Community notebook // City reports drop in Warehouse District Crime

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August 27, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss

Three weeks after a press conference announcing new measures to combat late-night crime in the Warehouse District, the City of Minneapolis is reporting positive results. Violent crime is down 45 percent compared to the previous three weeks, said 1st Precinct Inspector Eddie Frizell.

Most violent crime in Minneapolis happens in the Warehouse District between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on weekends, especially Sundays. The city identified the 18-and-up nights commonly held on Sundays as probable root causes for crime. Working with several clubs that were identified as problem establishments, the city created a voluntary set of guidelines, such as eliminating 18-and-up nights at problem establishments.

The next step will be to make these changes permanent.

The Minneapolis City Council drafted new regulations that would allow the city to mandate changes rather than work with problem establishments. These new regulations, which are in the early stages of adoption, would allow the city to mandate permanent elimination of 18-and-up nights, shorten of business hours or make other changes at problem clubs. 

Mayor R.T. Rybak said he did not believe all 18 and up nights were bad, citing First Avenue as a venue that holds the events properly. But Rybak added that focusing on the events has yielded results.

“In the few weeks we’ve been focused on this issue, we’ve made significant progress,” he said.

In addition to the crackdown on 18-and-up nights, Frizell said the city had several additional programs in place designed to crack down on crime in the Warehouse District and throughout downtown.

One such program would increase lighting in the Warehouse District by replacing existing 100-watt bulbs in street lamps with 200-watt bulbs. Multiple studies have linked increased lighting with reductions in street crime.

The Minneapolis Police Department was also working with Minneapolis Public Schools and Metro Transit to make changes to the program that provides bus cards to high school students.

Currently, students in the program receive bus cards that can be used at any time on any day. The proposal would restrict use of student bus cards to 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. in an effort to reduce the number of young people downtown late at night. The MPD also proposed the addition of two new bus routes that would reduce the number of students transferring downtown. 

New condo development coming to riverfront

Shamrock Development’s long-delayed condo project near Gold Medal Park could break ground as soon as this fall, making it the first new condo development in Minneapolis for several years. The project is planned for two parcels of land near the park, the riverfront and Interstate 35W: 110 and 124 12th Ave. S.

According to Shamrock Development’s Jim Stanton, the project calls for 169 total units with a mix of one-plus-den, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. The plan also includes 319 units of parking, a swimming pool, a playground and a dog park.

Stanton said he thought the project was the first new condo development in Minneapolis in four or five years. He said the time was right for the project because sales of units at Shamrock’s other condo developments had picked up significantly. 

“We’ve built about 700 [condos] downtown,” he said. “Given the market we’ve had in the last two [to] three months at the Bridgewater right diagonally across from it, we feel really encouraged.”

Stanton said many of the units would be priced below $400,000.

The project should begin construction in the fall and could be completed in about 14 months. Currently, the project has no announced name. In the original proposal the project was known as Park Vista, but that name has since been dropped. 

Nordeast Big River Brew Fest raises money for charity

East Side Neighborhood Service’s fundraising event, the Nordeast Big River Brew Fest, will return for a second year.

The beer festival raises money for East Side Neighborhood Services (ESNS), a non-profit organization that provides basic needs resources and social services to individuals and families in Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis. The organization has nine core programs for those in need, including day care, job training and assistance for seniors.

The second-annual Nordeast Big River Brew Fest will be held 1 p.m.–4 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Grain Belt Bottling House, 79 13th Ave. N.E.

The inaugural beer tasting raised around $20,000 for ESNS, and Andrew Pooch, the organization’s public relations specialist, said they hope to double that this year. 

Pooch said he expects this year’s festival to have around 200 beers, including those from big names like Anheuser-Busch and local breweries like Summit and Northeast’s Indeed Brewing. It will also serve as the public debut for another Northeast Brewery, Northgate Brewing.

Northgate’s Adam Sjogren said he heard about the festival through his former homebrew club, the Nordeast Brewers Alliance. The Nordeast Brewers Alliance will host a homebrew competition at the festival, and Northgate will have its flagship brown ale available, as well as some additional beers.

Tickets for the Nordeast Big River Brew Fest are available now for $25 at Surdyk’s, River Liquor, Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room, Sentyrz or online at esns.org.

Open Streets coming to North Minneapolis

After two successful events in Uptown, the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is bringing Open Streets to North Minneapolis. On Saturday, Sept. 29, a portion of N. Lowry will be open only to bicycle and pedestrian traffic and dotted with activities, classes, vendors and more.

