City Council approves plan for new Hennepin Cultural District

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February 8, 2013 // UPDATED 11:07 am - February 15, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Photo courtesy Plan-It Hennepin report.
Sarah McKenzie

The City Council approved a plan earlier today to create a new Hennepin Cultural District anchored by the riverfront and the Walker Art Center.

The plan is the result of a year-long Plan-It Hennepin project led by the Hennepin Theatre Trust, City of Minneapolis, Walker Art Center and Artspace. The group gathered feedback from more than 1,500 stakeholders who participated in workshops and special events over the past year.

The district includes 1st Avenue North and Nicollet, but initial projects will focus on Hennepin, said Tom Hoch, president and CEO of the Hennepin Theatre Trust.  

"It’s going to be a great example of what we should do citywide and that is to connect," he said. "I’m not sure that we necessarily need to build something new as much as we need to connect what’s already here."

Over and over again, project leaders heard from stakeholders that Hennepin is an "uneven experience."

"If we can use arts and culture to even out that experience and create the connective tissue I believe we will get people freely moving up and down the street," he said. "Cities don’t stay the same. They are either moving forward or backward. That’s just how it is whether we like it or not, and this is an opportunity to move forward."

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) said she was impressed by the "collaboration that happened to make the plan a reality."  

"I am especially happy to see a call for greening parking lots on Hennepin," she said.  "Lunds did a beautiful job and if we are to have these lots it’s a disgrace they are not greened."

Some of the goals for the first two years for the new district include the following: 
— Formally recognize the Hennepin Cultural District.
— Explore new ways to encourage arts and complementary development in the district and throughout the state.
— Create an ongoing "no vacancy" initiative for downtown storefronts.
— Expand activities for youth.
— Create a marketing/brand strategy for the district.
— Track progress of goals with key partners.
— Invest in public art.
— Work on improving the perception of safety downtown.
— Work to create live/work spaces in the district.

The Hennepin Cultural District plan is designed to align with the goals of the Minneapolis Downtown Council's 2025 plan