Hiawatha-Minnehaha Development & RR Corridor/MinHi Line

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Hiawatha-Minnehaha Development & RR Corridor/MinHi Line

Postby twincitizen » December 30th, 2014, 12:27 pm

Hennepin County to auction off tax-forfeited grain elevator: http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/287045441.html

I've been wondering how actively the city and county are trying to free up the southern end of that rail corridor for development. It appears the actual milling operation is now limited to 35th-38th Street, with additional trackage south of 38th still necessary for train car storage, queueing, etc. How feasible would it be for the RR to abandon everything south of 44th ASAP, and within a few years up to 42nd? The section from 38th to at least 40th, maybe 41st appears probably crucial to the ongoing milling operation between 35th-38th.

Heck, even just the single block from 46th to 45th would do wonders for development in the LRT station area. That last block doesn't seem remotely necessary for RR/milling operation, but it's a huge hindrance to the obvious redevelopment opportunities in the area.

Also, how big of an issue are those high-voltage transmission lines? They seem to be mainly constructed in the air rights above the train tracks, so they'd obviously pose a serious threat/impediment to orderly development of the area. Could they be buried south of the big substation at 40th Street? That would help a ton in cleaning up and de-industrializing the entire corridor between 40th and Minnehaha Parkway. Or are the transmission lines there to stay, essentially preserving a vacant (or soon-to-be vacant) RR corridor in perpetuity?

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby Gman12 » December 30th, 2014, 1:27 pm

It is very rare for the cost/benefit ratio ever getting to a point that makes sense to bury transmission lines. This type of line would likely cost 10-15 times as much as it's current configuration to convert to underground, it is not as simple as just throwing a cable in the ground, not to mention all the other water, sewer, gas, communication and low voltage electric infrastructure and different impacts of soil types that complicates things underground. (Which is why I giggle to myself anytime someone says build a tunnel under Nicollet downtown, but that's another topic ;) )

In short they are there to stay, but good news is the lines are in a location that will allow for development.

Longfellow Station for example

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Minneapo ... ,,0,-15.75

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby Realstreets » December 30th, 2014, 1:28 pm

I would be interested to hear anyone's thoughts/expert opinions on the utility lines. IIRC the Longfellow Station Apartments had some issue as HUD subsidized housing can't be so close to high tension lines...

SE corner of 45th and Hiawatha is ripe for an apartment building. I would like to see something in between the fountain business and Walgreens with some retail facing Hiawatha which could share the extremely underused Walgreen's parking lot if they want.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby woofner » December 30th, 2014, 2:46 pm

Gman12 wrote:all the other water, sewer, gas, communication and low voltage electric infrastructure and different impacts of soil types that complicates things underground. (Which is why I giggle to myself anytime someone says build a tunnel under Nicollet downtown, but that's another topic ;) )
Since you present yourself an expert on underground utilities, can you provide us with a link to a reference source indicating the amount of space required for the various types of utilities that can be located underground? Or give your expert estimate for the same here? Assuming local water, sewer, gas, communication, and low voltage electric utilities are all present in a dense urban area, would you estimate that they take up more than 40' of a typical cross section?
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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby twincitizen » December 30th, 2014, 3:56 pm

I'd imagine that for the one mile stretch from 40th (the substation) to roughly Nawahada / the parkway, it couldn't be too terribly difficult to bury the lines roughly where the existing railbed sits. There aren't going to be any utilities underneath 100+ yr old railroad tracks, though I'd imagine there's some pollution in the area. But of course, yes, the cost-benefit would have to be considered. How much and how intensely could the property be developed by leaving the overhead lines in place (while tidying up the vacated RR ROW) vs. completely burying the lines for that 1 mile and building on top of the rail bed (leaving an easement above the power lines of course).

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby seanrichardryan » December 30th, 2014, 4:05 pm

Burying the new transmission lines along the Midtown for 1.5 miles cost $60 million.
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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby twincitizen » December 30th, 2014, 4:13 pm

And that was to bury them under 28th Street, correct? The concept I'm envisioning would be to put them under / alongside the freight corridor, in such a way to allow development on both sides of the old RR. No street or other infrastructure would be put directly over the buried lines, other than perhaps a walking path or occasional driveway access, and the cross streets of 41st-46th of course.

EDIT: Looking at the streetview image of Longfellow Station, perhaps burying the lines isn't even necessary. Any reason they couldn't be run right along Hiawatha, just like they are north of the substation at 40th? Is there something different about the lines south of that substation?? Or are they just older and there's no real reason for them to be placed in the rail ROW? Hiawatha already has "local" overhead lines south of 40th, where the high-voltage stuff transitions to the rail ROW. Could everything instead be strung along Hiawatha on taller, heavy duty monopoles? Other than aesthetics, this is probably preferable to burying lines. Get them out of the old rail ROW entirely.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby Silophant » December 30th, 2014, 5:12 pm

Disclaimer: I am not an official spokesperson for Xcel Energy. Also, I'm a substation engineer, not a transmission line engineer or transmission planner.

