Dinkytown Hotel - (1300 block of 4th Ave SE)

Northeast, Near North, Camden, Old St. Anthony, University and surrounding neighborhoods
Didier
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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Didier » January 21st, 2014, 10:41 pm

I'm generally ok with redeveloping Dinkytown, to be sure, and the hotel renderings look pretty cool. I just think a lot of the commentary on this site is disingenuous. There are some major and legitimate differences between the Doran proposal and the House of Hanson controversy.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby FISHMANPET » January 21st, 2014, 10:46 pm

I have to agree with the Strib commenter. To any particular former student, Dinkytown is going to be whatever it was when they were there. I've been at the U for over 8 years, and the Dinkytown of when I lived there Summer of 2006 is much different from what Dinkytown is. Maybe it's because I've been here so long, but to me what Dinkytown represents is a commercial district that serves the U. As time goes on the needs of U change, and Dinkytown changes with it, to stay relevant. I don't think we need to freeze Dinkytown in time to represent the way it served the U in the early 2010s.

Other than being old, there's nothing really spectacularly historical about DInkytown itself. It's a standard streetcar commercial district that served the needs of the surrounding community, and the best way to preserve Dinkytown is to let it continue to server the community.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Didier » January 21st, 2014, 10:48 pm

mattaudio wrote:It was before a board that analyzes structures for historical relevance, not categories of businesses.

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If this is in reference to me then the point of my post apparently went right over your head. I didn't take any position on tonight's vote. I'm only referring to the portrayal of the coming changes on this message board. There will be major changes, and not all parts of Dinkytown need to change. That isn't universally acknowledged here.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Pip » January 21st, 2014, 11:00 pm

twincitizen wrote:Because the bar is set so incredibly low, good comments on Star Tribune articles are just breathtaking:
Old doesn't always mean historical. The problem is that a lot of people, especially those who went to the U, associate Dinktytown with their youth. They perceive changes to Dinkytown as destroying part of their youth and the memories they might have from spending time in Dinkytown. I understand those feelings but you can't stop development because of it. I'm not a huge fan of change either but I really don't see a problem with this plan.
Ha. I wrote that comment. Sometimes I find the need to write a comment with a least a little regard to logic and grammar on the Strib.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby go4guy » January 22nd, 2014, 6:58 am

Here are properties I don't want to see touched in Dinkytown. The stretch from Annie's to Loring Pasta Bar, the corner of Gold Country to Blarney's including Vescio's, Al's Breakfast and the two story building next to it, and obviously the Varsity Theater. Keep those buildings, and you still maintain the character of Dinkytown. Incorporate new with those old buildings and it would be a great district with nice density. If this development goes thru, you can almost assume developement on that block is done.

Was there any controversy when 1301 went up?

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Snelbian » January 22nd, 2014, 8:11 am

Didier wrote:It honestly baffles me how people portray these changes as being inconsequential to the current vibe of Dinkytown. The entire nature of the neighborhood is going to change from tattoo parlors and dirty pizza joints to high rises and Target Expresses.
Either that's a false choice, or nobody told the Purple Onion they were supposed to go out of business.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby RailBaronYarr » January 22nd, 2014, 8:26 am

I think I may have said it before, but Dinkytown suffers from a lack of natural evolution over the past 50-60 years. We cherish the buildings go4guy listed above (though I'd disagree on the Vescio's building), at least mostly because of what's in it. I am a huge believer that a place, not just the uses inside them, can certainly affect perception (which is why we love strolling through Paris or wherever despite going into very few of its buildings). At the same time, I don't think 1-2 story structures are inherently 'unique' (as CPED staff stated, if Dinkytown is unique and important because of its architecture, then literally any streetcar node in our cities are), and for many alums the experiences inside/out are more remembered for the events that took place with friends (and could certainly happen anywhere - I know plenty of Wisconsin grads who enjoyed their time along much taller buildings). The buildings we love naturally evolved upward and more intense as streetcars began to serve them, more people chose to live close to the U, etc. Had the wave of suburbanization not hit, this process would certainly have continued (those benevolent builders of the structures would have sold or continued being capitalists and done it themselves). And we'd all still love Dinkytown just the same (heck, we love Dinkytown now despite it being 40% surface parking for many years).

I think the fact that the HPC voted 7-2 to deny demolition of a 59 year old (meaning some on this board are older than the structure itself), concrete block LifeCare building that was erected after streetcars were completely closed in this city is proof that they tend to swing as much on the 'preserve everything' side as many on this board perhaps swing 'any urban development is good development.'

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby go4guy » January 22nd, 2014, 8:41 am

I have a ton of memories from Sally's. From Monday wing night, Tuesday taco night, Burger night, to pre and post-game activities. There are a ton of memories there. But you know what, their new building will be bigger, and most likely have adequate bathrooms, which means I get to make even more memories there. Change isnt always a bad thing.

