July was a very active – and summer-like –in mpls downtown, and a few key milestones were observed! Here is a quick recap of the month.

Aquatennial was a success!

The 80th Minneapolis Aquatennial enjoyed perfect weather and big crowds, book-ended by the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade on 2nd Avenue and the Target Fireworks over the Mississippi with many fun events in between. There was even a Ferris Wheel on the riverfront. Thanks to all our sponsors and partners, participants and volunteers, and our amazing events staff for their hard and creative work!

celebrating 10 years with DID

It’s hard to believe this is the 10 year anniversary of the Downtown Improvement District (DID). In a July 5 editorial, the Star Tribune offered kind words about the impact DID has had over those years. We also took time to celebrate on Nicollet with our hardworking staff and the Ambassadors, four of whom have been with the program for all 10 years. Council Members Goodman and Fletcher joined to read a proclamation from Mayor Jacob Frey declaring July 10th “DID Day” in mpls. On to the next decade!

Peavey Plaza grand opening celebration

The culmination of another roughly 10-year journey occurred with a ribbon cutting at the renovated Peavey Plaza. It was truly a team effort between the city’s Public Works Department, Coen+Partners and their many collaborators, (especially New History which skillfully navigated the historical designation considerations of the design), Global Specialty Contractors, the MN Orchestra, Green Minneapolis and the mpls downtown council. Private donors, led by Target, matched city and state funds and the result of this successful public–private partnership is a wonderful new civic space for all to enjoy, which will serve mpls for years to come. Many elected officials were important leaders (former Mayors R.T. Rybak and Betsy Hodges, Mayor Frey, former Council President Barb Johnson and Council Member Kevin Reich), but none more so than Council Member Lisa Goodman. It wouldn’t have happened without her persistence and insistence! Please join us for our 2025 plan quarterly forum on August 6 to discover the new Peavey Plaza!

an active Nicollet all month

Nicollet was especially active in July. In addition to the regular #OnNicollet events, at various times during the month people were treated to free Kemps Moose Tracks ice cream as part of the 10,000 scoops event which was a fundraiser for Salvation Army programs (13,000 scoops were handed out!), Johnsonville brats as part of a fundraiser for food programs, and a pop-up Twins “Mall Ball” activation in the middle of their series with the Yankees. As part of Aquatennial, the first Frey’s Fry Throwdown took place last Friday featuring eight local restaurants vying for the best new French Fry dish. DID also set-up “Street Store” in front of our Nicollet office, a volunteer-led initiative to offer donated clothing to those in need. The new Nicollet was designed for just these kinds of activities, so it’s great to see them occurring with frequency.

don’t miss upcoming Go Outside programming

Also in downtown programming, we continue to have great crowds at Go Outside with Hennepin County events. Our latest outdoor movie, “Moana”, drew our biggest crowd yet on Monday night. Coming up next are one more trivia night (Aug. 13) and movie (“Spaceballs”, Aug. 26), plus four free Alchemy 365 classes at Target Field Station on four Thursdays (Aug. 1, 15, 22 and 29) and the Most Epic Family Day on Aug. 18.

IDA research on downtown activity

All of these activities centered in downtown drive home the central premise of a research report completed jointly by our office and the International Downtown Association about the economic, social and cultural significance of the central core. The report was the subject of a lively panel discussion hosted by Stantec, one of the 90+ businesses which have moved into downtown over the last few years because of the advantages of being in the central business district. Job and population growth in mpls downtown have been significant, and we expect it to continue to the benefit of the city, the region and the state.

cultural competency leadership program

In mid-July we sent information about a cultural competency leadership program that is being offered by the Greater Twin Cities YMCA in partnership with the mpls downtown council. In case you missed that newsletter, click here for more information.  Members and partners of the mpls downtown council are being offered a $100 discount and other additional benefits for participation in the program. Please feel free to share this information with others in your organization who might be interested!

continued safety work

We remain focused on on public safety challenges downtown. Summer safety strategies across a range of approaches – law enforcement, outreach, street activation and programming – are in full swing. A special thanks to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff David Hutchinson for increasing the number of deputies assigned to the “Joint Beats” collaboration on some crucial weekends. And congratulations to 1st Precinct Inspector Eddie Frizell who has been selected to serves as the next Chief of the Metro Transit Police Department. If you’d like to learn more about summer safety strategies, join us on August 13 at Westminster Presbyterian for a networking social where you can meet the groups that are collaborating to create a safe downtown.

adding sworn officers in 2020 budget discussion

Finally, one significant additional topic to pay attention to at City Hall will be discussion of the MPD budget for 2020. Chief Medaria Arradondo has made a case for additional sworn officer positions, a topic I have written about in the recent past. I’ll be sure to provide updates as that discussion takes shape in the weeks ahead.

Enjoy the remaining summer weather and thanks for all you do to make our downtown extraordinary! (and GO TWINS!)

steve cramer

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

notes from steve cramer archives:

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