Urban renewal is a tricky thing. The politics of redevelopment or historic restoration are messy, with so many competing and conflicting interests. Yet when done reasonably well, it can mean new life for our city centers instead of a slow “doughnut” decay.
Minneapolis does urban renewal well.
This New York Times article on the Downtown East project and new Vikings stadium spells this out so well. Whether or not you agree with financing for the Vikings new stadium, you have to agree that this city is committed to keeping its downtown alive.
I travel a lot for business and have stayed in other cities where you don’t step foot out of the hotel on the streets after 7 pm. There are no shops or sports centers, few restaurants and bars draw a crowd late at night and no one lives there. Minneapolis is alive with Twins games, music, theater, restaurants, bars and best of all, more and more people live downtown in a wonderful mix of renovated historical buildings and new modern construction.
Renewal or restoration is not limited to Minneapolis. New lofts and apartments are going up in other urban neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities and I’m particularly fascinated by the Schmidt Artist Lofts and the A-Mill, where old breweries and mills are being converted to artist live-work spaces while retaining their industrial feel.