My first address in Minnesota was 822 6th St. SE, a wonderful rented part of a duplex on the outskirts of Dinkytown. That house is now gone, becoming part of the properties taken for the I-35W freeway. I thought of it again with the discussion of a possibility of a noise wall along 35W. (One of the houses whose residents were being notified was 820 6th St. SE.)
Another more immediate threat to the very heart of Dinkytown is the proposed Opus residential housing project at 5th St. and 14th Ave. Although my immediate interest is this threat close to the heart of an area central to the lives of so many university students and associates over generations, spot zoning is a threat to other neighborhoods in the city as well.
Affordable only to the well-off
This proposal would tear down the Podium, the Book House, House of Hansen and other small businesses to build a six-story upscale “dormitory-style” complex only affordable to well-off university students. (Yes, the famed Al’s Breakfast could be next.) In essence, it will be like so many others, which are at least farther from the heart of Dinkytown and in Stadium Village. This project would essentially be upscale housing that reduces diversity and doesn’t meet the needs of the wider economic diversity of students trying to afford a university education.
This project cannot happen unless the members of the Minneapolis City Council approve the impactful spot zoning change from C1 (small scale neighborhood commercial uses) to C3A (higher density mixed use commercial and housing) for this half block area of Dinkytown.
Further negative effects would be the likely domino effect on the rest of Dinkytown, the loss of small business, and the glorification of development without planning. Several actions are under way that should precede this, including a Dinkytown small area plan and an update of the Marcy-Holmes master plan. One developer should not dictate the future of Dinkytown.
Efforts to counter this travesty include a petition drive at SaveDinkytown.com and a resolution passed at the Minneapolis DFL city convention.
Domino effect is real
Every City Council member should consider the negative effects of this precedent. Small locally owned businesses add to the cultural, historic and aesthetic qualities of C1 districts throughout the city. The domino effect is real. What will be a plausible excuse to stop the next one? Perhaps in your favorite area?
The Zoning and Planning committee voted against the required zoning change after a strong speech in opposition from Council Member Diane Hofstede. The full council needs to uphold the committee decision on Friday.
DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn represents Minneapolis District 60B in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
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