The Minneapolis City Council has unanimously approved a plan to assess Hennepin Avenue property owners up to $3.6 million for an extensive beautification project on the avenue's 5th Street to 10th Street stretch.
The plan will include trees, benches, ornamental lighting, sidewalk paving stones, newspaper stands and bike racks. Many Hennepin property owners see the effort as a way to beautify and unite the burgeoning entertainment district. Tom Hoch, a streetscape supporter and official of the Historic Theater Group, which manages the State and Orpheum Theaters on Hennepin, said council support was needed so benefited properties will be required to pay for the amenities and their upkeep.
"It's significant," said Councilmember Sandy Colvin Roy of the council vote. "We're getting $3.6 million worth of private investment on Hennepin."
Hoch said construction will tentatively begin by summer's end, though a Spring 2003 start is also possible. He added that streetscape improvements will first be visible on Block E, in conjunction with the 600 Hennepin Ave. project's scheduled opening this August.
Hoch said the project will eventually include light-pole banners. Hoch's group will need to go back to the council for a sign ordinance that will, in his words "permit bright, moving signage like Times Square has -- the 'signage as entertainment thing.'"