Nicollet Mall between 8th and 9th streets, home to the US Bancorp Center, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, Zelo and Snacks and Franks, among others, has been designated 2004's fairest block on the mall.
Volunteer judges working on behalf of Nicollet Mall's property owners judged the blocks on a monthly basis last summer, keeping tabs of landscaping and overall maintenance.
Nicollet Mall Volunteer Coordinator Brian Fesler, director of special affairs for the Church of Scientology, 1011 Nicollet Mall, organized the contest and year-end award ceremony held earlier this month at the Hyatt Regency, 1300 Nicollet Mall.
"Judges frequently commented on how great the flowers looked when they were marking high scores or, conversely, we would see low scores where there were no flowers or, worse yet, weeds or dead plants," Fesler said. "Outdoor restaurants drew high praise for their flowery displays. Litter did not show up very much as a problem in judges' comments -- there were several comments about how nice the Mall was looking."
The second prettiest block award went to the stretch of Nicollet Mall between 12th and 13th streets, which is home to the Westminster Presbyterian Church, among others. The block took top honors in the 2003 contest, switching places with this year's winner, which ranked second last year.
The 614 Company, a real estate strategies firm located in the Young Quinlan building, 81 S. 9th St., was also honored with the 2004 "Friend of the Mall" award for its employees' contributions toward improving the mall's aesthetic.
Maintenance improvements highlighted this year at the awards ceremony include the repair of Elliot Offner's Three Bird Fountain between 9th and 10th streets and the removal of the Morrison mosaic in front of the IDS Tower, 80 S. 8th St. Water had been leaking through the mosaic into the basement of the IDS.
The mosaic will be placed near the New Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall.
Here's how the other blocks ranked:
- Third place: between 13th and Grant streets -- the Hyatt Regency and Millennium hotels;
- Fourth place: between 9th and 10th streets -- the Target store, the Local, Starbucks and Crate & Barrel;
- Fifth place: between 11th and 12th streets -- the Peavey Plaza, Brit's Pub, Caribou Coffee and the YWCA, among others;
- Sixth place: between 10th and 11th streets -- the Target corporate headquarters, WCCO television, the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant and Key's Caf/, among others;
- Seventh place: between 6th and 7th streets -- City Center and the Gaviidae Common shopping center;
- Eighth place: between 7th and 8th streets -- the Radisson Plaza Hotel, Marshall Field's and the IDS Tower, among others;
- Ninth place: between 5th and 6th streets -- Chipotle, Neiman Marcus, among others;
- 10th place: between Washington Avenue and 3rd Street -- the Cancer Survivors Park;
- 11th place: between 4th and 5th streets -- Xcel Energy and Walgreens Drug Store; and
- 12th place: between 3rd and 4th streets -- the New Central library under construction.
A committee of the Nicollet Mall Advisory Board, which reports to the City Council, started the contests in 2003 after a shift in maintenance responsibilities. The mall's property owners take responsibility for upkeep and landscaping, while the city's Public Works crews focus on street maintenance and other heavier-duty deferred maintenance work.
Nicollet Mall is one of the city's special assessment districts, which means property owners pay additional taxes for extra city services.