Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

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FISHMANPET
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Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby FISHMANPET » August 29th, 2013, 10:27 am

I think this deserves it's own thread, dedicated to our efforts to change the conversation of this movement, and also so I stop crapping on development threads with my complaints about this movement.

For reference, here's the Facebook group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/286949408093806/
It looks like it's an Open Group, so anyone can join, whereas before it was closed and required approval (though I was approved).

I don't know if this movement has a leader anymore, as Matt seems to be too tired to lead and has stepped down. But the most vocal people are basically off their rocker and are working as hard as they can to make the movement irrelevant.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby talindsay » August 29th, 2013, 2:34 pm

I suggest you let them die an irrelevant death and start a separate effort to discuss legitimate concerns surrounding the redevelopment of Dinkytown: the core need is for those who value the current neighborhood and its history to *ENGAGE* with the developers to make the proposals better and to guide development to areas with less historical value, but the "Dinkytown not Megatown" people aren't behaving rationally. You won't be able to convince them that *any* amount of discussion is appropriate because they are unwilling at this moment to accept that any level of development is okay - which means they're the fringe that you won't be able to fruitfully engage. Save your efforts and talk to the much more sane and rational players.

I suggest you start instead with the community group, which *did* vote in favor of the Opus project. Clearly they're amenable to the right kind of development, and they also care deeply about Dinkytown since they live there. That would be a useful place to start discussions about what enhances and what detracts from the neighborhood. They may not understand the nuances of setbacks and façades but they will come with an honest desire to be useful, which "Save Dinkytown" does not.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 29th, 2013, 10:49 pm

You're probably right. It sucks to be called a troll just for having a differing opinion than them and wanting to have a rational, fact-based discussion (not argument) that may lead to compromises on both parts. Oh well.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby Silophant » August 30th, 2013, 6:36 am

Another problem with the Dinkytown not Megatown group is that the very name poisons the well with a "all large buildings are bad" sentiment, so any argument for smart development is basically starting in enemy territory.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby FISHMANPET » August 30th, 2013, 9:49 am

Just posted the news about the moratorium to the group, only to learn that all posts require admin approval. So good luck ever getting a message to this group, when everything runs through a filter of people that don't agree with you.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby FISHMANPET » August 30th, 2013, 1:08 pm

Also it looks like everybody is too busy trying to play the victim of big bad developers and the big bad city council. They're pretty much convinced that they have no power and are being forced to watch Dinkytown crumble around them. So I'm going to agree with talinsday, and just give up on this little mission of mine. It's clear there are some people there that truly care about Dinkytown, and have some legitimate thoughts and concerns, but their only solution is to stop everything in its tracks.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 30th, 2013, 2:37 pm

I think the three things that I can't understand are:

1) The idea that anything that was built (typically it's before 1950) must remain in amber.

2) The intentions of the people who built those structures were pure as snow whereas today's developers are motivated by greed. Not just turning a profit so they and their employees can earn a living, but some maniacal, evil greed.

3) That just because a building exists and is old that it is 'unique.'

I am definitely pro-preservation when the replacement represents a clear loss in the public realm. Parking lots, towers with identical net residential density and vast unusable plazas/grassy space surrounding them, etc. I'm definitely pro-preservation when the architectural style of a building or some historic event occurred in or very nearby. But for some reason people who are already living in a relatively urban area fail to see the moral good of providing more of it (keeping aggregate prices down, the vast environmental positives that can result from a self-perpetuating cycle of good urban design/development, etc). The mantra of density = evil is wearing thin on me as well. Beyond the subsidies and market distortions resulting from land-use regs, if people want to live in medium or lower density ways, FINE. But I cannot understand why people continue to perpetuate the evils of renters, small housing units, apartments, and "high rises" reaching 70' to the sky.

