What\'s going on in some of the downtown area neighborhoods and notes from Neighborhood meetings.
Rybak seeks early redevelopment money for 3 city sites Mayor R.T. Rybak has earmarked $150,000 to plan reusing the area around the Downtown Farmer's Market/Impound Lot -- part of a $500,000 predevelopment fund he created in the city's 2004 bonding bill.
Rybak also budgeted $150,000 for predevelopment costs of the Upper Harbor Terminal, 41 acres along the Mississippi River in North Minneapolis near Dowling Avenue, and $200,000 for South Lyndale Avenue between the Crosstown Highway and Minnehaha Creek.
"This predevelopment fund is about helping us look at these larger development opportunities that would require infrastructure, like roads or transit," the mayor said.
Redeveloping the Farmers Market/Impound Lot site, near I-94 west of Downtown, would improve the connection between North Minneapolis' Heritage Park housing redevelopment, Downtown and South Minneapolis, he said.
No department requested the money. The Capital Long-range Improvement Committee (CLIC), a citizens' group that reviews borrowing projects, did not review it. Rybak said he would like CLIC to review such predevelopment proposals in the future.
The predevelopment fund is part of Rybak's effort to leave a mark, even in cash-strapped times. "I do believe there are large legacy projects we should begin," he said.
Each area slated for predevelopment money would need some infrastructure improvements before the city could turn over projects to a developer, Rybak said. He also mentioned using the fund to plan for redevelopment along the Midtown Greenway.
City Councilmember Dan Niziolek (10th Ward) criticized the plan, saying the city shouldn't fund individual projects until it had a comprehensive citywide transportation plan. Niziolek also questioned the wisdom of borrowing money to pay for planning, something he said belonged in the annual budget.
Rybak agreed the city needed a comprehensive transportation plan.
"I am rock solid in favor of it," he told Niziolek. "I just don't want to wait a year" to start a few projects.
The Council must approve Rybak's proposal. It will vote in December. -- Scott Russell
Loring Park will burn -- intentionally The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will burn the fringe area around Loring Pond soon to control aggressive cattails and invasive plants such as reed canary grass and buckthorn.
Shanna Hendrickson, a natural resources coordinator, said the controlled burn could start as early as Monday Nov. 3 but was weather-dependent. The Park Board burns when the temperature is between 40 and 60 degrees, the humidity is low and wind speeds are no more than 12 mph, she said.
The Park Board does controlled burns throughout the system every year. It last burned in Loring Park in 1996, she said. "It is due."
The burn would last a day or two, Hendrickson said. The smoke output depends on the vegetation.
The Park Board has more information on controlled burning on its Web site, www.minneapolisparks.org (type "controlled burns" in the search box.) People with respiratory problems can be notified the day of the burn. To get on the list, call 313-7702. -- Scott Russell
Elliot Park site to become homeless youth shelter Plans are afoot to convert Downtown's old St. Barnabas Hospital, founded in 1871, to a supportive housing facility for homeless youth and low-income working adults.
The old hospital is located between the Hennepin County Medical Center and the Metrodome at 920 S. 7th St. The project developer, Central Community Housing Trust (CCHT), hopes to fill the gap in housing options for homeless youth. According to a fact sheet provided by the nonprofit, 1,000 youth in Twin Cities are homeless.
The Twin Cities metro area has 70 overnight shelter beds and 221 transitional housing beds serving homeless youth.
The St. Barnabas supportive housing facility would have 39 apartments for homeless youth. The tenants would be expected to pay rent equal to 30 percent of their monthly income.
Another 13 units would be reserved for low-income working adults. Those apartments would cost $500 a month.
Construction on the $7.2 million project is scheduled to begin in a few weeks, said Nancy Doyle, CCHT communications manager. The old hospital is expected to be ready for tenants one year after construction begins, she said.
"This will address a shortage in housing options for youth who are not able to live with their families," Doyle said.
Funding for the project is coming from a variety of private and public sources, including the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, the University of St. Thomas and the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, among others.
The building has been vacant for several decades, Doyle said. Allina Hospitals and Clinics donated the old hospital for the project. -- Sarah McKenzie