Colin Harris, the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition’s lead coordinator for Open Streets, said the expansion of Open Streets was made possible by an additional grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and that expansion to new areas was always in the plans. 

“All along the Coalition has wanted this to be a sustainable initiative that spreads across the city,” said Harris. “It’s been a really effective community building activity and not just a biking activity.”

Harris said activities planned for the Open Streets event include yoga and dance classes, art booths and healthful food options. 

The Northside Open Streets event will close Lowry from approximately Interstate 94 to North Upton Avenue, a span of about two miles. The event will run 11 a.m.–6 p.m., making it the longest Open Streets event yet. The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is coordinating the event with the Lowry Corridor Business Association to highlight the businesses in the area.

“They’re helping to connect us with businesses and organizations along Lowry so we can really highlight what exists along that street,” said Harris.

The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is also working with the organizers of Harvest Fest, the annual Northside community party. Harvest Fest will also be held along Lowry Avenue on Sept. 29. 

City moves to shut down two nightclubs

The Regulatory Services Department’s Licenses and Consumer Services Division has issued notices of adverse license action to two Warehouse District clubs, Envy and Bootleggers. The notices cite multiple violations of city ordinances and could lead to both clubs shutting down.

The notice delivered to Deepak Nath, the owner of Envy, cites violations such as admitting and serving an obviously intoxicated patron, serving alcohol after 2 a.m. on two separate occasions and failure to pay citations. The Notice also states that management of the club was transferred to its minority owner without proper notice to the city.

The notice delivered to James Beamon, the owner of Bootleggers, alleges the business allowed intoxicated patrons to fight inside and outside the establishment and also cites failure to serve food on Sundays and multiple staff issues, such as failing to prevent marijuana use on the premises, failing to provide the city with a “do not admit” list, failing to keep patrons without wristbands out of alcohol services areas and more.

Envy and Bootleggers share a direct link in management. According to the notices, Susan Beamon is a minority owner in both clubs. The notice delivered to Envy alleges that Beamon is the primary decision maker for business operations for the club. 

Both clubs have the option to have their cases heard by an administrative law judge for an evidentiary hearing. Upon completion of the hearing, the City Council will determine what adverse license actions should be taken against each club.

The clubs can also admit to the violations and allow the City Council to take action without a hearing. Either club can also choose to surrender its business license and close the business.

Manager of Business Licensing Grant Wilson said it was his opinion that both clubs should surrender their licenses and close down. 

ElseWarehouse opens Dec. 1.

The apartment project in the former Precision Building at 730 Washington Ave. has a new name and an opening date.

The Greco Development project has been dubbed ElseWarehouse and will open to residents on Dec. 1. According to Greco vice president of Development Brent Rogers, units in the building are now available to lease.

ElseWarehouse’s 130 units are a mix of studio apartments and one- to three-bedroom units. The market-rate building features a rooftop deck and clubroom, fitness center, lobby bar and other high-end amenities, including a six-story atrium with a skylight that bathes the lobby in natural light.

“It’s as nice as any of the condo deals that were done down there,” Rogers said.

One of the major attractions of the project, Rogers said, is the building’s location. Several theaters, restaurants and shops are within walking distance, as are Target Field, the Fulton brewery and future transit hub The Interchange.

ElseWarehouse will likely add another restaurant tenant to the mix. Rogers said Greco was close to signing a lease with a restaurant operator for a 6,500-square-foot retail space on the first floor. 

“The neighborhood is just getting better and better,” Rogers said. 

Artspace cancels planned downtown headquarters

Artspace, the non-profit developer of artist housing and projects such as the Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts, has canceled its plans for a six-story development on Washington Avenue.

Artspace Vice President of Communications Melodie Bahan said the organization let the development rights lapse for the parcel adjacent to the new American Academy of Neurology.

“We had the development rights through a certain period of time. That expired and we made a decision not to renew,” Bahan said. “It just wasn’t feasible for us as a nonprofit. The hurdles were just too great for a non-profit developer once the county determined that the site was too far from the light rail to qualify for transit oriented development funding.”

The original plans for the development called for a six-story building that would house Artspace’s offices as well as 61 artist live-work spaces and a gallery. The organization was also exploring creating a rooftop farm with the consultation of the nearby Mill City Farmers Market.

