Uptown Businesses and Citizens Against South Hennepin Reconstruction Proposed Design

South Hennepin Reconstruction Campaign for Businesses & Residents

UPDATE – NOVEMBER 7, 2021: Public Works has released their recommended design. DETAILS HERE

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Hennepin Ave. S. design feedback SURVEY open for comments through January 28, 2022.

**PLEASE COMPLETE THE SURVEY TO INFORM MINNEAPOLIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS**

Upcoming virtual open house

Public Works staff will host a virtual open house to share the recommended design for Hennepin Ave. S. and answer questions.

The virtual open house will be held on Thursday, January 13, 2022 at 4:30 p.m.

**PLEASE ATTEND THIS MEETING AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD**

**PLEASE CONTACT MAYOR JACOB FREY TO ASK HIM TO INSTRUCT PUBLIC WORKS TO ENGAGE A PROCESS THAT ACCOUNTS FOR THE NEEDS OF OUR INDEPENDENT RETAILERS, OFFICES, AND RESTAURANTS

**STAY TUNED FOR UPDATED INFORMATION – Including how you can help push for a Hennepin Ave. that will help our businesses, employees, neighbors and visitors alike. Please share with your friends and neighbors! 

SIGNS TO BE PLACED IN YOUR BUSINESS WINDOWS

  • PICK UP SIGNS AT: Café Meow (2323 Hennepin Ave S) and UPS Store (2801 Hennepin Ave S)

Hennepin For All Hennepin For SM BUSINESS – sign Hennepin For VITALITY – sign

 

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Please also consider signing the petition organized by the Uptown Association! Please join our petition to ensure we have a Hennepin Avenue that works for everyone – including businesses, residents, visitors, persons with disabilities, and our elderly visitors and residents.

For this project to proceed, the City must revise or its plan so that it meaningfully incorporates the concerns and feedback of the Uptown business community.  The vibrancy of this node depends on engaging this group of stakeholders, which the City failed do in their plan for Phase One of Hennepin Reconstruction, and has failed to do thus far in Phase Two.

It is critical to the vibrancy and viability of this commercial node that the City not repeat its mistake