RailBarron, I will disagree with Vescio's. I think the building looks neat, and is old school. I have only eaten there a few times, and loved there pizza. I do know that many many legends have eaten there, and the owner's are VERY active with the U. But I also havent eaten there in 10 years. I prefer Annie's, China Express, and Burrito Loco (nothing, NOTHING beats a buffalo chicken burrito).

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby min-chi-cbus » January 22nd, 2014, 9:59 am

Didier wrote:It honestly baffles me how people portray these changes as being inconsequential to the current vibe of Dinkytown. The entire nature of the neighborhood is going to change from tattoo parlors and dirty pizza joints to high rises and Target Expresses.

This change doesn't necessarily mean it's for the worse. That's for everyone to determine for themselves. But let's be honest, the character of the neighborhood is changing, and in the case of the Doran development this stretch is not exactly a surface parking lot in dire need of redevelopment.
I am a believer in free market enterprise and do not usually like it when people try to control the market a certain way. There are always exceptions, especially in the case of ARCHITECTURAL significance, but if the "character" of the neighborhood is changing that's one of the lowest common demonimators I can think of to preserve buildings that are clearly not in the "highest and best use" of their respective spaces. That being said, I think character plays some role -- albeit a very small one -- in how neighborhoods are shaped for the future.

In short, by keeping the current status quo for Dinkytown -- a current hotbed for redevelopment according to the free market -- you are not allowing "the people" (i.e. the marketplace) to be the voice for what they want......just a few locals or idealists. Again, I don't think free market enterprise should always trump history and other significances (or we'd look like Houston), but it should be the precedent.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Viktor Vaughn » January 22nd, 2014, 10:52 am

Didier said it perfectly. Some on this board are being dismissive of legitimate concerns about this development. I supported the Opus development wholeheartedly, but this is not the same.

That doesn't mean I'm making an argument the development should be denied based on historic preservation grounds, nor have I even made up my mind about whether I support it.

It's just that this stretch of street is more unique than some are giving it credit for, and this development will forever change its character. Buildings like those to be torn down for this development aren’t being built anymore -- and little, quirky, low rent shopping streets like this block of 4th are actually quite rare.

Maybe the highest and best economic use isn't actually best?

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby mattaudio » January 22nd, 2014, 11:15 am

I agree, we need to value the character that the street already has. I'm just concerned that it's not what the HPC was actually doing. And many times we have people who say "I don't want more people competing with my on-street parking, so let's call this historic and block it" or the already-documented "I have memories of business A, B, and C on this block and I don't want it to change." Those are valid emotions, but we need to be careful about how they translate into development policy.

I'd rather see a focus on:
- Defining what is actually historic about these buildings so we can make more of a quantitative judgment about if they (or others in Dinkytown) are worthy of preservation.
- Identify what obstacles prevent building such space, as you defined it: little, quirky, low-rent shopping streets based on old buildings in the traditional development form. I wish we could still build like that. Let's ask why we can't.

That would be the best course of action at this point.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby woofner » January 22nd, 2014, 11:26 am

I would support a historic district in Dinkytown recognizing that it is a uniquely cohesive collection of early 20th century commercial structures (I count 15 of 28 commercial structures with build dates between 1900 & 1930; integrity varies of course), and that it's further unique as a commercial district as opposed to the streetcar node form that is more typical in the Twin Cities. Ideally any historic district would be coupled with an extension of commercial zoning to the west along 4th & University and possibly north along 13th, 14th, or 15th to recognize the real demand for dense mixed-use buildings.

But the HPC seems to have overstepped its authority here by refusing demo of any structure due to the possibility of a historic or conservation district here someday, even those (as RBY pointed out above) that are extremely unlikely to be contributing to such a district. I think it's entirely appropriate that the HPC reviews demo of any potentially historic structure and runs it through the relatively specific criteria for individual structures. But the criteria for contributing to a potential district is much more nebulous, as a district can potentially protect any number of characteristics. On top of that, just about any structure in the city could potentially be part of a historic district.

Looking forward to the minutes on this one, it sounds from the Strib article like all sorts of idiocy was spewed at the meeting.
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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby RailBaronYarr » January 22nd, 2014, 11:54 am

I think what will be tough to define is what exactly is the district promoting in terms of style/architecture? The area is cohesive in the sens that there are a good number of buildings directly fronting the street (as was the style pre ~1940), despite what was lost on the northern half of the 2 blocks north of 4th St (to parking, mainly). I'm probably repeating myself again here, but the architectural style of the buildings is a mix of: tudor (the stuff west of the Varsity and the building with The Refinery), brick (in all sorts of shades and cornice styles), concrete block (Library, LifeCare), flat stone facing (Varsity), to mixture of front surface materials (Loring has a full section of glass block wall, Vescio's and the Post Office have lots of painted wood, etc). Height ranges from 1 story to 3 (Dinkydale).

