. There isn't enough around there right now. Unless the park is preceded by new development, including creating street level activity along 1st street south, it will quickly become a place to avoided (especially at night).
I generally agree with this argument about parks for parks' sake, but don't you think the proximity to the river would make this an amenity people would walk a couple blocks for? Dog walkers and parents with young kids from the North Loop, etc?

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby mattaudio » January 8th, 2013, 10:14 am

Just think if the Gateway district was mostly full of small-scale brick buildings which could be rehabilitated or redeveloped at a parcel level instead of a block level, and provided a good stock of housing and business space across a wide spectrum of rent.

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby Nathan » January 8th, 2013, 10:19 am

I don't see this as a dead space at all. This is the gateway to the river. There is no other good direct access to the river from DT until you get to... NOWHERE. Even at the Guthrie you have to walk down the road and follow a wandering road down to the Mill Ruins Park.

There are all of the Condo Buildings in the vicinity, 222, Velo, and any number of visitors who are now going to continue wandering down Hen or Nic to find the river. Bikers need better access... Plus the people who are going along the river may come up off the river now. Just too many eyes in that area now-a-days. (especially since it's probably 5-10 years off...)

Even driving North on Hen you don't know you're approaching a river until you're on the bridge. This has been needing to happen for a long time.

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby Konante » January 8th, 2013, 10:29 am

fotoapparatic wrote:I don't see this as a dead space at all.
Your points are valid, and as mentioned above the proximity to the river and the associated bike/walking paths will help. I still think, however, an urban park needs organic foot traffic and the potential for eyes on it at all times to be successful. I don't think there will be much along those lines at night and during large portions of the winter. I do hope I'm wrong though.

(Please nobody mention Central Park in NYC to "counter" my post. The sheer number of people, not to mention actual attractions inside the park visitors are required to walk to, make it irrelevant).

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby mattaudio » January 8th, 2013, 10:32 am

Also there's opportunity for redevelopment on the west side of Hennepin, north of 222. Even the parking ramp along 1st near Origami could get a few storefronts and a better facade. I don't see this as a reason to avoid building a stronger connection to the riverfront.

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Nathan
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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby Nathan » January 8th, 2013, 10:49 am

The 1st Ave towers will have 'eyes' on the park at all times, as well as the towers across the river will have good sight lines.

I totally understand that parks have some seedy people sometimes, but a city has the full breadth of types of people, that is just urban life, I think Minneapolis especially is a little super hyped on (and probably held back by) 'these people.' Crime is bad, obviously but Central park has plenty of homeless and undesirables hanging around, that doesn't make it any less of a resource for the very urban and dense neighborhood. As our DT population increases we'll need these green spaces. The river is Mpls' front yard. No one likes it when someone covers their lawn in pavement. ;) Any neighborhood association would assert that.

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby sushisimo » January 8th, 2013, 2:07 pm

Konante wrote: I still think, however, an urban park needs organic foot traffic and the potential for eyes on it at all times to be successful.
Agreed. And as small, trapped and infused by zilch as current Gateway Park is (right across 1st from this), the park isn't really that sketchy. It will be better with an obvious open space to the river. I think Gateway Park and this new 'post office' park will mutually benefit each other more than the sum of its parts. I don't envision much lingering in these linked park pieces, but it will invite a ton of foot and bike traffic because of what's physically built, and the visual/mental 'barriers' coming down. The latter was a little Oprah-esque, but whatevs. Take us to the river, Oprah!

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby mamundsen » January 8th, 2013, 2:30 pm

Here's what confuses me about this new park proposal... How do the mail trucks (mostly semi trailers) get out of the post office if this connection to Hennepin is severed?

nordeast homer
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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby nordeast homer » January 8th, 2013, 2:48 pm

I'm guessing they would like the post office gone. After all, it's Minneapolis, if they've done a study and it doesn't fit the mold, they want you out, nevermind the number of people you employ.

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby Nathan » January 8th, 2013, 2:54 pm

Eh... the post office will probably be condos by then ;P

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby fehler » January 8th, 2013, 3:18 pm

Isn't there a loading dock at 1st street and 2nd avenue? Something drives into the building here.

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby mamundsen » January 8th, 2013, 3:38 pm

fehler wrote:Isn't there a loading dock at 1st street and 2nd avenue? Something drives into the building here.
Could it be that the trucks take a one way trip through the post office? In at 1st St & 2nd Ave, out onto Hennepin.

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Re: Downtown Post Office

Postby MNdible » January 8th, 2013, 4:14 pm

I obviously don't need to tell everybody that the USPS is in dire financial straits. It's not going away completely any time soon, but it is going to shrink.

Also, I can't tell you the last time I actually stepped foot into a post office. It's been probably at least five years -- they're no longer the important retail function that they once were. They're much more a factory for moving letters and packages, and as such, a downtown location probably doesn't make a lot of sense.


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