Neighborhood leaders discuss the issues facing the city’s first neighborhood.
Marcy-Holmes has been in the news almost constantly this past year, whether it has been for a proposed 42-story condo tower or the relaunch of a new Restaurant Alma. So what’s next for the Southeast Minneapolis neighborhood?
We caught up with Bob Stableski and John Capecci, the vice president and secretary of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, to get a snapshot of what’s going on in the neighborhood. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
What are big issues facing the neighborhood this year?
Capecci: On the Creative Places Committee, we realized that a lot of people were having these small conversations about neighborhood identity: Who are we, how we want other people to think of it and should we be called Marcy-Holmes? It’s not just naming. It’s really the larger question of why we live here, why we love it and what do people think of us.
A bunch of people are upset that we keep getting called Northeast. Why does it matter? The short answer is this year we’re going to draw as many public conversations as possible and hear what identity means and why it’s important. We’re trying to document more and more of these conversations.
We are a neighborhood that has sections with strong identities. We’ve got the riverfront. We’ve got Dinkytown. We’ve got 9th Street as it gets more and more of an identity. All we’re doing is asking over and over again this year, … what’s up with that? One possible option is that we get an agency in here.
Stableski: These neighborhood lines were drawn so many years ago. And if they were drawn today they wouldn’t be drawn there. We want to be one neighborhood, but we recognize it already has five parts. This identity question is important because part of it is, how do you attract people here?
Recently a nearby group of residents organized against a large condo tower proposed in the neighborhood, a project that the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association supported. Does it feel like there’s tension between the neighborhood’s historic roots and newfound interest from developers?
Stableski: It’s a neighborhood that’s inherently in tension, but it’s not tense. As the North Loop developed, as the Mill District developed, this is the next property. You essentially have the idea of an urban city coming here and the student population and long-term residents going here. It’s another one of those questions of trade-offs between density, infrastructure and the [Saint Anthony Falls Historic District]. I think what upsets people most about it is not its size — though nobody likes it — but the violation of the historic district.
What is the neighborhood’s Creative Places Committee working on?
Capecci: I’m really excited about this project that we’ve been doing for a couple years now. We’re partnering with the University of Minnesota to digitally collect creative works inspired by the neighborhood, which goes back to the 1800s and further. We have about 200 images from all creative media. We just recently entered a partnership with the Department of Art and Digital Collections Department at the university to house that collection and make it a robust, searchable database.
We’re building an online network for creative neighbors where anyone who self-identifies as an artist in the neighborhood can say who else lives here, who they want to partner with, where’s studio space and what businesses support artists.
We had 400 creative people and their families move to the neighborhood a couple years ago [at the A-Mill Artist Lofts]. That’s been a lot of impetus for these projects.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Capecci was treasurer of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association’s board of directors. He is the secretary.