I guess my point is that if you told me this was a preservation district, I'm not sure what we're trying to protect other than the fact that it is such a varying and diverse streetscape (which is good). But pretty much any street-front materials/designs could match what's there, only height is the issue - which, to me, matters very little if the shops are frequent, dense, various, and differ in color or how they interact with the sidewalk. In that respect, I actually like this hotel proposal better than the Opus development which stretches the length of an entire block. As woofner points out (and I have previously) extending the commercial allowances west and north can give room for smaller/1-level spaces to serve the dirty pizza joints (assuming new dev will only have chains, a tough proposition to make given local precedence). I dunno. Good, nuanced conversation here, though.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby mattaudio » January 22nd, 2014, 12:06 pm

If anyone claims 60's painted wood (post office) or painted block (Library) are historic, I will shed a tear.

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woofner
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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby woofner » January 22nd, 2014, 12:13 pm

A historic district doesn't necessarily need to coalesce around a particular style; it can merely be a time frame. However I think most of the early 20th century commercial structures share typical (some might say banal) characteristics such as large first-floor display windows, regularly spaced sash fenestration if a 2nd floor exists, orientation to the street, typically brick exteriors, etc. An example of a local historic district with varying architectural styles is nearby 5th St SE:

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/hpc/landma ... _southeast

Again, if I were developing this historic district I would specify 1930 and earlier commercial structures. McDonalds can take a fat dump.
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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby RailBaronYarr » January 22nd, 2014, 12:34 pm

So, by that definition, wouldn't the hotel proposal, as much as we can tell from the renderings, be a big win? Brick (lots of brick), fronting the street (ie no parking although it has the ramp entrance), lots of glass facing the street with retail behind it, etc? The 2nd story windows look like they could use a bit more ornamentation, but I'll note there are plenty of plain-lookin' ones built between 1900-30 in the area (Vescio's, Gold Country, Espresso Royale buildings come to mind). The only issues I can see are street width and building height. At ~130' wide, this hotel would be one of the widest compared to the historic structures, though Loring Pasta Bar gets ~75' on both 4th and 14th, and Gold Country fronts 4th with 120' plus another 60' on 14th. While it doesn't set back as much as some may like, it does do so after the 2nd story and again for the 6th.

I dunno. The whole thing is super fuzzy to me, and why I'm so surprised the HPC seems to vote nearly unanimously on issues like this (as noted, when evaluated separately, they still voted 7-2 for the LifeCare building). It gets back to what we're trying to accomplish with a historic district in the first place. Outside it being one of many gathering sites in our city for counter-culture movements, Bob Dylan's short tenure, and revolts against chain establishments, there doesn't seem to be worthy reasons to protect it, other than some people really like that it's quirky, but only in in its current form. As mattaudio points out, the biggest reasons for protection seem to be to keep small businesses, not necessarily because the buildings themselves espouse. If CPED, HPC, and the Council want to encourage the type of small/local businesses and entrepreneurship that comes to mind when we think of Dinkytown, they should allow:

- New development to come in if it forms to the character (not necessarily height) of the area (things discussed above; basically a form-based code)
- Expand the area to allow lower-value commercial to start sprouting up on the fringes in similar form to what we cherish about the core
- Protect truly significant individual structures. I'm pro-development/density, but I've stated that at least 3-4 buildings are likely worthy of this designation.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Silophant » January 23rd, 2014, 9:50 am

According to the new 1/30 CoW agenda, this project is now called "The Graduate". Weird.

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Re: The Graduate - (1300 block of 4th Ave SE)

Postby seanrichardryan » January 23rd, 2014, 10:37 am

Didn't you notice the banner of a robed and capped person hanging on the tower in the renderings?
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Re: The Graduate - (1300 block of 4th Ave SE)

Postby mister.shoes » January 23rd, 2014, 10:39 am

Comparing the original renderings with the new ones, and I must say that I greatly prefer the new. The coloration is better, the tower with the ornamentation is a nice touch that gives a lot of personality, and the overall mass doesn't feel so awkward and hulking. I also very much like the low and high balconies. Could it be improved further? Yes. But it's already made a huge step forward, IMO.

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Re: The Graduate - (1300 block of 4th Ave SE)

Postby mister.shoes » January 23rd, 2014, 10:42 am

P.S. Nick will appreciate the utter lack of Magic-Paks in the new design.

P.P.S. The original was an apartment building, not a hotel, so that does explain the Magic-Paks. I still like the new design much better.
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