Year in review: 13 memorable stories of 2013

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December 23, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Margaret Miles hugs Mayor R.T. Rybak. Miles and Cathy ten Broeke were the first same-sex couple married by the mayor Aug. 1 at City Hall.
Sarah McKenzie

Obama visits Mpls

President Barack Obama made a stop in North Minneapolis on Feb. 4 to promote his gun control agenda. Surrounded by about 75 Minneapolis police officers and Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputies, Obama said: “If we’re serious about preventing the kind of tragedies that happened in Newtown, or the tragedies that happen every day in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia or Minneapolis, then law enforcement and our community leaders must have a seat at the table.”

Marriage equality becomes law

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the same-sex marriage bill into law on the steps of the state Capitol on May 14, making Minnesota the 12th state in the national to legalize gay marriage. The vote came six months after Minnesota voters defeated a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would have banned same-sex marriage.

Vikings stadium design revealed

A glassy new design was revealed for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium on May 13. The $975 million stadium, slated to open in 2016, will feature a clear roof and the largest pivoting doors in the world. The designer on the project is HKS Architects Inc.

Major makeover planned for Downtown East 

Just one day after HKS Architects Inc. unveiled the design of the new Vikings stadium, developer Ryan Cos. Inc. revealed a $400 million, five-block development plan near the new Vikings stadium on May 14. The proposal calls for two new office towers for Wells Fargo, a two-block park, retail and housing on land owned by the Star Tribune. “The dog days are over for downtown east,” Mayor R.T. Rybak said at a news conference near the development site.

Rybak marries 46 same-sex couples at City Hall

 Mayor Rybak married 46 same-sex couples at City Hall on Aug. 1 — the day the marriage equality law took effect. Cathy ten Broeke and Margaret Miles were the first couple married by Rybak. They were joined by their 5-year-old son Louie for their wedding and wore the same dresses they did at their wedding 12 years ago at a church in the Whittier neighborhood. When Miles emphasized the word “lawfully” when she took ten Broeke to be her “lawfully wedded wife,” the crowd at City Hall cheered with excitement.

Rybak proposes first tax cut in tenure

In his final budget speech of his 12-year tenure, Rybak proposed a 1 percent cut in city property taxes for the 2014 city budget. The tax cut is the first proposed for city property taxes in 30 years. City leaders pointed to three factors that made the tax cut possible: the city got an additional $12 million in Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state, Rybak and the Council created a property tax relief fund with money saved in 2012, and sales and hospitality taxes are growing at a faster pace because of an improving economy. 

Orchestra saga continues  

Renovations to makeover Orchestra Hall were wrapped up in early September. The $50 million renovation project expanded the lobby area and features larger windows that make the performance hall more visible to the public and the city’s skyline more noticeable for patrons. Meanwhile, orchestra musicians and management remain mired in a protracted labor dispute.

Plan for streetcar line advances

The Minneapolis City Council approved a resolution Oct. 4 supporting a plan for a 3.4-mile streetcar line that would run from Lake Street to 5th Street Northeast and cross the river on the Hennepin Avenue Bridge. The line is expected to have 9,200 riders a week. It would cost between $180 and $200 million and have an estimated operating/maintenance cost of $10.6 million. Earlier in the year the Council voted to approve a financing tool that establishes a Value Capture District along the line. The tool would allow the city to tap taxes generated from five parcels along the line, which would enable the city to issue $60 million in bonds. 

New design team selected to redesign Nicollet Mall 

The City Council approved making James Corner Field Operations the design team to work on a redesign of Nicollet Mall on Oct. 4. The New York City-based urban design and landscape architecture group competed against 19 other firms from around the world to work on the project. City leaders will need to secure private funding and state bonding to make the redesign a reality.

Lynx win again  

The Minnesota Lynx won their second WNBA championship on Oct. 10 after sweeping the Atlanta Dream in a three-game sweep. A few days later thousands of fans lined Nicollet Mall to celebrate the team’s victory.

Voters elect new member, seven new Council members

Minneapolis voters elected City Council Member Betsy Hodges (Ward 13) mayor of Minneapolis and seven new members to the 13-member City Council on Nov. 5. Hodges was officially declared mayor shortly after 10 p.m. on Nov. 7 after 33 rounds of counting. Hodges prevailed in the mayor’s race that attracted a record 35 candidates. It was the city’s first major test of the ranked choice voting system, which allowed voters to rank up to three candidates. Hodges received 38,870 votes. Former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew was the second top vote getter.

Block E makeover revealed

The owners of Block E announced plans Nov. 25 for a major makeover of the entertainment complex. RSP Architects has been selected to design a more modern exterior and new interior spaces for the beleaguered property. “We want to transform Block E into a modern and positive contributor to downtown’s built environment,” said David Serrano, senior associate with RSP Architects. “Our goal with the redesign is to clearly state that Block E has changed.” The renovations are expected to be complete by late 2014.

Rybak throws a farewell party

Mayor Rybak enjoyed one last crowd surf as mayor Dec. 18 at First Avenue for his “Unauguration” celebration party. Surrounded by his family on the stage, Rybak thanked the people of Minneapolis for having faith in him and electing him to three terms as mayor. He also proclaimed Kevin Kling the “story laureate” of Minneapolis. Rybak’s term officially ends mid-afternoon on Jan. 2 when Betsy Hodges is sworn in as mayor.

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New Year’s resolutions for Mpls in 2014 

As you consider personal resolutions for the new year, I urge you to also reflect on what could make Minneapolis a stronger city in 2014. If you could create a wish list for the city, what would you put on the list? Send your New Year’s resolutions for Minneapolis to smckenzie@mnpubs.com, tweet us @thejournalmpls or post on our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/DTJournal.