The vision of a vibrant, burgeoning downtown Minneapolis that consciously plans and works to encompass culture, nurture green space, develop transit, combat homelessness and sustain wise residential growth is embraced in the new Downtown 2025 Plan.
Recently summarized in The Journal, Downtown 2025 is an initiative led by the Minneapolis Downtown Council that includes input from a cadre of talented business and community leaders and sets bold goals for the city to achieve in the next 13 years. The plan connects downtown’s assets, such as the historic and new theatres, museums and galleries, educational institutions, the riverfront, businesses, sports venues, restaurants and transportation hubs, to create a flourishing 21st-century city. Once this vision is realized, Minneapolis will be an even better place to live, work and play.
I was thrilled to serve on Downtown 2025’s Entertainment and Hospitality Subcommittee with arts and business leaders including Olga Viso of the Walker Art Center, Michael Henson from the Minnesota Orchestra, Ralph Burnet, the business visual arts entrepreneur, and Dave St. Peter, Minnesota Twins’ president.
We have been told that Hennepin Avenue can deliver an “uneven” experience, changing radically from block to block. The plan’s call to utilize arts and culture to provide a more coherent and cohesive experience is welcomed and necessary to connect downtown’s many assets, weaving everything into a 24-hour, multi-faceted, energized place.
Our 2025 Subcommittee recognized that arts and culture are essential ingredients in creating a downtown that provides a consistently engaging experience. We explicitly recognized the need to “leverage [our] impressive cultural assets in a way that builds a more beautiful, compelling and prosperous city center.”
How will we do that? As the plan states, we’ll “Establish an arts corridor to bring visibility and focus to the creative community.” Planning for this “arts corridor” is precisely the work being undertaken by the Walker Art Center, Artspace Projects and Hennepin Theatre Trust as part of a recent National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant for Hennepin Avenue.
From the feedback the Trust and our partners have gathered so far, we’ve heard that people want beautiful and intelligent development. Comments include the desire for “pocket parks,” additional green space, water elements, public art, “small funky restaurants,” traffic limits, safe and walkable streets, convenient transportation and “modern, hip, yet clean, streetscaping … to contrast the historic buildings and show how Minneapolis can blend the old and new.”
Revitalizing our downtown is a long-term process that requires both vision and a commitment to staying the course. It’s larger than any single big project, yet it needs to take into account the smallest of opportunities to create the diversity of scale that will make our Avenue both interesting and sustainable.
The Downtown 2025 Plan provides renewed momentum behind the notion that if we want a great downtown, we can have one. You can help impact that future today by contributing your ideas for a cultural corridor along Hennepin Avenue. Please take a few moments to visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org and the related “Plan-It Hennepin” Facebook page to share your vision for a better downtown.
Tom Hoch is President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust, the nonprofit owner of the historic Orpheum, State, Pantages and newly developed New Century Theatres, devoted to enriching the vibrant cultural atmosphere of the Twin Cities.
For more information on the Downtown 2025 Plan, go to downtownmpls.com.