Further, people in the group can't imagine a Dinkytown without Mesa Pizza. Does anyone remember the poor small business they displaced when they expanded in to the commercial space next door? Are they any more or less greedy than Doran? What about whoever built the structure and replaced whatever shanty structure or house that existed at the time (perhaps there was even a lowly immigrant small business operating there that was displaced)? The entire notion of our streetcar nodes existing in the first place was a complete land-grab, development tool using transportation to justify it. I'm not saying this is wrong or right, just that it is what it is. so if something happens like this moving forward, let's do it in a responsible way that balances the needs of the city's starving tax base (schools, parks, streets), current and potential residents, and business.

Lastly, I love Dinkytown. I love Minneapolis. I love so many things in our cities, and while most of them are things you can go just about anywhere and find, there are a few that are unique. But having traveled the country and world, I can say with near certainty that most structures in Dinkytown are not unique. The Varsity, for example, is one of many theater marquees found throughout the country, many of them in commercial areas abutting college campuses (Berkely, Ann Arbor, Iowa City, Madison, and Columbus OH all have ones I have personally seen). With that said, I do think there are a few things important to the identity of an era or that define the shared culture of America and are worth keeping. The Varsity Theater, Loring Pasta Bar, and perhaps a select few other buildings around the U are good examples, but hardly all of them.

What's frustrating is that people in this country seem to be more and more polarized (on basically everything), and there is no compromise or ability to see opposing viewpoints as valid and worthy of discussion. I hope there's a group out there who is interested in a productive discussion.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby Nick » August 30th, 2013, 3:35 pm

As I alluded to in the Doran Dinkytown Development thread, for a bit now I've been thinking of stopping by the Book House and trying to talk to Hawbaker...now that the moratorium didn't pass, that seems like a good idea. I wonder how feasible it would be to try and set up some sort of historic district in Dinkytown? It would involve some compromise from SD, I'm sure (US Bank building--probably not historic) but it's certainly a better use of their time than what they have been doing. It seems unlikely that the Varsity Theater or Annie's Parlour are going to be torn down anytime soon, but for all their bluster, SD's argument about the stereotypical suburban students moving into these buildings are basically the same kind of things most of us would say, if it was in a different context. Who's to say that business conditions won't change in ten years and Dinkydale ends up empty, goes under, and then gets torn down?

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby FISHMANPET » August 30th, 2013, 4:11 pm

I don't think Dinkytown can be place for destination retail anymore, or at least not the kind that you drive to. I think first and foremost Dinkytown has to serve the residents that live in it, and the University community that can walk/bike to it, which is why it's important to cram as much residential in and around Dinkytown, because we want people here and we want them close.

I mean, I get that people are going to want to come to Al's from near and far. And parking is sometimes hard (but not really at breakfast time, but whatever, let's assume it is). And now we want to make it even harder to park, by sticking more residents in? I'm Ok with that. Ok, well maybe those people that want to drive to Al's are just screwed, but Al's is doing just fine with the thousands of residents living in the area and the tens of thousands of people that pass through this area every day. If you really want to come to Al's, jump on your bike, take a bus, park a ways away and walk in, take a cab, parachute in, whatever. Just don't expect a warm welcome to your two tons of internal combustion engine and metal frame.

People have fond memories of Dinkytown, and they want to drive there to relive them. Also they don't like losing parking, they don't like that parking is making housing so expensive, and they don't like that traffic is so bad.

50-75 years ago, Dinkytown had lots of little retail shops that served the local residents. Then they slowly left and you got restaurants serving students and a lot of quirkly little businesses that have regional draw. The local serving businesses closed because people could easily drive to the suburbs to do their shopping. But I think we'll be seeing a shift back to the other side of the pendulum. A grocery store is a great start, and we've already got a cell phone store (though carrier specific). I'd bet a radio shack type business selling small electronics could do fairly well in the near term. And maybe somebody like the Bookhouse will be forced somewhere in a different part of the city, and in the end I'm really OK with that. Most of their business is online anyway. If there was actual demand for a little bookstore like that in Dinkytown they could afford a higher rent, but they can't. It's not a matter of local vs chain business, it's a matter of degrees of success. I'd bet the space Annie's, Kitty Kat Klub, Loring Pasta Bar, and Varsity Theater (to name a few) are in aren't cheap. That's not because they're chains they can afford that, it's because they're really successful businesses.

