Thursday, January 17, 2013

Connecting the dots

© harrington
Before the demolition, before construction started, before the recent water main break, this is the Jaguar dealership that stood on the site of the new Whole Foods mixed use development at Hennepin and Washington in Minneapolis. I believe that Minnesota could use a whole lot more mixed use development in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Spring Valley, Thief River Falls, Rochester and points in between. There's a recently completed mixed use affordable housing development I know about in Rochester. Cascade Creek Apartments received a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification from the US Green Building Council. Minnesota has a growing number of developments that are LEED certified, including commercial, residential and mixed uses. They'll help us live healthier, more energy-efficient lives in a more sustainable and resilient Minnesota. If you noticed the recent coverage on climate change, you'll understand (I hope) why that's important. Not as a LEED project, but as part of a Main Street revitalization, the downtown commercial center of a southeastern Minnesota county is pulling together mixed us renovation by combining commercial improvements on the ground floor with the rehabilitation of residential apartments on the second floor. This should put more potential customers on the street to patronize downtown businesses. It also helps provide work force housing for local employers and gives empty nesters an opportunity to get away from yard work (some love it, others don't) and snow shoveling (some love it ...). Mixed use development and infill development are challenging, usually more so than building big boxes on the outskirts. Minnesota's Environment and Energy Report Card mentions several times the need to connect the dots. Mixed use development in My Minnesota's large cities or small towns is about as dot-connected as it gets.