As we come to the end of August with a fall-like weather week, I have to say summer has gone by incredibly fast. And the pace downtown is equally brisk! Here are a few highlights from August.

safety update

The spotlight remains on safety issues downtown and throughout our City. Mayor Frey’s proposed 2020 budget addresses all aspects of a comprehensive approach, from investing in longer term solutions to improve the prospects in life for all community members, to a full range of safety initiatives—importantly including adding additional officers to the force. On behalf of our organization I have expressed our support for his budget, and will be working with our board leadership to make this known at City Hall.

Theater in the Round update

A Star Tribune article highlighted one of DID’s challenges in the realm of public safety, which is how to best manage the Theater in the Round space on Nicollet just outside the Central Library. While open for use by any and all, and intended for periodic programming organized by DID, we have determined the need to barricade and clear the area twice this summer to permit necessary cleaning and maintenance work to proceed. The site in effect became an encampment, which raises significant safety and public health issues as is the case wherever encampments develop. Our staff is working to develop ideas on how this space can be more successful once scheduled work is completed later this summer. We’re also in touch with City and County officials. Stay tuned!

livability conversations

Even though we face these challenges, we do well to remember that other communities look to us as leaders in addressing the safety and livability issues every major North American city is grappling with these days. To that point, delegations from Winnipeg and Seattle visited to learn about our community and law enforcement partnerships, and the Block by Block organization we work with to provide the Ambassador program is holding a national conference here next month to focus on best practices, many of which are found in Minneapolis.

Downtown Mpls Street Art Festival and Most Epic Family Day

Fun activities organized by our office included he first annual Downtown Minneapolis Street Art festival, a partnership between DID and Hennepin Theatre Trust, at various locations on Nicollet and Hennepin. Several well-known chalk artists created amazing 3-D images (my favorite was Babe the Blue Ox in front of IDS Center), and other artistic forms were featured as well. And our summer ending Most Epic Family Day family event as part of our Go Outside with Hennepin County partnership programming was also a hit on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Target Field Station.

august member event recap

Member events featured a panel discussion of the recently completed Peavey Plaza project, and at a separate event a panel on the role of historic preservation in the downtown development process. It’s appropriate that these events occurred in close proximity because the story of Peavey Plaza reflects the opportunities and challenges of updating and re-energizing an important historic place that had fallen on hard times. Boy was it worth the effort! It lightens my step every time I pass by and see such a wide cross-section of the downtown community enjoying the water features and contemplative spaces there.

communications with key officials

As I’ve reported before downtown business associations sponsor every other month lunch meetings with various groups of key officials. Our session in August with Minneapolis City officials was well-attended, lively and covered a wide range of topics of mutual interest. I think many left the discussion with a renewed commitment to better communicate as early as possible when issues come up, when we potentially agree and maybe even more importantly when we don’t!

value of building permits

Investment continues throughout downtown, and helped our area be one of 13 of the top 20 markets in the nation with year over year increases in the value of building permits issued. The rules of economics tell us a slow-down is in the cards at some point, but so far our balanced, diversified economy and demand for housing have kept momentum moving forward.

retail work #OnNicollet

One project of the Nicollet Stakeholders Group you can see both on the Nicollet kiosks located at every other block, and at our #OnNicollet website (www.onnicollet.com/shop) is a more detailed list of specific retailers and hospitality options in the very core of downtown. Not as much as we used to have, but still a healthy mix and more than many other central business districts have been able to sustain in a changing retail environment. And with The Dayton’s Project under construction and investment at City Center as well to make that location more attractive, I’m confident additional retail is on the way. As are more restaurants, for example 801 Chophouse under construction in the former first floor Barnes and Noble space. We also launched the most updated Yes! Mpls Retail Report highlighting all the opportunities that await organizations looking to learn more about opening up a store in the downtown central core. Learn more about and download the full Retail Report PDF at www.mplsdowntown.com/retail.

water works groundbreaking

In another effort highlighting continued progress enhancing downtown’s vibrancy and public realm, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation hosted a groundbreaking event on Wednesday for the Water Works project. The initiative will re-imagine West River Parkway along the Mississippi Riverfront, providing a better connection to downtown and creating a great gathering space while also paying tribute to the cultural history and our city’s birthplace. This project is scheduled for completion in Fall 2020.

Manova returns october 14-16

Looking down the road a few weeks, the second MANOVA Summit is set for October 14-16, featuring leading national/international experts in a wide array of health related fields, and highly engaging speakers. Learn more by clicking here. This event is “home grown”, highlights some of the leading attributes of our City, region and State (healthcare, wellness, innovation and an engaged civic culture), and will continue to prosper with our support. And it’s located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis at Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot. I hope you and/or others at your business will be able to participate, taking advantage of the event’s flexible pricing plan. And look for more detailed information from us next week about the conference!

As we look ahead, there are a couple upcoming events and happenings to put on your calendars:

  • Explore Downtown Living returns Saturday, September 21 from 10 am-5 pm. Don’t miss your chance to check out approximately 20 downtown residential properties, including a first-look at City Club Apartments and Ironclad. This event is free, and you can sign up at exploredtliving.com
  • Our mpls downtown council gala featuring the 2025 plan leadership awards presented by YA is coming up Tuesday, October 1 at Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot. Secure your table and register today.
  • The 2019 Ignite Marketing Conference, sponsored by YA and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, takes place Thursday, October 3 at the Carlson School of Management. Register today and learn more about this year’s topic: Marketing to the Generations.
  • The DID’s Greening & Public Realm Awards public vote is now open. Help us celebrate and honor the very best in downtown greening and public realm work by casting your votes. There are 12 categories with incredible finalists included in each. Thank you to all who help invest in our downtown’s greening as it enhances the vibrancy and vitality of our city’s core.

Please enjoy the Labor Day weekend, go Twins, Vikings, Loons and Lynx, and see you around our extraordinary downtown!

steve cramer

president & ceo, mpls downtown council and Mpls Downtown Improvement District

upcoming membership events

  • sept 5: happy hour presentation: engaging employees in the downtown experience | more info
  • sept 12: coffee & conversation: history of invention and innovation in mpls | more info
  • sept 19: member forum: celebrating the ironclad | more info
  • oct. 1: mdc gala featuring the 2025 plan leadership awards presented by YA | register today
  • CLICK HERE for a full member event list PDF for 2019