I emailed CM Quincy's office a few months back and got a great response:
I wrote:Councilmembers Quincy and Palmisano,
I was recently reading through the South Lyndale Corridor Master Plan and had some thoughts and questions. I work in a planning department in a neighboring city, so this is what I consider "fun light reading".
My question pertains to the proposed "turnback" of the Highway 121 stub, north of the crosstown. The discussion of this is found beginning on page 48 of this document: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/gro ... 121370.pdf
I am wondering if you have any updates on that process of getting MNDOT to turn that roadway over to the city or county. This looks like a great project, which will boost existing property values by removing a mini-freeway from the neighborhood, as well as put several blocks of valuable land back on the tax rolls and increase the city's population. Is there any progress on this situation, now that Crosstown reconstruction has been complete for several years?
I created a "fantasy map" of what I believe would be the highest outcome of eliminating Hwy. 121 and creating the most developable land possible. Obviously this isn't entirely realistic, but it is certainly a conversation starter. If we could get even half this amount of land back on the tax rolls, that would be an incredible benefit to the City and undeniable boost to neighborhoods in this area. The South Lyndale Corridor Plan identifies a reduction and calming of MN-121, but I believe we could go even further and eliminate the road entirely, replacing it with a more complete street grid and traditional neighborhood development.
Fantasy Map: http://goo.gl/maps/MnLeu
In summary, I'd like to know if there has been any progress on getting MNDOT to turn the road back to the city/county or if the city is even pursuing any changes at this time. I really believe this is one of the greatest redevelopment opportunities in the entire city and now is the time to get the ball rolling.
John E. Dybvig wrote:Thank you for your e-mail. Council Member Quincy has asked me to reply back to you on his behalf. I have been working with Council Member Palmisano on this project since she has taken office and we are on the same page when it comes to this project.
Back prior to the small area planning process, the City talked with MnDOT and Hennepin County to determine who owned what property in the area. At that time it was determined that MnDOT had purchased the land under what is currently Hwy 121 from the Crosstown up to 58th St. and that Hennepin County owned the land from 58th to 56th St. And that this was all ownership rather than easement of the property. We also looked at the possibility of eliminating Hwy 121 entirely as part of the 35W/Crosstown project because of the additional access from Lyndale Ave. But because you can’t get from Lyndale Ave to 35W S., MnDOT determined that they needed to maintain some sort of roadway to serve the Lyndale to 35W South traffic. But they were in agreement that the current roadway is overbuilt and could be a single lane each way.
The plan is based on those two suppositions, governmental ownership of the land and a smaller roadway would suffice. As you can see, the plan calls for two lanes of traffic, on the eastern side of the current Hwy 121 property, which then would T-intersect at 58th St., with Lyndale Ave being reopened to two way traffic between 56th and 58th. That would create a small strip of land on the western side of Hwy 121 to be developed as additional housing, likely townhomes, and a much larger parcel in the area between 56th & 58th that would be sold via RFP for a mixed use development and potentially a small green space.
A member of the Bachman family participated in the entire process and provided very helpful feedback. But after the plan was already adopted, the Bachman company contacted the City and stated that they believe that Hwy 121 as it runs behind their property is an easement, so if the City chooses to vacate any of that easement, the property should be returned to the adjacent property owners from whom the easement was obtained. If that is true, that is obviously a bit of a fly in the ointment. So we have changed plans a bit. All along, the big gain from this project is converting Lyndale to two way traffic all the way through and the large opportunity development parcel between 56th and 58th that would be gained by closing that off. So the latest we have been working on is a modified plan that would keep Hwy 121 a four lane divided highway from the Crosstown to 58th, but at that point it would T-intersect at 58th St.. Lyndale would be converted to two way traffic between 56th and 58th and the large development opportunity could still be realized.
The next hurdle is paying for it. Our Public Works Department has determined that, besides not owning most of those streets, the streets are also not in bad enough condition that they are in the queue to be reconstructed anytime in the near future. But it may still make sense from an economic development standpoint. So I have asked Community Planning and Economic Development to look at whether they would recoup enough revenue from the sale of the development opportunity parcel to pay for the infrastructure changes. Or if that is not sufficient, if a TIF district might be in order. Right now we are waiting for CPED to weigh in.
Let me know if you have any other questions.
John E. Dybvig
Aide to Council Member
John Quincy- Ward 11