The Commons - Downtown East Park

Downtown - North Loop - Mill District - Elliot Park - Loring Park
Archiapolis
Foshay Tower
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Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 8:59 am

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby Archiapolis » May 7th, 2015, 10:55 am

Didier wrote:
twincitizen wrote:I disagree. I've always viewed that building as a feature, not a bug. It screens the park from the jail and from some road noise on that side, along with providing a commercial space that, in theory, will serve as park concessions. It adds eyes directly on the park for safety too (and vice versa, the park will be an enormous amenity for the residents). Ryan did pay the city for that 1/3 block, which in theory helps fund the park.
I have no beef (or pork) with blocking the view of the jail, but what I don't like is cutting off the sightline from the west side of the Commons. It's already a pretty dramatic view, and I think it'd make Downtown East feel more connected to the CBD if you could see the stadium while walking toward it on 4th and 5th streets. With the apartment you won't see the Commons or the stadium until you get to the armory.

I also think there are more effective ways to develop the west end of the Commons than a four-story apartment. For example, a much-needed amphitheater.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Chica ... 00!6m1!1e1

Careful, you'll get ripped for being an anti-capitalist rube who doesn't understand how development works (remember that Ryan did the city a favor and bought this terrible lot and is building a project out of the goodness of their hearts). Also, stop asking for better urban outcomes. Also also, this deal was negotiated months ago and it's over and be quiet and accept what you get and like it.

MNdible
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby MNdible » May 7th, 2015, 11:20 am

Not sure if this is really directed at me, but because you re-used the word 'rubes', I'll venture it was.

First, to be clear, I wasn't trying to rip you or anybody else -- just to make a rhetorical point that we've seen something like this before and it turned out pretty well in the end. I am all for making specific recommendations about how to improve this park, but frankly I haven't heard very many.

It's clear that many think that it's a full-stop tragedy that Portland isn't being cut off right now, but it's also clear that Ryan wanted that to happen and it's the public officials at Hennepin County are the ones standing in the way and the City hasn't stood up and made it a priority.

Some folks think that the apartment building is bad, but others disagree. I'd tend to say that having the eyes and active use directly on the park is probably a net positive.

So, what are the other specific things that are problematic, and who has the authority to fix them (since the development of the park is no longer in Ryan's hands)?

Didier
Capella Tower
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby Didier » May 7th, 2015, 11:43 am

Just to be sure, I don't think the apartment is a tragedy or a deal breaker. I'd just have preferred something else, or the apartment to be across the street.

TheUrbanGopher
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 194
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby TheUrbanGopher » May 7th, 2015, 11:51 am

The apartment currently has a retail spot designed at the SE corner of 4th and 5th Street. Talking with Frey, he is pushing to add another to 5th and 5th. Two retail slots at either end of the park would enhance it, especially if they were restaurants with patio seating. I like the apartment addition more than an extra 1/3 of park space personally.

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1748
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby amiller92 » May 7th, 2015, 11:55 am

Archiapolis wrote:
grant1simons2 wrote:Well that bridge is already looking like it may not happen, not for sure yet. The vikings are also looking at another place for tailgating currently, so hopefully that happens. You're right on the LRT so far, but that could change. I know people who are starting to push harder for the Portland Ave closure. And we have an international firm working on a park here. Damn we can be a pessimistic bunch.
I apologize for the negativity.

I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again and I actually hope to be wrong on this specifically.

Best of luck to the design teams involved but they are fighting a losing battle. Cheers to them for fighting a good fight.

However, there is just too much power/money involved to expect an outcome that is favorable to great urbanism.

What is sad (ironic?) is that I love nothing more than to present idealistic visions for what a place *could* be but "The Commons" has been the definition of a "bait and switch" that was aided and abetted by renderings designed to lie.

Cheers to Ryan and the Vikings for taking advantage of economic instability in the late 10's to push through with their proposals and creating an opportunity for themselves. Developers win.

Hopefully the breadcrumbs are fresh.
That's an awful lot of pessimism over stuff that's going to replace surface parking lots.

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
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Joined: October 31st, 2014, 12:50 pm

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby amiller92 » May 7th, 2015, 11:58 am

twincitizen wrote:I disagree. I've always viewed that building as a feature, not a bug. It screens the park from the jail and from some road noise on that side, along with providing a commercial space that, in theory, will serve as park concessions. It adds eyes directly on the park for safety too (and vice versa, the park will be an enormous amenity for the residents). Ryan did pay the city for that 1/3 block, which in theory helps fund the park.
All good points. Also, it provides more residents, who are natural constituents for the park and area retail.

