Greenway Improvements and Economic Development
"Improvements" is the general term we give to land-use, transporation, and safety issues in the Greenway. It encompasses everything from new apartment projects to improved trail crossings, from installing new ramps and bridges to adding amenities like benches and picnic tables. Improvements also include enhancing transit in the corridor, from maintaining the bike/walk trail to working on getting a streetcar in the Greenway.
We also focus on land-use issues that may harm the Greenway, such as the high-voltage power lines that were proposed for the corridor. We took the lead in organizing citizens and neighborhoods to oppose the lines in the Greenway -- and we were thrilled when we won! The lines are now being buried under 28th street, instead of being strung up overhead in the Greenway.
New Construction and Development
The Greenway is a magnet for new construction and development. There are currently more than 1,200 apartment units under construction along the Greenway! This kind of transit-oriented development (TOD) is good for the Greenway and good for Minneapolis, but the Greenway needs advocates to ensure that developments enhance the Greenway, not harm it. Midtown Greenway Coalition volunteers and staff meet regularly with city planners, city council members, architects, and developers to ensure that new projects are Greenway friendly.
We are strongly pro-growth and density, and rarely oppose development projects along the Greenway. However, it is not uncommon for us to oppose project designs that could harm the Greenway. One continuing concern are proposed buildings that may shadow the Greenway excessively in the winter, making the trail more dangerous (due to the sun not being able to melt the ice and snow). We've had several recent victories in this area, convicing developers to step back their buildings in order to protect the Greenway.
Ramps, Bridges, Street Crossings, and Amenties
The Coaliton also works to improve street crossings and add new ramps and stairs. Recently, we were successful in our efforts to improve the street crossing at 28th, convicing the city to install a new median that alerted cars to the bike crossing. That was an improvement, but we continue to focus on ways to make that crossing (and a similar one at Minnehaha) safer.
We've also successfully convinced the city to switch stop signs on the trail, so that cars have to stop, rather than bikes. In these sections, there are more bikes than cars, so it makes sense. (In other sections, the ratio is more even.)
We're also always working to put in more ramps and stairs, improve the condition of the trail, and install benches and other amenities. Watch for new bike FIXIT stations going in soon, donated by DERO Bike Racks.
Our Coalition has worked to get a streetcar in the Greenway for more than 10 years. To keep the Greenway green, our vision is a "turf-embedded" streetcar, rather than one with rails encased in concrete. These "grass-tracks" are common in Europe, and are also used in New Orleans and Kenosha, WI. We believe the streetcar would bring many more people to the Midtown Corridor, where they can easily visit the many restaurants and businesses on Lake Street. A streetcar would also put more "eyes on the Greenway," increasing safety. Learn more about our efforts to get a streetcar in the Greenway.
Other Land-use Issues
One of our biggest victories was keeping the proposed high-voltage power lines out of the Greenway! Working with a coalition of neighborhoods, the Midtown Greenway Coalition led the battle and paid for an excellent attorney, who helped us navigate and successfully win our legal challenges. The power lines will be installed under 28th street, rather than placed overhead in the Greenway. We're also working to help design the sub-stations, so they won't be like the regular (ugly) ones that are standard. The new stations will be more like works of art!
Greenway Improvements Committee
Our Greenway Improvements Committee, an official sub-committee of the board of directors, is open to everyone with an interest in land-use, development, and transit issues that affect the Greenway. Issues the committee works on include:
- RAMPS, PARKS AND PLAZAS on land adjacent to the Greenway, part of a long-term community vision for more trail entrance ramps, greenspaces, public walkways along the street-level edge of the Greenway’s trench segment, and plazas at future trail transit stations. These open spaces will improve Greenway access, safety, and aesthetics.
- GUIDING NEW DEVELOPMENTS on land adjacent to the Greenway so that they front the Greenway rather than hide it behind parking lots or loading docks.
- STREETCARS in the Greenway alongside the trails, to some day provide a cross-town link connecting the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line with the future Southwest Corridor Light Rail Transit line as an important part of a growing regional rail system.
This committee meets the second Thursday of every month to discuss developments and improvements to the Greenway. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to get involved.
More on Construction and Developments...
Given the narrowness of the Greenway, developments that front on the Greenway can make or break the Greenway experience. Developments that gracefully integrate and have “eyes and ears” on the Greenway make trail users experiences much more pleasant than blank walls and parking garages. Since the first phase was completed in 2000, the Midtown Greenway has been seen by developers as a prime location for residential development. Even with housing market ups and downs, the Coalition has seen a steady stream of development proposals that front on the Greenway.
The Coalition offers suggestions for making developments more Greenway friendly. We focus on the impacts that the development will have on the Greenway only and look to the local neighborhood organization to provide input on all other issues such as traffic impacts or the aesthetics of the buildings in question. Over the years, the Coalition has become the ‘go to’ organization that developers and elected officials contact about how a particular development impacts the Greenway. Developers request time on our Improvements Committee agenda to present their proposals and hear our feedback. Then, the Coalition drafts a letter or resolution on the development which it sends to the developer, elected officials, and the local neighborhood organization. For larger and more controversial developments, the Board usually passes a resolution on the development while on less controversial developments, we usually only send a letter.
Besides giving input on developments, the Coalition participates in City land use planning efforts, advocates for changes in zoning that will create better developments, and looks at issues which impact the Greenway users experience like conflicts with auto traffic at at-grade trail crossings. We also work with other Coalition committees like the Greenspace Committee to insure that all Coalition interests are represented when talking to developers, etc.