I'll go back to what I've said before though, Dinkytown is always changing. The Dinkytown of 10 years ago looked nothing like the Dinkytown of 30 years ago looked nothing like the DInkytown of 60 years ago. Why are we so arrogant to decide that now is the time to freeze Dinkytown, that Dinkytown has now achieved peak culture and can only go downhill from here? Why didn't we freeze it before Dayton's closed in the late 40's? Or when the liquor laws changed allowing all the bars in Dinkytown? Or before Grey's drugs was converted into Loring Pasta Bar? Looking back now we can see that those wouldn't be very good ideas, but they might have made some sense at the time. So why do we assume that this time is different?

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby Nick » August 30th, 2013, 7:10 pm

Sidebar: I see that a "mhwbkr" just registered for the forum...I'm going to be pretty busy this weekend--heading to the airport in a minute--so let's all remember to be polite/civil/etc.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby mhwbkr » August 30th, 2013, 7:33 pm

Matt Hawbaker here. Since so many of you made the trek to our discussion group, I thought I'd return the favor. I'm not here to troll or as part of an effort keep Save Dinkytown relevant. The comment above that I've "stepped down as leader" is true... I guess? At least in as much as I didn't really develop a taste for organizing despite the amount of time I put into the campaign against rezoning Dinkytown, and I don't really consider myself a leader of SD to begin with--I just happened to sitting in the middle of situation due to my job and had some strong opinions on it that I was willing to share publicly. Our group was always pretty loose in structure and several people played different roles at different times. If you ask Council Members who they were having the most conversations with, there are at least 2 or 3 names that would come up before mine.

Any way, I just want to say that I now have an account on here and am willing to talk with folks. Obviously, I am very frustrated by the council's decision today, but its kind of exciting to be able to talk about my observations on this situation without any real stakes (i.e. hurting our movement, etc). I think this is not the last time a situation like this will come up in the near future and its important (to me at least) that people who care about this stuff have a more nuanced conversation than what I've witnessed so far.

If anyone has any questions for me, go ahead. If you want to let this post be, as they say, a loser's fart in the wind, so be it. I'll check back periodically either way.

(btw, I can't recall not approving any posts or blocking anyone from the Facebook group, especially in the time since the Opus project was approved)
Last edited by mhwbkr on August 30th, 2013, 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby mulad » August 30th, 2013, 8:00 pm

[Welcome, Matt. I was writing this before you arrived. So, on to the awkward transition...]

Yeah, Dinkytown's constant is change. Honestly, I've always felt that allowing areas near campus to become more dense would probably stabilize the ability of businesses to survive, since more students, faculty, and staff would be in the area year-round rather than going back to the parents' place or the distant house/apartment during the summer lull. There will always be an up-and-down cycle, but more housing in the area can at least raise the baseline.

But anyway, talking about these Dinkytown groups in general, I think it's important to be careful about how people go about engaging them. Unfortunately, people don't respond rationally to being told that that they're wrong about something, no matter whether there's a massive pile of data to back it up or not -- and it can have a negative effect, making people become more entrenched in their preexisting beliefs.

I've forgotten which radio show I heard it on, but I often think back to a study I heard about where researchers found the only way to counteract this effect was to give the participants some compliments first and make them feel good about themselves -- then they became much more open about accepting new points of view. I'm not sure if that's really the only silver bullet, but in the least, I think it's good to get some conversation going beforehand, listen to what the folks on the other side of the argument have to say. After you find some points of agreement and prove to each other that you're good, decent human beings, then it's okay to work on disassembling whatever structure they have in their mind that's supporting this false belief.

So when you have a point to make, it doesn't make much sense to hammer away at it when people are feeling defensive. Pull back a bit, give some room to breathe, and see if there's some common ground to work from.

I think it's also important to understand that we often don't know the absolute truth about things. Just look at science, where our understanding of the way the world works is an evolving process, and we understand things better over time as our ability to observe phenomena becomes more advanced. And of course, humans don't have strict rules to follow like particles being modeled in mathematical equations. We each react to the world differently. There is a lot of commonality, but people also do things you'd never expect.

