Community notebook: New tourism brand

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November 7, 2011 // UPDATED 8:21 am - November 7, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss and Drew Kerr
Jeremy Zoss and Drew Kerr
Minneapolis unveils new tourism brand

After nearly a year of development with agency Preston Kelly, Meet Minneapolis, the convention and visitors association, has revealed a new brand and tagline for the city: “Minneapolis: City by Nature.”

The new slogan was revealed alongside a new logo and a new website, Minneapolis.org on Oct. 27. The goal of the initiative is to increase visitors to Minneapolis by 300,000 annually, which Meet Minneapolis says could add up to 500 hospitality jobs in the city. The city currently takes in $6 billion annually from visitors, which supports 27,000 jobs.

Speaking at the press conference, Mayor R.T. Rybak cited jobs as the main reason for the push for more tourism.

“One of the most important things we can do is bring more people to Minneapolis,” said Rybak. “To do that, we have to get known better.”

Meet Minneapolis will launch the new ad campaign in both national and regional publications, with the goal of attracting visitors from across the country and within the state. To get the word out locally, Meet Minneapolis is hosting an interactive showcase of some of the city’s most iconic locations. QR Codes have been spray-chalked at the Stone Arch Bridge, Target Field, the Guthrie, the IDS Center and the Convention Center. While they last, scanning the codes opens a virtual tour of the location.

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At last, a tenant for the Shinders space


HENNEPIN — It has stood empty since 2007, but there are finally signs of life at the former Shinders space at 8th & Hennepin. High-profile local design firm Shea Inc. has signed a 10-year lease for the space and hopes to move in by July.

Shea plans to occupy about 1,000 square feet of the lower floor and the complete second floor. A restaurant will occupy the remainder of the two-story building, but negotiations with the restaurant tenant are still ongoing, said Andy McDermott, Shea’s communications director.

“We’re obviously not directly involved with the lease negotiations but we’re playing a part and hopefully we’ll be part of the design team for what goes there,” said McDermott. Shea has designed or consulted on many of the best-known restaurant and retail spaces on Hennepin Avenue, as well as many recent and upcoming projects. With the lease on the firm’s current Butler Square space about to expire, finding a new 
location on Hennepin made a great deal of sense.

“We’ve really had our hand in a lot of stuff on this stretch of Hennepin,” said McDermott. “Right now we’ve started on the Butcher & The Boar, and we’ve got the Lunds project that we’re working on. But over the last 10 years we’ve had Chambers, Seven, Solera, we’ve worked with the Hennepin Theater Trust, we just did the new Century Theatre. We’ve worked with Fogo de Chao, and Rosa Mexicano and so after encouraging so many of our clients to come to Hennepin, it made sense for us to get in the mix too.”

Shea will restore the brick exterior of the building, as well as the terrazzo floors that have Snyders logos from the building’s former life as a pharmacy.

Before Shinders moved its store from 6th & Hennepin to the space, it was a Burger King. At one point, a three-story building stood on the site, but it was demolished to build the current structure. McDermott believes the original building may have burned down.

McDermott says that Shea’s move to Hennepin Avenue is a small step in the continued revitalization of the street.

“It’s known as the main drag but there hasn’t been a lot of activity there,” he said. “People like Fogo come in and they’re one of the top grossing restaurants in the state, that just shows that things can be successful and viable on this stretch. The more people that come, the more people that will.”

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Found Footage Festival returns 
to Minneapolis

CENTRAL — What once was lost has now been found — and become the subject of a wildly popular magazine and film festival that is coming to Minneapolis.

Creators of Found Magazine and the Found Footage Festival, which feature discovered notes and film, are appearing on Nov. 14 at the Heights Theatre in what organizers describe as a “battle royale of found stuff.”

Found Magazine, created by Davy Rothbart, is published annually and contains notes and letters found on the ground, submitted from around the world. The Found Footage Festival was created by Rothbart’s brother, Peter Rothbart, in 1994 as a way to promote those discoveries, and place them side-by-side with tapes collected from garage sales, thrift stores, dumpsters and other unlikely places.

Tickets to the Nov. 14 show, which begins at 7 p.m. at the 3951 Central Ave. NE theatre, cost $13 and can be purchased at footagefest.com or at the door. Part of the admission will go to benefit the Independent Feature Project Minnesota.

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Thomas Edison High School is going green


WINDOM PARK — School officials in October unveiled a new 1-kilowatt solar energy system that sits on the roof of the school’s gymnasium and will allow the facility to reduce its annual carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 3,000 pounds.  

Clyde Kane, the assistant director of facilities for Minneapolis Public Schools, said the system could also be expected to save the school up to $1,200 a year in energy costs.

The solar system was purchased by St. Paul-based medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific, which will use their gift as part of a “socially responsible media” campaign.

The solar system will not just provide energy but also be used as an educational tool for students at the high school. A solar energy curriculum was recently developed after the district installed larger systems at Pillsbury Elementary School, Olson Middle School, Seward Montessori School and South High School.

“This project is significant because it provides an opportunity for Thomas Edison to expand its science curriculum to include solar energy and supports one of our key values which is to be environmentally sustainable,” superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said.