As you're aware, transmission lines are very expensive. Rule of thumb is about $1-1.5 million/mile for overhead 115kV, and about 15x that for underground. The new pair of lines under 28th St. from Hiawatha to Oakland cost just above $20 million for just a bit under 1.5 miles, and a similar line for a similar distance from Southtown substation to Minnehaha Park would probably be a similar cost, maybe a couple million cheaper, since there's not likely to be much for conflicting utilities in a century-old rail ROW. (Note: the $60 million cost seanrichardryan quoted above was for the whole South Minneapolis project, including the two new substations and rearranging the all the feeder lines.) While underground lines are a bit more reliable than overhead lines, Xcel is vanishingly unlikely to pay the massive cost of undergrounding them, and it would almost certainly only happen if the city or a consortium of developers or someone offered to pay for it.

My guess for what might be more likely to happen would be the scenario in twincitizen's edit, leaving the lines overhead but moving them to the edge of the Hiawatha ROW. The only difference from the section of line north of the substation is that it would be a double circuit, so there would be a set of three conductors on each side of the monopole, just like the line section across Hiawatha from 50th St. Station. Since there can't be permanent structures underneath a transmission line (some exceptions apply, of course), any development along Hiawatha would probably need to be set back a bit further than Longfellow Station is. Unless those structures are already in line to be replaced, this would probably still require the city or developers to foot the bill, but it would likely be closer to the $3 million range than the $20 million range, so I could maybe see it happening.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby Anondson » December 31st, 2014, 11:43 am

Is there any height restriction in this area? If it gets bought, elevators torn down, and redeveloped I hope whatever gets built there can be as tall as the elevators there right now.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby Silophant » January 6th, 2015, 1:25 pm

Sold to a naval officer/landlord who's going to try to turn it into apartments.
I hope that works out. I'd much rather see the silos and their mural preserved than torn down.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby David Greene » January 6th, 2015, 2:21 pm

Silophant wrote:Sold to a naval officer/landlord who's going to try to turn it into apartments.
I hope that works out. I'd much rather see the silos and their mural preserved than torn down.
Interesting side note: there was a display of WPA (Federal Art Project?) funded depression-era art at the National Gallery a few years back and one of the pieces was a picture of this very elevator! My wife and I toured the exhibit and were delighted to find it!

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby John21 » January 6th, 2015, 5:15 pm

I hope this works out. It could be pretty cool and a good option for the other elevators in the future.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby Realstreets » January 8th, 2015, 10:04 am

Personally I don't like how these silo repurposings look. Sort of brutalist. But at the same time I want to see more development along Hiawatha and that would be a lot of concrete to haul away.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby nickmgray » January 8th, 2015, 11:27 am

There are a lot of bland conversions, but i think most of us here would be happy if they modeled the project after this https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6038/627 ... 4f44_n.jpg

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby Realstreets » January 8th, 2015, 11:57 am

nickmgray wrote:There are a lot of bland conversions, but i think most of us here would be happy if they modeled the project after this https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6038/627 ... 4f44_n.jpg
Indeed. That looks awesome.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby FISHMANPET » January 8th, 2015, 11:59 am

I saw something on Twitter a few days ago, and now I can't find it, but it was a recent conversion done in Europe where they'd cut windows through the concrete silo and made them incredibly colorful and it was pretty great. But now I can't find it.

I'd agree that just the bare concrete is kind of Brutalist, but adding some color can change things up.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby kiliff75 » January 12th, 2015, 10:47 am

This could probably use its own thread, but 70-80 rental units are being proposed for an old industrial building along Hiawatha (4041 Hiawatha Ave). Same developer as the one that did the Pillsbury A Mill...

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/m ... plans.html

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby TommyT » January 12th, 2015, 12:49 pm

Can we get some affordable units without section 42? Can't they take out the dishwasher and washer/dryer in the unit and bring the rent down to a decent rate?

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby twincitizen » January 12th, 2015, 12:54 pm

It's immaterial to this discussion, but yes, it does bother me that in-unit washer-dryer is like the standard now, even for subsidized/affordable housing. It seems incredibly wasteful of both living space and materials to put a washer-dryer in every single studio/1BR unit, at any price level. Living alone, I probably do laundry every two weeks or so, with maybe an additional bedsheets/towels load every now and then. I don't get it...

That said, taking out the W/D combo and dishwasher is maybe like a one-time $1500-2000 investment, which could not possibly have an impact on rents. Clearly, property owners see it as an amenity that attracts and retains renters (which it obviously is, compared to the alternative of not having those appliances). Still, the government should for sure be keeping a closer eye on that stuff. I'm not saying poor people should live in featureless spartan cubes, but yeah putting these appliances in every unit is super wasteful.

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Re: Hiawatha Avenue Grain Elevators & Freight Rail Corridor

Postby TommyT » January 12th, 2015, 1:06 pm

The point I guess I'm trying to make, is there must be SOME amenities (pools, fitness centers, concierge, etc etc etc) that can be taken away to give the "normal people" the opportunity to enjoy something that isn't 1000+ a month for a studio or 100 years old.


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