I do think that pointing out the results of our grand suburban experiments is really important, especially when rules created for suburbia were applied to the city where they didn't belong. The spaces that were described as "slums" in the early part of the 20th century were often much more healthy and stable than observers of the time thought they were. Some problems would have self-corrected over time if neighborhoods had been more or less left alone. The earliest desires for zoning to get people away from the harmful pollutants of smoke-belching, chemical-dumping factories were probably good, but then the whole "if a little is good, then a lot will be great!" desire kicked in, and things kind of spiraled out of control.

The car happened too, of course. I remember going to one of Frank Lloyd Wright's projects as a kid and seeing a model of Broadacre City -- Imagine if you will, everyone with a house on a large lot, with a mile-by-mile grid of highways. People will drive everywhere! It'll be great!

Yeah, I looked at that and pretty much thought that the vision had been broadly achieved, and the cracks in the plan had long been apparent by that time. The specific form of Wright's vision hasn't quite happened, but even only getting partway there we've seen the fatal flaw -- it turns out that people kind of hate driving everywhere. Also, while it's nice for a while to have a big plot of land to yourself, people generally do like having neighbors they can actually see and interact with.

Anyway, it's a good idea to pull back occasionally and put the plans for a denser Dinkytown in the context of our history with urban planning. For an era that basically lasted 70 years and still continues in fits and spurts, there was a concept that we needed to put more space in between ourselves in order to let the air and light in. Ironically, a lot of that empty green space would get filled in with parking lots populated by smoke-belching automobiles, making the initial problems worse (they don't belch much anymore, but still crash into each other and run over people -- or at least scare the crap out of them, etc. etc.)

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby Anondson » August 30th, 2013, 8:13 pm

It is worth pointing out that the more of the old buildings that are torn down too fast, you are left with fewer and fewer of the buildings where the eclectic odd businesses can afford to be. More and more the new construction is built to a standard that only national chains seem to be able to afford to rent space in. Lively neighborhood have a good mix of this. I think that mix is what folks see in Dinktown's character they see being threatened by the losses and new buildings replacing them . . . in at least one part.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby mhwbkr » August 30th, 2013, 8:28 pm

Whoa Nick's got a good eye.

Reading through this thread a little more closely reminds me of one regret I have about this campaign. I wish we had started earlier emphasizing the importance of doing a small-area plan for Dinkytown. This was the crux of the issue for me, especially after attending the kick-off meeting in March. It seems to me (and, apparently, someone at the City Planning office, since they supplied a Planner and funding) that allowing residents and business owners, i.e. the people who have been investing in the neighborhood before it was on Opus' radar, the opportunity to have a voice and set guidelines before big decisions like rezoning are made is the right way to go. Maybe stating it that way more forcefully from the beginning wouldn't have led to so many getting the impression that we want Dinkytown to stay "encased in amber". We felt that this was the wrong project at the wrong time, that precedents shouldn't be set at a time when the current stakeholders were trying to figure out a plan for change. I certainly made this my main message around the time of the Z&P and City Council decisions, but you can't control what quotes reporters decide to use, and I wish I had been more forceful about it earlier.

I realize you can pluck quotes from the FB group to show that some individuals want nothing to change from how it is now, but this was never one of my goals for my involvement with Save Dinkytown. And although I do think its an overreach to put apartment buildings like Opus' and Doran's in Dinkytown, especially when so many other projects are going up around the commercial core, I also think there are opportunities for development in the area--they just probably aren't the ones that attract big name, big money developers. However, this is a creative city and there are folks like Jason McLean from the Loring and Varsity who have big ideas along with a solid commitment to the community they're changing, and urban planners like Ignacio San Martin who want to see small-area planning done in a more comprehensive way, rather than approving projects parcel-by-parcel. It isn't a moral judgement to say that development corporations propose projects that fit their bottom line, and that we shouldn't forced into making decisions based on what keeps the money coming for them. At the very least, it should be up to the community stakeholders first and foremost, then let the developers see what profit motive they can find in the requests for proposals that are generated by the small area plan.

