Uptown Businesses and Citizens Against South Hennepin Reconstruction Proposed Designs

South Hennepin Reconstruction Campaign for Businesses

Please consider signing the petition organized by the Uptown Association! The goal of the petition is to have the City Council vote delayed until after the November election, and also allow for changes in design options to be considered to accommodate and compromise all that makes up our community.

The City of Minneapolis has released two design layouts for Phase 2 of the Hennepin Avenue South reconstruction project from W. Lake Street to Douglas Avenue, referred to as Option 1 and Option 2. Both proposals include 24/7 dedicated bus lanes in each direction, one of the proposals includes two bike lanes, and both have only one lane for car traffic in each direction.

Both proposals call for elimination of 83-92% of the on-street parking along this key business and residential corridor.

The City is currently accepting feedback through April 16th, 2021 on the two design options. Although we encourage you to provide feedback on the City’s project page, we also urge you to join and support our petition calling for more significant changes to the design, so that it incorporates the needs of our businesses.

The current designs re-cast Hennepin as a corridor to be “passed through”, rather than as home to a commercial node where people come to work, shop, dine, and more.  These designs 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 Uptown businesses, 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. Single traffic lanes with a shared turning lane, enhanced pedestrian experience, reduction of carbon footprint, rapid bus lanes et. al., are all worthy ideas. While we appreciate the City’s concern to improve safety for all road users, an unintended consequence of the project is that they would negatively impact many businesses on both sides of Hennepin Avenue and beyond.

With increased sidewalks, medians, bus, and bike lanes, these areas serve as a driveway and lifeline for over 150 businesses along the corridor. 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 persons using wheelchairs, and of course, are utilized by customers.

If either of the current Options are chosen, businesses with storefronts along Hennepin Avenue would not be able to function properly, 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 these two design options in August. Your voice matters! The business community is 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.

Read Testimonials from Hennepin Avenue 31st to W. Lake Street Business Owners

  • City staff has gone on record saying that the previous alignment on Hennepin south of Lake “didn’t work well.”, but this alignment looks remarkably similar to that one.
  • This will be a 2 year construction, so the best case scenario is already going to be very tough for businesses to survive.
  • 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.
  • Can’t we accommodate the people who claim to want to “bike to stores” by putting more bike racks down and perhaps other more lean/modular options than full on bike lanes here?
  • 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.
  • This design doesn’t acknowledge 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 one 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 decide where to shop.
  • Furthermore, the next 10 years seem to promise major changes in car ownership models (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.
  • This redesign has been characterized as a “50-60 year plan”, but with a future that is so unclear with respect to the “new normal” of commuting patterns, car ownership, transit use, and retail patterns, a plan that makes so many irreversible infrastructure decisions is very risky.
  • 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, usage pattern, and more.
  • 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 make customer and traffic patterns uncertain, and will be also by accompanied by increased costs for business owners.

ADDTIONAL INFORMATION:

City of Minneapolis Project Page: https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/projects/hennepin-ave-s/
The City project team is seeking input through April 16, 2021.

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
  • The majority of off-street parking available that is included in this study, are all 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.

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?