I find it hard to complain about anyplace that's replacing parking with housing.

Archiapolis
Foshay Tower
Posts: 818
Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 8:59 am

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby Archiapolis » May 7th, 2015, 12:02 pm

MNdible wrote:Not sure if this is really directed at me, but because you re-used the word 'rubes', I'll venture it was.

First, to be clear, I wasn't trying to rip you or anybody else -- just to make a rhetorical point that we've seen something like this before and it turned out pretty well in the end. I am all for making specific recommendations about how to improve this park, but frankly I haven't heard very many.

It's clear that many think that it's a full-stop tragedy that Portland isn't being cut off right now, but it's also clear that Ryan wanted that to happen and it's the public officials at Hennepin County are the ones standing in the way and the City hasn't stood up and made it a priority.

Some folks think that the apartment building is bad, but others disagree. I'd tend to say that having the eyes and active use directly on the park is probably a net positive.

So, what are the other specific things that are problematic, and who has the authority to fix them (since the development of the park is no longer in Ryan's hands)?

The
renderings
created
a
falsehood
that
helped
a
developer
win
approval.

I can’t say it any clearer than that.

There is only one way to defend this approach (which I’ve already refuted) but here goes again…

The defense:
The renderings represent a beautiful vision of what *could* be and where it goes from there isn’t the developers problem. They are just showing what *could* be and if the final doesn’t match the rendering then they can’t be blamed.

Refutation:
Show all of the beautiful renderings that you want for hypothetical “visions of what could be.” As soon as you have a material interest in property that is directly adjacent, your beautiful yet very hypothetical “vision” d@mn well better be accurate/feasible/possible.

With one phone call Ryan could have ascertained the feasibility of closing Portland but information contrary to their “vision” would have been a major hit to the concept of “The Yard” and could have put the rest of their development in jeopardy.

Perhaps I’m unfairly disparaging the developer and should instead be disparaging the city. I don’t remember the timeline and what renderings were shown at what meetings and what questions were asked but I’m absolutely disgusted that the project (as master planned - park, Wells Fargo, apartment) was approved without an answer on the treatment of Portland, a framework for funding the park and a design for said park.

The approval absolutely should have been contingent on getting the outcome that was originally advertised and not this process.

If you think a process where a developer/the city can literally show anything, get approval, then when reality falls far short, avoid accountability is okay then I guess we have different ideas about city-building. If in fact you are suggesting that there is nothing wrong with this process, I would say that it is a very dangerous precedent.

Specific problems:
1-20. Not closing Portland / one small park and another smaller park rather than a continuous, unbroken space
21. A small apartment terminating the park instead of public space

However, as you pointed out, “the park is no longer in Ryan’s hands”, nor are they paying for it so they couldn’t care less. These two major problems (in my view) are already decided and therefore not on the table for change/alteration. It’s now a design problem to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

As I said, good luck to the design teams to do something decent here but it sure as hell won’t be what was originally advertised/approved.

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby amiller92 » May 7th, 2015, 12:03 pm

Didier wrote:With the apartment you won't see the Commons or the stadium until you get to the armory.
I think you're underestimating the scale of the stadium. It will definitely be visible well down 4th and 5th.

Archiapolis
Foshay Tower
Posts: 818
Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 8:59 am

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby Archiapolis » May 7th, 2015, 12:04 pm

amiller92 wrote:
Archiapolis wrote:
grant1simons2 wrote:Well that bridge is already looking like it may not happen, not for sure yet. The vikings are also looking at another place for tailgating currently, so hopefully that happens. You're right on the LRT so far, but that could change. I know people who are starting to push harder for the Portland Ave closure. And we have an international firm working on a park here. Damn we can be a pessimistic bunch.
I apologize for the negativity.

I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again and I actually hope to be wrong on this specifically.

Best of luck to the design teams involved but they are fighting a losing battle. Cheers to them for fighting a good fight.

However, there is just too much power/money involved to expect an outcome that is favorable to great urbanism.

What is sad (ironic?) is that I love nothing more than to present idealistic visions for what a place *could* be but "The Commons" has been the definition of a "bait and switch" that was aided and abetted by renderings designed to lie.