The idea that we or others concerned about their project's effect Dinkytown didn't attempt to talk to Opus is completely wrong. Here is a quote from a memo written by the Dinkytown Business Assoc. President in May, which I posted on the SD site in June: “We have been asked to get more specific and detailed in our requests. A subcommittee met on Monday evening and has come up with an outline of ideas to submit to OPUS and any other developer to help make any transition in development less tragic for existing Dinkytown.[...] Councilmember Hofstede worked to get many of us to the table to work on the issues with the development. OPUS said nothing during these meetings. It appears that their plan was to just wait us out during this whole process and just wait until they got the approval from the city. Lesson learned.”

Besides agreeing to partially fund the Dinky shuttle bus from the 18th Ave Ramp to Dinkytown, Opus never budged from their proposal after that statement. What hope could we have had for a compromise on rezoning after reading that kind of report?

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby mulad » August 30th, 2013, 8:33 pm

Anondson wrote:It is worth pointing out that the more of the old buildings that are torn down too fast, you are left with fewer and fewer of the buildings where the eclectic odd businesses can afford to be. More and more the new construction is built to a standard that only national chains seem to be able to afford to rent space in. Lively neighborhood have a good mix of this. I think that mix is what folks see in Dinktown's character they see being threatened by the losses and new buildings replacing them . . . in at least one part.
Eh -- You kind of said it already, but what's needed is cheap space, not necessarily old space. If new space can be cheap, it's fine. I suspect some tipping of the balance between residential and business property taxes (which are currently much higher) may also be in order, but it also could be done with some sort of subsidy arrangement (possibly just by the property owner themselves, though there might be some legal entanglements with providing preferential treatment to a particular tenant).

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 31st, 2013, 10:21 am

mhwbkr wrote:And although I do think its an overreach to put apartment buildings like Opus' and Doran's in Dinkytown, especially when so many other projects are going up around the commercial core,
Just to put it out there, every one of the developments going up has been fully rented, despite the relatively high price, which to me signals there are a bunch of people who would live close to the U if given the opportunity. Beyond that, we could just as easily be asking the question of how appropriate losing detached or aging structures outside the core is. Plenty of early 1900s houses, apartment buildings, etc are going away to provide housing outside the core.
mhwbkr wrote:I also think there are opportunities for development in the area--they just probably aren't the ones that attract big name, big money developers.
I think we should be asking the question of why anyone outside bigger name developers aren't attracted to smaller infill projects. (I'll note that the Doran proposal takes up 2 parcels of land, and roughly 30% of the sidewalk-facing block - if every infill project was this small we'd see a pretty varied streetscape vs the projects taking up ~1/3 of an entire block. Or more, the UTEC site taking up 1.5+ full blocks). I truly think that parking minimums, minimum dwelling unit size, and FAR limitations are the biggest man-made barriers to smaller, profitable development. There's a great recent post here taking on the first issue. The question I have, though... would smaller infill be any more palatable if it still means a loss of some structures that may be older? I agree with many on this board that there are tons of areas that could be re-developed (Subway/Pizza Hut, McDonald's, parking east of Dinkytown Wine/Spirits, perhaps even some value capture by the city decking over the railroad tracks?), but for whatever reason, even the big name developers aren't attracted to these lots - perhaps because the owners' price is too high? I'm not sure as to why, maybe your time talking with council-members and developers gave you some insight - I'm interested to hear your take and learn some more, not having been a part of these talks.
It isn't a moral judgement to say that development corporations propose projects that fit their bottom line, and that we shouldn't forced into making decisions based on what keeps the money coming for them. At the very least, it should be up to the community stakeholders first and foremost, then let the developers see what profit motive they can find in the requests for proposals that are generated by the small area plan.
I agree with you that people who have invested time and money in a neighborhood should have a strong input on development. But I also think it's a slippery slope to leave it mostly up to current constituents as many times fears or emotions come through, some justified, others perhaps not. For example, what if the neighborhood makes small-area plans that would make it impossible for the owners of the 2 parcels involved in the Doran proposal to sell for whatever reason (the shot-down Colfax Ave proposal in the Wedge where the owner cannot afford to rehab the property as is nor sell it as a home yet needs the money for health reason comes to mind)?