No other Minneapolis public schools currently have solar panels, and there are no definite plans for additional installations at this time. Kane said the new systems will allow the district to evaluate their efficacy and determine whether larger projects should be pursued, however.

“This gives us a good chance to look at solar on a smaller basis to see if we would be more comfortable using it in the future,” he said.

Kane said he hoped that other private partners would step forward to support the effort.

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Hollywood Theatre back in business

JOHNSON STREET NE — The long vacant Hollywood Theatre is showing signs of new life.

The local theatre company Savage Umbrella is performing at the Johnson Street venue in November, the second theatre performance to be staged at the long vacant site this year. The space has also been used recently as a backdrop for a photo shoot, a music video and a film.

Miles Mercer, who is serving as the city’s project coordinator for the site, said the uses act as interim measures to draw attention to the property, which served as a movie theatre but has been vacant since 1987.

“While we seek a permanent redevelopment of the building, we realize there are things we can do in the meantime to bring attention to the property,” Mercer said.

Although there are no definite redevelopment plans in place now, Mercer said there are several interested developers and that he remains optimistic about the site. The asking price is $275,000, and includes an adjacent vacant property.

“I’m optimistic that we’re going to find something,” Mercer said.

Savage Umbrella’s show, The Ravagers, opened on Friday, Nov. 4 and continues through Wednesday, Nov. 19. The show is loosely based on the Greek play The Suppliants, by Aeschylus.

Organizers of the production say the Hollywood Theatre was chosen because it was a sparse space perfectly suited to the show. The company is using the main auditorium for the majority of its production, but a few scenes will also be performed in the lobby.

“We chose the Hollywood because we wanted a location that felt isolated, dilapidated and once-beautiful, to match the subject matter of the play,” said Laura Leffler-McCabe, the show’s playwright and artistic director.

Leffler-McCabe said the company was looking at warehouse spaces in the Arts District, but became aware of the Hollywood Theatre during Art-A-Whirl. The company had to work with the city before moving into the space, which lacks plumbing and needs a host of other repairs.

The space passed inspection in order to accommodate the performance.

Mercer, of the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, said the space could accommodate similar arts uses in the future, but there are no definite plans at this time. Officials ultimately hope the space will be used for commercial purposes.

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Officials move ahead with plans to improve I-35W access

Plans to improve access to Interstate 35W in Northeast are moving forward, and officials expect construction to begin early next year.  

The $13 million plan involves the construction of a new northbound ramp onto northbound I-35W from 4th Street South, and a new northbound interstate lane from University Avenue SE to Johnson Street exit designed to reduce the need to merge while traveling between the exits.

Officials say the project is intended to help relieve traffic on Washington Avenue South, 4th Street South and University Avenue, which are often clogged with vehicles trying to get onto the interstate.

Neighborhood residents met with local officials in late October to discuss the plans, and have expressed concerns that traffic on Johnson Street could increase because of the new plans.

“Whatever they’re doing, we don’t want more traffic on Johnson,” said Steve Sylvester, the chair of the Windom Park Citizens in Action board of directors.

Project manager Nick Peterson, the project manager for Hennepin County, said those concerns arose because of a misconception that the Stinson Boulevard ramp would be closed. That is not the case, he said.

Peterson said the county hopes to obtain approval for the project from the Minneapolis City Council as early as November and to solicit bids in February 2012. Construction would then begin as early as April with an estimated completion date of November 2012.

The project is being paid for with a $9 million state grant, as well as county and city funding.

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Explore the Mississippi through Great River Outings

RIVERFRONT — The Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership launched its 2011 season of Great River Outings Oct. 19, offering chances to explore the Mississippi River as it runs through the city.

The outings run through Dec. 31 and feature forums and tours designed to educate about conservation and river revitalization. The Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to revitalizing the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis.

For more information and a calendar of events, visit minneapolisriverfrontpartnership.org.

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Arab Film Festival begins Nov. 10

CENTRAL — Murmurs of the Arab Spring will be heard at Heights Theatre this month during the “art in revolution”-themed seventh annual Arab Film Festival, put on by Mizna, an Arab-American nonprofit arts organization based in Northeast.

The festival features films from Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, United Arab Emirates and other places.

The film “18 Days” opens the festival. It is a collection of 10 shorts about the Egyptian Revolution and the protests in Tahrir Square. Panel discussions prior to the screenings will discuss the Arab revolutions and uprisings that took place this year.

Other films will include “Algeria, Images of a Fight,” by the French filmmaker Jerome Laffont and “The Koran: Back to the Origins of the Book,” a documentary by Bruno Ulmer discussing the history of the holy book.

The festival runs Nov. 10–13 at Heights Theatre, 3951 Central Ave. N.E. Passes are $40 in advance or $50 at the door. Tickets for individual showings are $10. A $2 low-income or student discount is offered. For more information and a complete schedule go to mizna.org/arabfilmfest11.

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‘Give to the Max Day’ is Nov. 16

GiveMN.org is having its third annual “Give to the Max Day” on Nov. 16.

The fundraising marathon is designed to raise as much money as possible for the state’s nonprofits. In 2010, 42,596 donors participated in the fundraising campaign and more than $10 million was raised for Minnesota nonprofits.

Fundraising starts midnight at Nov. 16 and ends midnight Nov. 17. For more details, go to giveMN.org.