A great opportunity exists to create an outdoor public space that will welcome people from the Greenway to Uptown and vice versa, and incorporate a future rail transit station to boot.
The main reason the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority purchased the 29th Street railroad corridor (which we now know as the Midtown Greenway) was for future rail transit. A station on the future Greenway rail transit line has been anticipated all along at Hennepin Avenue. This station will be on the south side of the Greenway floor because the transit trains will run on the south side of the corridor with the trails running alongside and north of the transit. Also, the station will likely be west of Hennepin Avenue because the current bus transit station east of Hennepin Avenue was designed without leaving space in the Greenway for rail transit station platforms or elevators and stairways to get from the Greenway up to street level. This likely Greenway rail transit station at the southwest corner of the Greenway and Hennepin Avenue could be constructed on land that is already owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Hennepin County Libraries. In May 2011, the Park Board consented to participating in the public involvement process with the Library design team to visualize how Park Board land might play a role in providing a high quality connection between the new library, the Midtown Greenway and a likely future streetcar station there in the Greenway, and Hennepin Avenue and The Mall. The Mall is the Park Board property that separate the library land from the Greenway.
The Midtown Greenway Coalition, the Uptown Association, the East Isles Residents Association, the County, the Park Board, and others are in the beginning stages of teamwork to pursue a great Greenway connection here. Furthermore, the Library Board has set aside funding for rehab or reconstruction of the Walker Library. A reference to this opportunity for place-making appears on page 54 of the City of Minneapolis-adopted Uptown Small Area Plan (2008), as follows:
“During this planning process the YWCA and Walker Library contemplated a joint development on the YWCA site. This project has been tabled, but opportunities exist in the future to create a signature gathering space at these sites which are key because of their proximity to both the transit center on Hennepin Avenue as well as rail transit in the Greenway. Connections to the Greenway and the creation of an additional gathering space should be explored when future development is proposed. A premier front door to Uptown from the Greenway could be provided with a gathering space here at the below-grade Greenway level where it could be seen and experienced by Greenway trail and transit users.”