I think another thing that gets lost in proposals like this is the true constituency of a development. One of the councilmembers during the final vote spoke about the Como neighborhood being behind this proposal as it kept development pressure (and therefore prices) down in their neighborhood. Who else may be affected that isn't taken into account (the 100+ people who could live here each year, 390k Mpls residents and businesses who collectively benefit from the increased tax base given the current public infrastructure, 7B+ people who benefit from living patterns that reduce carbon emissions, etc). The benefits that come from development like this are tough to quantify, as are the downsides, which is why I get a little shaky putting so much of the decision-making in a relatively small group of people's hands.
Besides agreeing to partially fund the Dinky shuttle bus from the 18th Ave Ramp to Dinkytown, Opus never budged from their proposal after that statement. What hope could we have had for a compromise on rezoning after reading that kind of report?
I was under the impression that Opus had made numerous changes to their proposed design after working with neighborhood constituents? Number of parking spaces, the way the building set back along different streets (after 2 along 14th and 3 along 13th), and a few more? Can you help shed some more light on this?

Sorry for the long post, I wanted to get a few of my thoughts out to see how you feel about them. I appreciate you coming here to discuss the same way some of us are trying to reach out within the SD movement.

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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby mhwbkr » September 1st, 2013, 8:46 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:Just to put it out there, every one of the developments going up has been fully rented, despite the relatively high price, which to me signals there are a bunch of people who would live close to the U if given the opportunity. Beyond that, we could just as easily be asking the question of how appropriate losing detached or aging structures outside the core is. Plenty of early 1900s houses, apartment buildings, etc are going away to provide housing outside the core.
I suppose I'd like to see data about area rentals, but that's not to say that I doubt your claim. Either way, what I mean by overreach was that the Opus project, which isn't very big in comparison to the other projects, was an overreach due to the rezoning it brought with it. The projects I was referencing are the ones that are not completed--Marshall/UTEC, 15th ave & 7th st, a couple more down in Stadium Village. More and more housing is coming into the area. There seemed no good reason to disrupt the C1 status of Dinkytown for a smaller project, especially when we were just starting our small area plan (which, btw, the City alotted $50,000 and a well-respected City Planner toward). No reason that exists outside Opus' bank account, at least...