THE CASE AGAINST IS STRONGER THAN THE CASE FOR THIS DESIGN

  • City staff has gone on record saying that the Phase One it implemented on Hennepin south of Lake “didn’t work well.”, but the proposed alignment looks remarkably similar to that one and will likely repeat the same failures.  Pure and simple, it’s terrible urban design.
  • This will be a 2 year construction project, so the best case scenario is already going to be very tough for businesses to survive.  We are concerned that the worst case scenario is much more likely: that after 2 years of construction, this proposed design will be obsolete the day that opens, just like Phase One was/is.
  • The elimination of so much parking so abruptly will be very harmful to small businesses, especially those  who are able to survive a 2 year construction project.
  • Since it’s unclear at this time how the impact of the pandemic is going to impact transit use and commuting patterns, we feel that committing to permanent bus lanes in this plan could be a mistake.  More time and consideration must be allocated to study what commuting will be in the “new normal”.
  • This design also doesn’t acknowledge how the pandemic has also changed how many retailers work.  Many of them have embraced online channels, resulting in more need for FedEx pickup/dropoff, DoorDash, etc.  This design completely ignores the newly emerging importance of logistics to making small retail work in a world where a retailer has to have as many revenue channels as possible to compete against corporations like Amazon, Target, Wal-mart, etc to survive.  And of course, it doesn’t acknowledge the importance of parking in the customer experience and how customers perceive and ultimately decide where to shop.
  • The next 10 years promise major changes in car ownership (maybe people don’t own cars, but rather “subscribe” to them, like a monthly pass to Uber), and types of cars (electric), that such a rigid plan may not be able to accommodate. Already electric cars are gaining in market share and we worry that instead of leading on this issue, the city is instead adding bike infrastructure whose additional value is marginal at best to our bike network.
  • We can accommodate any increased cycling by putting more bike racks down and perhaps other more lean/modular options than full-on bike lanes on both sides of the street.  Cyclists are important, but it is critical that their demands are proportionate to other needs, such as accessibility and green space.
  • MNDOT just complete a multi-year project to improve the Hennepin access to I-94 and I-35W.  As such, Hennepin will continue to be necessary thoroughfare for vehicle traffic going to and from the freeway system.  It would be both foolish and wasteful to have capital projects that seem to be at such odds with each other, as the Hennepin and MNDOT plans appear to be.  Common sense must prevail!
  • For policymakers who pay lip-service to affordability, creating an artificial scarcity in parking will make parking costs increase, which will ultimately have to be borne by employees, renters, customers, and visitors.  It will make the area less affordable.
  • While Uptown businesses pay some of the highest property taxes in Minneapolis, there are other areas in the last decade that have replaced it as the “hot” commercial district (North Loop, 50th/France, Northeast to some extent), and the City has enacted many policies in Uptown (the “red carpet” temporary bus lanes, abruptly increased metered parking costs, the failed South Hennepin redesign, to name a few) without accounting for how these changes have affected small businesses, visitor patterns, and more.  Uptown needs to be more thoughtfully engaged, rather than just being a playground for planner trends.
  • There doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgment from policymakers of the fact that such abrupt changes will also be accompanied by an assessment.  These potentially radical changes will diminish customer and traffic patterns, and will be also by accompanied by increased costs for business owners.  Decreased sales/revenue and increased costs are not a good combination!
  • THE PROPOSAL TELLS THE STORY: THE INPUT OF UPTOWN BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY IGNORED IN THE ENGAGEMENT PROCESS, AS WERE ANY LESSONS THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN LEARNED PERTAINING TO THE FAILURE OF PUBLIC WORKS’ PHASE ONE.

GIVEN THE FAILURE OF PHASE ONE AND THE PROPOSED PHASE TWO, WE HAVE NO TRUST IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS THAT THE SECOND PHASE AS PROPOSED WILL BE ANY BETTER.  IT IS FOOLISH TO REPEAT FAILURES, BUT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THIS PROPOSAL DOES.

PHASE TWO, IF IT GOES FORWARD, MUST HAVE A DESIGN THAT IS MORE IN TOUCH WITH THE REALITIES OF ALL WHO EXPERIENCE HENNEPIN, NOT ONLY THE NICHE OF LOBBYISTS WHO ARE DRIVING THIS PROCESS AND LEADING THIS NEIGHBORHOOD TO THE BRINK.

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED DESIGN:

  • About 20 spaces for on-street parking and loading across 14 blocks of Hennepin Ave.
  • Curb space on other streets where parking/loading strategies could be implemented have been identified by the City. The strategies are used to offset the reduced on-street parking on Hennepin Ave. These don’t seem to account for the increased bicycle infrastructure on streets like 24th and 28th that have already had street parking removed.
  • Two full-time (24-hour) dedicated transit lanes from Douglas Ave to Uptown Transit Station. Bus ridership has sharply decreased during the Covid pandemic and it is unclear when/if commuting patterns will return to levels/schedules that they were pre-Covid.
  • Two-way protected bikeway (sidewalk level) on the east side of Hennepin Ave from Franklin Ave to Lake St. Coupled with the adjacent bus lane, this design appears to let bus passengers off right into a bike lane.  It is terrible design!
  • The central median for most of the corridor to improve safety by limiting left turns. According to Public Work’s own projections, green space on Hennepin will be less than exists today.
  • Two vehicle lanes (one each direction) from Franklin Ave to Uptown Transit Station. As long as there are on/off ramps from Hennepin to I-94, Hennepin Ave will always need to serve automobiles as a priority.
  • Additional vehicle lanes near Franklin Ave and Lagoon Ave/Lake St due to greater traffic demands.

