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Ambitious plan would turn Hennepin into Minneapolis’ cultural ‘main street’

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CC/Flickr/Mulad
By 2025, the two-mile stretch of Hennepin Avenue from the Mississippi River to the Walker Art Center could become the main street of a cultural center extending several blocks on each side of Hennepin.

By 2025, the two-mile stretch of Hennepin Avenue from the Mississippi River to the Walker Art Center could become the main street of a cultural center extending several blocks on each side of Hennepin.

“Hennepin is a great street but disconnected,” said Tom Hoch, president and CEO of the Hennepin Theater Trust. So far, nearly 1,500 people have been involved in discussions and workshops to explore what Hennepin Avenue might become.

The Hennepin Cultural District — they are looking for a better name for the area — will be working to make this area a magnet to draw city residents and visitors downtown.

“There is a lot of community engagement around this,” said Hoch, stressing that work has only begun.

The two-year plan includes launching a “No Vacancy” initiative for downtown that would turn vacant and under-used real estate into artist-led activities, galleries and performance spaces.

Also included is a project to develop downtown spaces where artists could live and work.  The plan also calls for murals to dress up blank walls, green spaces and artist-designed street furniture.

The area where Hennepin and Lyndale turn and head south is “just crying for a great artistic project,” said the Walker’s Olga Viso, who has been part of the planning process.

In February, the Minneapolis City Council is expected to consider endorsing the creation of a cultural district.

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