I think Save Dinkytown's position on the historic nature of Dinkytown has been over/mis-stated. Although I think it deserves a historic conservation district status, you folks are right that the House of Hanson building wasn't historic (although the Mesa/Camdi/Dinkytown Tattoo building that Doran wants to smash is quite old, if I'm not mistaken, and would therefor contribute to a historic district designation). This was not a preservation fight, it was a fight over who should be putting C3a zoning in the commercial core of Dinkytown on the table. It was our position that the stakeholders in DInkytown shouldn't be forced to make that decision right then and there simply because Opus forced us to do so, especially because of the small area plan in progress. So your point about the ages of the houses that could potentially be torn down is fairly irrelevant to our* concerns. There are several homes that have historic status, so (hopefully) they will be safe, but most are owned by slumlords like Jim Eischens and the land or structures could probably be put to a different use.
RailBaronYarr wrote:The question I have, though... would smaller infill be any more palatable if it still means a loss of some structures that may be older? I agree with many on this board that there are tons of areas that could be re-developed (Subway/Pizza Hut, McDonald's, parking east of Dinkytown Wine/Spirits, perhaps even some value capture by the city decking over the railroad tracks?), but for whatever reason, even the big name developers aren't attracted to these lots - perhaps because the owners' price is too high? I'm not sure as to why, maybe your time talking with council-members and developers gave you some insight - I'm interested to hear your take and learn some more, not having been a part of these talks.
Opus was attracted to HoH/Duffy's property because they were willing to sell**. CVS came in and took away a lot of HoH's business. Also, I'm not sure if people realize the amount of small businesses that were in the UTEC building. The former building manager estimated 80, and that included MPIRG and an alternative high school. The employees and students made up a good deal of their business as well. As for Duffy's, they were... a pizza place that was never open and run by two people who have few friends in the area. I can't really talk politely about them so I'll just leave it at that. I doubt the lot across 14th ave was as lucrative because its smaller and there's no way in hell they'd get the liquor store guys to sell. They own a few other buildings too. I don't really have any insight into why this is a general trend, however (or if it is, actually). In a meeting in March, Gary Schiff did mention that he thought McDonalds would be next, but I wasn't surprised to hear recently that they'd turned down an offer. The franchise owner is fairly involved in what's happening in Dinkytown.
RailBaronYarr wrote:I agree with you that people who have invested time and money in a neighborhood should have a strong input on development. But I also think it's a slippery slope to leave it mostly up to current constituents as many times fears or emotions come through, some justified, others perhaps not. For example, what if the neighborhood makes small-area plans that would make it impossible for the owners of the 2 parcels involved in the Doran proposal to sell for whatever reason (the shot-down Colfax Ave proposal in the Wedge where the owner cannot afford to rehab the property as is nor sell it as a home yet needs the money for health reason comes to mind)?
The SAP sets guidelines and serves as a clearinghouse for what stakeholders would like to see preserved and what they would like changed. It isn't an end-all Bible of yays or nays for development. Its just a smaller version of the master plan. Opus proved that there are ways to get a project in even if it is specifically ruled out by a master plan. I do think that a primary goal of any plan for Dinkytown should and would likely include protection and preference for local businesses, and would protect the small business character from being subjected to the conditions that are being created by U's expansion. Opus' support from the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association (MHNA) was conditional in part on they and their successors in interest guiding local small businesses into their commercial spaces. Having that as part of the small area plan would bolster that kind of condition.

Although you can calculate the millions that a single project or developer will be investing in and returning to the neighborhood, there's no real way to calculate similar figures for the small businesses that having been doing so for decades. I think those people deserve a say on big decisions like rezoning and adding housing to what has been a commercial district for several decades. It also would have helped business owners and other stakeholders see a way around the "inevitability of it all" if they knew that the City truly had their back on allowing them to guide development and request proposals. Most of the business owners I talked to supported SD, signed our petition, but told me it was a losing battle and they'd rather spend their time and resources planning for how to deal with the on-coming parking squeeze, the possibility of moving, increased rents, or whatever issue they will likely be facing as a result of allowing C3a into Dinkytown.

Your point about constituency is interesting and I guess I'd need to think a bit more about it before responding. But I would say that this is going to hurt many of the businesses, primarily the retail, and they will feel that much more acutely than the other groups you listed.
RailBaronYarr wrote:I was under the impression that Opus had made numerous changes to their proposed design after working with neighborhood constituents? Number of parking spaces, the way the building set back along different streets (after 2 along 14th and 3 along 13th), and a few more? Can you help shed some more light on this?
Those changes were made before the time I was talking about, largely as a result of input from the MHNA Land Use Committee and the City Land Use Committee of the Whole. They were part of the project by the time they submitted their final application in April. Besides the owner of Kafe 421, who now has nowhere to park his catering van and now will have his rear windows/natural light blocked, no one really had issues with the design (well, I think it'll be pretty ugly but my aesthetic sense is nothing to build a campaign around...). The quote I included mainly referenced the Dinkytown Business Assoc.'s attempts to get Opus to agree to meet the conditions that were attached to the MHNA's support. You can read more about that here: http://savedinkytown.com/why-the-marcy- ... s-project/


*please note that when I say "we" or "our" in reference to Save Dinkytown, I mean the core group of people who were actively working on our strategy and messaging. I'm sure you can find several quotes from the Facebook group to dispute me on what you think SD's position or message was, but to be honest, I've only met one of the most prolific posters on the FB group and she was not involved beyond attending the final Council vote. My sympathies are with them, for the most part, but in terms of message coherency, there are plenty of things said on there that were/are secondary to our main message.
**By the way, I was truly stunned when I saw Chris Iverson's claim in his "Three Misconceptions About the Opus Project" streets.mn post that we were giving people the impression the property owners didn't want to sell. Where he got that idea is beyond me. As the business I work for had just been pushed out in a fairly dirty way by our landlord of 37 years, and I had been screamed at by the owner of Duffy's shortly before seeing that, I was well aware they wanted to sell and no one else from SD asserted otherwise.

