Development at 5009 Beard Ave. on hold due to lawsuit

It took awhile for this lawsuit to develop. I saw the proposal in December 2022 and was appalled with its scale and minimal setbacks. I was a land use planner for Minneapolis before retiring.  I never would have recommended a building of this scale. I hope the plaintiffs prevail. -Perry T.

I frequently walk by this church and they are currently renovating the basement. Any ideas on this info? -A.

Yes, but we don’t know anything for sure. The developer told us the previous tenant pulled a permit for the basement work, but that tenant was evicted last fall. So, it's not clear who is doing the work. It is possible that basement work is necessary to bring the building to code if it's going to be used in the future. The developer is not answering specific questions about the building or their plans at this time, so we don't have anything firm to go on. -Brian Martucci

If the council approved the ordinance governing high density housing in residential neighborhoods, what's the plaintiff's beef?  And does he have to have empirical data to support his claims of potential crime, noise, and nuisance?  These high rise buildings are now the new normal -- who can fight City Hall? -Julie S.

This building need not be so big and box-like. The developers could have scaled down the sides closest to neighboring homes to better fit their height and do less to impact shading. This building is close to 50th & France, not on 50th & France. That makes a big difference. I'm sure it does to those who live on this much quieter street. I'm sure they enjoy the relative peace, quiet and available street parking–all of which will be at risk when oversized buildings are introduced, especially as they are now being built with little to no parking provided. Totally unfair to existing neighbors. People still have cars whether the city likes it or not. Working with neighbors, scale down sides, reduce shading impacts, include parking and listen. All might help developers get their projects through. But some of the variances being allowed must be stopped.

No more heights increased, or building in the sod. We sacrifice our future when we do such short sighted actions. -Carin P

It’s really too bad this article breezes over the most important issue–that the city of Minneapolis is willfully disregarding their own building codes and allowing developers to attempt to bully neighborhoods into suffering through these massively oversized projects for pure profit. In areas where the immediate neighbors aren’t able to gather enough support and/or funding to fight these illegal builds, they have no choice but to take it. The city of Minneapolis is to blame for this. -Mike H.

I live one block from this proposed development and have hard copies of the proposed blueprints that were shared in the initial neighborhood meeting. The five-story Waters development is situated on a full city block that has only a church and a park on the entire block; nothing else. There is a difference. The real paradox that nobody seems to want to acknowledge is that 4% is only two or three of the total 64 apartments that are planned to be "affordable." Four percent is not a meaningful number nor does it even begin to address the affordable housing concern.  In the proposed plans for the 5009 Beard Ave. development, these affordable units are planned to be studio apartments. Affordable studio apartments do not solve a housing crisis. The developers are fleecing our representatives.

We also need to shine light on how "affordable" is defined by developers.

The median income in 55410 is $146,742.  

The median income in Minnesota is $84,313

50% of the current median 55410 income is $73,371.  The developer could legally justify listing a studio apartment for $1,634/month, which is 30% of a $73,000 income. Affordable housing is not why anyone is trying to push this project through.

Ward 13 Councilmember Linea Palmisano consistently presents herself as a reasonable, grounded representative. She performatively attended many of our meetings, behaved sympathetically and then overtly voted against us. We were not represented. -Laura V.

What you need to know about the Southwest light rail funding deal

There is some context that is missing especially in relation to the cost for the project. The Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority (HCRRA) bought the abandoned railroad corridor in 1980 specifically with the intent to install a light rail corridor. In 1996, Minneapolis Public Works requested permission to put in a “temporary" bike and pedestrian trail to be abandoned at the time light rail was ready for construction. HCRRA granted the construction of the temporary trail. In 2002, the trail was completed. In 2014, HCRRA started the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) Project planning stage. As soon as this plan began, the residents of Kenwood and Cedar-Isles Dean began vigorously protesting the SWLRT in an all out effort to kill the project.

To move forward with the project, SWLRT had to have approval from all the municipalities. All had signed off save for Mayor R.T. Rybak, who refused to do so unless the demands of Kenwood and Cedar-Isles Dean were met--to reinstall the Kenilworth bike and pedestrian  trail. To achieve this, the SWLRT had to tunnel a large portion of the corridor. Hence, the $540 million, 1/2 mile Kenilworth Corridor was squeezed into the plan and the neighborhoods got the line buried. The real irony is the constant criticism of the Met Council by the Cedar-Kenwood community. How terrible this organization is, how expensive the SWLRT is, and that it needs elected bodies. Yet, without their demands, the SWLRT would be up and running and with costs of $540 million less dollars. If the Met Council changes to an elected board, the wealthy neighborhoods will ward off Met Council programs that are necessary to facilitate change for this large and growing Metropolitan area. -Jake W.

JANE is THC for women

I just feel as though any story about a white or white-passing business owner who profits off of cannabis should include a footnote that white, Black and brown people use cannabis equally, but Black and brown people are arrested and convicted at highly disproportionate rates. As a result, criminal records impose huge barriers for those seeking employment, housing, and educational opportunities keeping the plethora of racial disparities alive and well in Minnesota. -Emily K.

City clears Whittier encampment

They cleared another encampment between Second Ave & Stevens Avenue last week. I wish we had real leadership in a mayor and the City Council. You have a downtown that's 40% vacant and you can't tell me that it would cost more to deal with the people rather than bulldozing down their encampments to set up elsewhere. It's a fantasy that the downtown will come back to what it was in the 1970s and 1980s. -David A.

What’s to come with or without the 2040 Plan

One of my areas of interest is how government regulation and tax incentives have favored multi family rental development over condo development and how the lack of affordable condos minimizes the opportunity for many people to generate intergenerational wealth.  Does your work address this at all? - Bruce K.

We haven’t looked into this and we appreciate the suggested reporting angle. -Melody Hoffmann

Hennepin County, Soo Line Garden have opportunity to make gardening more accessible

Michael Sack's desire to advocate for persons w/mobility impairments, who use assistive devices (wheelchairs) can be appreciated. However, there is some information in his article that needs addressing.

The most important is the Hennepin County plan for the path that goes down the middle of the garden. It is not physically possible to make the path in the Hennepin Cty plan, ADA accessible due to the steep slope. It would be extremely unsafe to use it for persons with mobility impairments with the current design. In order to have an ADA accessible path, the garden would have to be dug up, regraded, and much of the garden would be lost [Editor’s note: estimates from gardeners and the County show that between 5 and 27% of the plots would be lost].  There is a brownfield under the garden and the contaminants could be released which could negatively impact the health of persons who live in the area.

The Soo Line Garden has a long history of having people with disabilities or impairments, who have gardened there in the past, and garden there currently. Last year a person with total vision loss gardened there. Gardeners worked to build a garden that would enable this person to have the garden they wanted. Currently in the garden, there are persons with traumatic brain injuries, neurodevelopmental issues, mental health issues, and more. In the past there have been persons with mobility impairments that could navigate the slope, along with a wide range of other disabilities or impairments. Through the years the Soo Line Garden has always made accommodations for the needs of persons with impairments in order to assist them in gardening there. And will continue to do so in the future.

There is already a pedestrian path/bike path to the Greenway in the Soo Line Garden. It is not paved though for environmental reasons and to preserve the organic nature of the garden and natural areas. This path has been there for 20+ years, providing access to the Greenway.

The gardeners at the Soo Line Garden are stewards of the land. They care for it and share it with a community as it is a park. It is not “theirs.” I encourage Michael Sacks and the Minneapolis Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities to meet with members of the Soo Line Garden to learn more about their reasons for not wanting a path through the garden. -Corinne S., Soo Line gardener