Artspace may explore locations for a new headquarters in another area of Minneapolis in the future, but for now it will remain in the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art.

Bahan said the organization is currently focused on Jackson Flats, a 35-unit development at 1843 Jackson St. N.E. The low-income housing project will include studio and gallery spaces, a performing art space and classrooms. It is scheduled to open in fall 2013. 

Dark & Stormy Productions wants to attract audience to live theater

Founder Sara Marsh developed the company with a younger demographic in mind, specifically theatergoers between the ages of 18 and 35.

“We’re focusing on an age group and a demographic that’s not present, and it’s a nationwide epidemic,” Marsh said. “In talking to people in that demographic, they often feel like [theater] is not for them.”

Dark & Stormy turns theater into a social event, starting the evening with a short theater production followed by a reception and a local music set.

“Folks in that age group want to socialize,” Marsh said.

The inaugural show, “Outside Providence,” debuted in mid August. Written by Edward Allen Baker, the show consists of three one-acts that take place in rough neighborhoods outside of Providence, R.I.

The plays deal with alcoholism, child abuse and domestic violence, breaking at rare moments for a lighthearted line or two. 

The warehouse-style downtown theater space is divided into three staging areas. Between each play, viewers move their chairs around the room to the next performance spot. The front row seats are only a foot away, at times, from the action.

“It’s a nontraditional staging in an unconventional setting,” Marsh said.

Cast members have appeared in productions at Guthrie Theater, Jungle Theater, Theatre de la Jeune Lune and Park Square Theater, among many others. 

Ticket price is currently a suggested donation of $25, or half your age for attendees under 30. 

“The point of this is to get people there and to get people interested,” Marsh said.

She said the company might set a fixed ticket price as it develops. “Outside Providence” runs through Sept. 15. The closing show features a performance by local folk trio Lingua Luna. Reserve tickets at tickets@darkstormy.org.

Uniquinox street festival returns to North Loop

NORTH LOOP — Interact presents the second-annual fall street festival Uniquinox, 1 p.m.–4 p.m. Sept. 22 in front of the Colonial Warehouse Building on 3rd Avenue North between Washington Avenue and 2nd Street West.

Uniquinox is a family-friendly visual and performing arts festival hosted by Interact, an organization for artists with physical and cognitive disabilities. The festival will have an art bazaar where local artists will display and sell their work.

Spokesperson Lori Leavitt said food trucks were expected to show up. There will be music, dance, giant puppets, masks and tricked-out umbrellas in an artist’s pageant.

“Our artists love to dance anytime there is music,” Leavitt said. “And it just invites everyone to come participate.”

Award winning hip-hop and spoken word artist Desdamona will perform at the festival.

Interact staff artist Daniel Polnau created the event to celebrate the fall season and show the public the talent of Interact and other local artists that will make appearances. 

Leavitt said around 500 people showed up last year. He said he was hopeful this year would start a trend of continued growth for coming years.

Magic shows, balloon animals, caricature drawings and art cars are just a few of the family activities for people to enjoy.

“It’s a great and wonderful way to bring the neighborhood out and to celebrate the fall in a family friendly environment,” Leavitt said.

Interact was founded in 1996 and describes itself as a radically inclusive adult day program with a focus on visual and performing arts.

Solar Arts Building marks grand opening

LOGAN PARK — The Solar Arts Building, where Indeed Brewing Company opened this month, will hold its grand opening Sept. 6 to officially introduce the space and all of its tenants to neighbors.

The former manufacturing building, which draws its name from its 25 artist tenants and its 108 rooftop solar panels, was purchased last year by Duane Arens, who refurbished the space and began renting out units earlier this year. The space already was 50 percent full by early summer, and Arens said it would reach 100-percent capacity once he found a tenant to open a coffee shop in the building.

Despite the prominence of Indeed, he said he doesn’t want the brewery to overshadow the main purpose of the building.

“I’ve been telling everybody else that this is an arts building. It’s not a brewery building, and that’s how we’re going to brand it,” he said.

The building will also host the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association’s Fall Fine Art’s Show Sept. 21–30.

Caitlin Karolczak, an artist and tenant who focuses on oil painting, said Indeed drew her to the building, but so did the amount of artists compared to her old space.

“I was always alone in my old place and they’re so much more of a community here,” she said.

— Maggie Kane, Patrick Roche and Tim Sturrock contributed to this report.