This proposal calls for elimination of 92% of the on-street parking along this key business and residential corridor.

The current proposed design re-cast Hennepin as a corridor to be “passed through”, rather than as home to a commercial node where people with different transportation profiles come to work, shop, dine, and more.  The proposed design would create a neighborhood that is radically different from the area’s function historically.  Without significant modification, this project will adversely affect the entire Uptown community, threaten the viability of small and independent Uptown businesses and their employees and visitors, and provide yet another barrier to having an Uptown that can function as a commercial node.

We recognize and agree with many of the goals this project aims to address. Enhanced pedestrian experience, reduction of carbon footprint, trying to minimize traffic accidents, etc. are all worthy ideas. While we appreciate the City’s concern to improve safety for all road users, an consequence of the project is that they would negatively impact many businesses on both sides of Hennepin Avenue and beyond.

Today, Hennepin serves as not only a corridor for travel, but also a node for over 150 businesses along the street. Many of these businesses utilize the on-street parking to load & unload important deliveries (including DoorDash, Lyft, Uber, etc.), perform curbside interactions with customers and other business-related tasks, easily accommodate people with disabilities and elderly visitors, and of course, are utilized by customers.

If the proposed design passes, businesses with storefronts along Hennepin Avenue would not be able to function, and would be negatively impacted by these changes as they stand. In addition, property owners (both commercial and residential) will be assessed for this project, thereby increasing the “cost of doing business” and the “cost of living” in Uptown, while providing significant obstacles for businesses to attract customers and employees.

Phase 1 of Hennepin reconstruction from 36th to W. Lake Street had largely negative consequences to businesses on the corridor, and we are concerned that this process is “history repeating”, without learning lessons from Phase 1.

The Minneapolis City Council will be voting on the prosed design (UPDATE: date TBD). Your voice matters! Independent businesses are the backbone of a vibrant Uptown community where residents want to live, work and play, and your support is needed for the success of the community. We need businesses and residents to speak up, and all concerns to be heard.

ADDTIONAL INFORMATION:

City of Minneapolis Project Page: https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/projects/hennepin-ave-s/

Funding sources for the Hennepin South Reconstruction project. The sources and approximate percentages are:

  • Federal grant 35%
  • State Aid (gas tax) 25%
  • City funds (bonds, levies, taxes) 30-35%
  • Property Assessments 5-10%

The federal grant amount and the assessment amount are fixed and don’t change as the design of the project progresses.

Businesses on this corridor paid over $6.6mm in taxes in 2020. See tax assessment per address HERE.

The Minneapolis Regional Chamber released a report (Feb. 2021), to illustrate the significant economic and financial contributions the
businesses and residents of the City of Minneapolis contribute to the vitality of the entire state. View the entire report: Minneapolis Balance of Payments Report

How many parking spaces are removed with each design?

On street: There are currently approximately 340 on-street spaces on Hennepin.  Option 1 is showing approximately 30 spaces; Option 2 is showing approximately 60 spaces.

Private Off-street: In terms of off-street parking there are a total of 1,715 spaces on the east side of Hennepin (approx. 500 in surface parking lots) and 1,120 on the west side of Hennepin (approx. 940 in surface parking lots).

CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS PARKING STUDY 2018

Parking Survey Observations:

  • Completed in March of 2018 – historically a very quiet time in Uptown
  • Off-street parking was counted in this study.  The reality is that off street parking is rarely available to all, typically being limited to private business or apartment-specific parking. The only true public parking available is within several public lots and ramps all located in one block. For some businesses to access those lots and ramps are over a mile away, and the hourly costs are significant.

Current City initiatives:

  1. The Transportation Action Plan (2020)
  2. The Complete Streets Policy (2016)
  3. The Vision Zero commitment (2017)
  4. The City’s Bicycle Master Plan
  5. The METRO E Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

WHERE ARE THE INITIATIVES FOR BUSINESS SUPPORT IN OUR COMMUNITY?