Cheers to Ryan and the Vikings for taking advantage of economic instability in the late 10's to push through with their proposals and creating an opportunity for themselves. Developers win.

Hopefully the breadcrumbs are fresh.
That's an awful lot of pessimism over stuff that's going to replace surface parking lots.
So, we are to set expectations at "anything better than a surface parking lot." That's one way to do it.

Archiapolis
Foshay Tower
Posts: 818
Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 8:59 am

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby Archiapolis » May 7th, 2015, 12:11 pm

amiller92 wrote:
Also, it provides more residents, who are natural constituents for the park and area retail.
I would normally agree 100% with this statement in another context and when compared to the VERY low threshold of surface parking, the statement is strong. However, as compared to a public use terminating what should have been a continuous park, I find a small apartment with some retail at the base to fall short. There will be plenty of activity/eyes on the street with the Wells Fargo towers and the other housing proposed for the area.

To put it another way:
If the stadium, park (as originally envisioned), and the WF towers had been built first and this parcel untouched, do you think people wouldn't be jumping at the opportunity to do something excellent here? Something that exceeds a small apartment with some retail?

grant1simons2
IDS Center
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby grant1simons2 » May 7th, 2015, 12:20 pm

I just wanted to post this here

Last edited by grant1simons2 on May 7th, 2015, 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

grant1simons2
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby grant1simons2 » May 7th, 2015, 12:22 pm

Ignore the last images, they used the wrong rendering Nick

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1748
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby amiller92 » May 7th, 2015, 12:23 pm

Archiapolis wrote:
amiller92 wrote:
Also, it provides more residents, who are natural constituents for the park and area retail.
I would normally agree 100% with this statement in another context and when compared to the VERY low threshold of surface parking, the statement is strong. However, as compared to a public use terminating what should have been a continuous park, I find a small apartment with some retail at the base to fall short. There will be plenty of activity/eyes on the street with the Wells Fargo towers and the other housing proposed for the area.

To put it another way:
If the stadium, park (as originally envisioned), and the WF towers had been built first and this parcel untouched, do you think people wouldn't be jumping at the opportunity to do something excellent here? Something that exceeds a small apartment with some retail?
Yeah, I just don't agree. I see housing as significantly more needed than an extra half a block of park.

Especially where there was already a lot of reason to worry whether this particular park was going to get enough use to make it viable. Without the apartment, this was a park surrounded on three sides by largely inactive uses (jail, parking, empty armory, juvenile jail, more parking and stadium).

Ultimately, I can't share you outrage over the original renderings as I never really saw them as the ideal, wanted that to be what happened (although I grant you the Portland question) or believed it would.

But on the topic of renderings, I'm not sure I noticed the apartment in this one at the time:
Image

I suppose it could have been left empty for future development, but (1) is an empty lot really a great neighbor for a park, and (2) wait and see has not been great for Downtown East over the last several decades.

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5796
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Location: Minneapolis

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby MNdible » May 7th, 2015, 12:41 pm

Archiapolis wrote: The
renderings
created
a
falsehood
that
helped
a
developer
win
approval...


Specific problems:
1-20. Not closing Portland / one small park and another smaller park rather than a continuous, unbroken space
21. A small apartment terminating the park instead of public space


Nobody in power was baited and switched on this. Nobody was bamboozled. Ryan wanted it closed. It became entirely clear well before any votes were taken that Hennepin County would fight the closure of Portland. Everybody on the City Council that voted for it understood the reality completely. Anybody who was paying attention to the media, even if the media (knowingly) continued to publish an outdated image, also was fully aware that Portland would not be closed.

I'd prefer that Portland were closed, but this is not a deal breaker. It does not ruin the park. Please, by all means continue to fight for the closure of Portland. But don't make it out to be some sort of tragic conspiracy.

xandrex
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1355
Joined: January 30th, 2013, 11:14 am

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby xandrex » May 7th, 2015, 1:22 pm

Archiapolis wrote:The
renderings
created
a
falsehood
that
helped
a
developer
win
approval.
If you think this wasn't going to pass had the picture the media shown included the park being severed by a road, you're not looking closely enough at who the vested interests are for the entire DTE redevelopment.

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
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Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby mattaudio » May 7th, 2015, 1:40 pm

xandrex wrote:
If you think this wasn't going to pass had the picture the media shown included the park being severed by a road, you're not looking closely enough at who the vested interests are for the entire DTE redevelopment.
True, which is why it's so strange that the public had to be, and continues to be, significantly misled about what they will be getting.