mhwbkr
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Re: Dinkytown

Postby mhwbkr » September 1st, 2013, 9:35 pm

The moratorium would have been for 6 months or until the City approved the Dinkytown small area plan, which is due to be done in October or November. I don't think this was too much to ask. It was approved by the neighborhood association with only 2 dissenters (the same body that only supported Opus conditionally and still only at a 6-5 margin) and of course was brought to vote by the ward's council person. Its pretty amazing the city ignored all that but I guess that speaks to Doran's influence at City Hall.
FISHMANPET wrote: 1) This moratorium does not protect the entire area being studied under the small area plan, only a subset of it.
2) A moratorium is traditionally started at the beginning of the small area plan process (like in Linden Hills), not near the end of it.
1) The moratorium would have covered the C1 areas that are now essentially C3a thanks to Opus, i.e. the area that's been in dispute for this whole year

2) Gary Schiff was dead against the Linden Corner development, and the controversy that project caused is the primary reason they did an SAP for Linden Hills. We (Save Dinkytown) were pretty surprised then that he became our biggest opponent on the council when it came to Opus, as there are many similarities between the two situations (C1 district rezoned to C3a). For him to use that as a reason to deny the Dinkytown moratorium is pretty ridiculous to me. It also just adds to my frustration with Diane Hofstede, who could have pushed for a moratorium before Opus applied for their project, and didn't start supporting us until basically the day of the Z&P meeting. At the kick-off for the SAP in March at the Varsity, I even suggested we look into doing this so buildings wouldn't be falling as we were writing the plan. She just mumbled something about not wanting the City to get sued and suggested I talk to Opus directly, which kind of missed the point. It was kind of amazing to see a council member standing on a stage talking about not wanting to get sued by a group of guys who were in the audience as well.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Dinkytown not Megatown/Save Dinkytown

Postby FISHMANPET » September 1st, 2013, 9:54 pm

mhwbkr wrote:Opus was attracted to HoH/Duffy's property because they were willing to sell**. CVS came in and took away a lot of HoH's business. Also, I'm not sure if people realize the amount of small businesses that were in the UTEC building. The former building manager estimated 80, and that included MPIRG and an alternative high school. The employees and students made up a good deal of their business as well. As for Duffy's, they were... a pizza place that was never open and run by two people who have few friends in the area. I can't really talk politely about them so I'll just leave it at that. I doubt the lot across 14th ave was as lucrative because its smaller and there's no way in hell they'd get the liquor store guys to sell. They own a few other buildings too. I don't really have any insight into why this is a general trend, however (or if it is, actually). In a meeting in March, Gary Schiff did mention that he thought McDonalds would be next, but I wasn't surprised to hear recently that they'd turned down an offer. The franchise owner is fairly involved in what's happening in Dinkytown.
This brings up something that I think is important in the chain vs local debate. It's not nearly that simple. McDonalds is much more important to my idea of Dinkytown than Duffy's Pizza is. And as you state here, McDonalds is more involved with the community than Duffy's is. I've got no blanket problems with chains in the area. When the chain is a franchise owned by a local franchisee and that owner is able to be involved with the community, then I have no problem with that. Qdoba, for example, strikes me as a chain that's good for Dinkytown. They're involved with the area, and even hire UofM students to do local marketing.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Dinkytown

Postby FISHMANPET » September 1st, 2013, 9:57 pm

I don't think you'll find a lot of love for Diane Hofstede on this board, for what it's worth.

Traditionally the city council defers to the local CM on local issues like this, so for Diane to be over-ridden twice just goes to show how little power she wields with the council and/or how far out of touch her views are with the views of the rest of the council.


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