TheUrbanGopher
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 194
Joined: December 3rd, 2012, 7:03 pm

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby TheUrbanGopher » May 7th, 2015, 1:41 pm

The main reason the whole Wells Fargo development came to fruition was a combination of conveniently timed factors. Rybak wanted to leverage the required MSFA parking spaces as a lure for potential development on the Strib blocks. Meanwhile, WF was thinking about moving their main operations out of the center city due to existing office constraints, AND, the Strib began assessing potentially selling off their properties.

After the Vikings Stadium was pushed through the council, there was no way that the WF project would have flopped in approval phases. Like stated above, Ryan Cos really didn't need to show or pursue the park's development, and did it partially to enhance their WF buildings and partially to help out the area. The PPP mentality was strong in this project, but I guarantee this wouldn't have been shot down in approval stages.

Archiapolis
Foshay Tower
Posts: 818
Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 8:59 am

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby Archiapolis » May 7th, 2015, 1:46 pm

MNdible wrote:
Archiapolis wrote: The
renderings
created
a
falsehood
that
helped
a
developer
win
approval...


Specific problems:
1-20. Not closing Portland / one small park and another smaller park rather than a continuous, unbroken space
21. A small apartment terminating the park instead of public space


Nobody in power was baited and switched on this. Nobody was bamboozled. Ryan wanted it closed. It became entirely clear well before any votes were taken that Hennepin County would fight the closure of Portland. Everybody on the City Council that voted for it understood the reality completely. Anybody who was paying attention to the media, even if the media (knowingly) continued to publish an outdated image, also was fully aware that Portland would not be closed.

I'd prefer that Portland were closed, but this is not a deal breaker. It does not ruin the park. Please, by all means continue to fight for the closure of Portland. But don't make it out to be some sort of tragic conspiracy.
It appears that I'm in the minority in my opinion regarding the outcome here and as I said at the beginning, I'm one insignificant person.

If you monitored the timeline of events and it is as clear as you lay it out to be then nobody has a right to be frustrated. In your estimation everything was above board.

Having been in Planning Commission/CoW/Council meetings for projects that I've worked on and seeing projects get voted down because of trifling matters like a transformer being improperly located or any number of items of little import makes me very dubious about the approvals process in this case considering the wealth and power that was brought to bear during a time when the economy wasn't the healthiest. I never thought I'd be cast in the role of a tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist but I guess that is my role here. As for what to make of the "wrong" imagery being used by the media throughout the process/still, I risk moving further into the conspiracy theorist category if I continue to question it so I should probably assume that it is all above board as well.

As someone who works in the building industry I guess that I should be happy that detail and specificity can be overlooked/swept aside and "good enough" is the new threshold for gaining approvals. I'm sure this threshold will be applied to smaller/less significant projects. ("Future Public Park with uncertain funding here")

Having worked in this area for years and using the Mill District regularly, I had very high hopes for an ambitious park that would be a really amazing public space and I don't think we are going to get anything close to it but I've said enough to that effect and I'm *really* going to try and shut up now.

In keeping with idealist pipe dreams, here is a truly ambitious idea for this place in case anyone is interested (I am aware that this is "old"):

http://uli.org/wp-content/uploads/ULI-D ... duced2.pdf

TheUrbanGopher
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 194
Joined: December 3rd, 2012, 7:03 pm

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby TheUrbanGopher » May 7th, 2015, 1:48 pm

mattaudio wrote:
xandrex wrote:
If you think this wasn't going to pass had the picture the media shown included the park being severed by a road, you're not looking closely enough at who the vested interests are for the entire DTE redevelopment.
True, which is why it's so strange that the public had to be, and continues to be, significantly misled about what they will be getting.
The public isn't being misled anymore. The engagement meetings for the Commons have been some of the most productive and forward-thinking public events I've ever been to. We'll see what happens May 27th when the preliminary concept is revealed, but I think the city and Hargreaves have done the best they could have done with a really odd situation like this.

MNdible
is great.
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Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: The Commons - Downtown East Park

Postby MNdible » May 7th, 2015, 1:50 pm

mattaudio wrote:...it's so strange that the public had to be, and continues to be, significantly misled about what they will be getting.
Seriously, who's getting misled? And what exactly does KARE 11 have to gain by deliberately and flagrantly using an old rendering?


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