Monday, November 28, 2011

New Mural at Plymouth and Washington!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Many NoMi-ites have watched a mural slowly make its way across the north end of the building off the northwest corner of Plymouth Ave N and Washington Ave N.  If anyone has more information about the mural or the artist, please share.  For now, at least it's better than what you see when you turn north coming off the freeway exit.

More pictures after the jump...

The 411 on How LRT Impacts Streetcars in NoMi

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the city's Streetcar Final Report.

At last month's meeting to discuss possible LRT routes along Penn or Oliver as alternatives to the "D1" route that would go through Theo Wirth to Highway 55, I asked a very specific question of our moderators.  How would the various D2 options affect the proposed streetcar alignment along West Broadway?

After all, numerous streetcar corridors were proposed and only a few were approved.  The approval process was based on some rather objective criteria, such as cost and total ridership.  The streetcar route along West Broadway would go from downtown up Washington to Broadway, and then up to the Robbinsdale Transit Center.  If light rail comes down Broadway to Penn, then the proposed streetcar line would presumably stop at that intersection.  And if that were to happen, then the ridership on the streetcars could drop to a point where the Broadway alignment no longer qualifies.

Aside from the appropriate preservation of housing, my other main desire for LRT in or around NoMi is that we don't eliminate other viable transit network options.  So when I asked Bobby Joe Champion and Ray Dehn whether the D2 routes would affect streetcar proposals at all, and if so then how, their answer was...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Buy in NoMi on Small Business Saturday

Post and image by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image initially from the West Broadway Business & Area Coalition.

If you believe the big box retail industry, customers are clamoring for earlier and earlier opening times for Black Friday.  And in their benevolence, they have responded by taking their employees away from their families on a holiday so that stores can open at midnight as Thanksgiving turns to Black Friday.  Remember, they're doing it just for you!

Or if you're like me, you can express disgust by closely tracking which stores open at midnight, and vowing not to shop at any of them in between November 25th and December 31st.  And if that's the case, you may be looking for deals at your local small retailers.  If any other local businesses want to be written about here, use the comment section or contact me.  The West Broadway Business Coalition sent out an email listing deals from NoMi businesses on Saturday, November 26th.

The deals are as follows (click for more, as the deals aren't fully shown in the image above)...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Do We Want the Central Corridor on Penn or Oliver?

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Yesterday I was in St. Paul and snapped these pictures near University and Snelling.  While it can be unfair to judge a project before it's complete, these pictures do give us an idea of what LRT could look like coming down Penn or Oliver.  Is this really a good fit in NoMi?

LRT does cut off plenty of cross streets.  Even on a commercial corridor like University Avenue, I'm not so sure this is a good idea.  Along a residential corridor, the effects would be even more dramatic.  I've been reading up on walkable communities, and believe the LRT would either decrease walking along the corridor or it would increase pedestrian accidents.  Yes, people can walk an extra block or few to the handful of designated crossings, but will they really?  I can think of any number of scenarios, from a tired grandmother to an anxious kid to a scrapper with a baby carriage full of stolen copper where people will cross wherever they think is convenient.  And we certainly don't want grandma or the grandkids to get hit by a train.

So I encourage neighbors to take a hard look at the University Avenue corridor.  That's what we'll have in NoMi if any of the D2 options come to pass.  LRT can do many excellent things to revitalize a community, but I don't think those fit along the D2 route here.

Upcoming Events from Mississippi Riverfront Partnership

Here are upcoming events along the Mississippi River:

Sunday, Nov. 13         

Great River Outing: 

Gems Along the Mississippi River Trail
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.                        
Co-hosted with AFCAC
Join the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership on a walk with park historian David Smith, Commissioner Liz Wielinski, and Marshall Terrace resident and AFCAC co-facilitator Mary Jamin Maguire to visit three riverfront park gems: Marshall Terrace, Edgewater, and Gluek Riverside.

We will follow Marshall Street Northeast, formerly the Red River Oxcart Trail, and now the multi-state Mississippi River Trail. On the route are the Lowry Bridge and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization headquarters - both currently under construction. 

We will discuss the Above the Falls and the RiverFIRST plans to complete a continuous riverfront park and trails for walking and biking, connecting these riverfront parks. 

We will conclude with a visit to the Sample Room for a treat and conversation.

Click HERE to register for our Gems Along the Mississippi River tour. 

Tuesday, Nov. 29                        
Upper River Forum: (Topic TBD)
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.                        
Co-hosted with AFCAC; 
at MPRB, 2117 West River Road

Hear about hot issues shaping the Upper Riverfront. Agenda in development.

Monday, Dec 5                        
Great River Outing: Tour of Graco on the Mississippi  
Requires pre-registration! Limited to 40 participants.
5:30 – 6:45 p.m.                        
at Graco, Inc.,  88 - 11th Avenue NE

Once a quiet family-owned business, Graco Inc. has become one of the world's premier manufacturers of fluid-handling equipment and systems. It has pioneered technology and equipment for a wide variety of fluid handling applications.

Consider, for instance, that Graco equipment:
·      squeezes tomato paste onto millions of frozen pizzas,
·      pumps oil and lubricating fluids into millions of cars,
·      applies paint to homes, business and industrial installations, and
·      helps give cars made around the world their high-gloss finishes.

By successfully exploring a growing number of applications, Graco's performance in recent years has been remarkable.

Join the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership as we tour the worldwide headquarters of Graco, Inc., and learn what it means to be an engaged neighbor on the Mississippi river.

Click HERE to register for the Graco tour. 

Thursday, Dec. 8                        
Central River Forum: (Topic TBD)
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.                        
at Mill City Museum, 704 S 2nd St

Hear about hot issues shaping the Central Riverfront. Agenda in development.

Sunday, Dec. 11                        
Great River Outing: Snowshoeing North Miss
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.                        
at Carl Kroening Interpretive Center, 4900 Mississippi Ct.

Join us for a snowshoeing excursion through North Mississippi Regional Park with Minneapolis Park Board Naturalists. During our adventure we will explore areas that most people only see in summer and watch for wildlife as we tromp down to the Mississippi River.

*Snowshoes are easily strapped to boots and spread your weight over a larger distance allowing you to stay on top of the snow for easier travel. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.

Click HERE to register for Snowshoeing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Streetcars and Light Rail as Transit Options for NoMi

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

So the last post was, I admit, really not well-written.  Let's start from a little farther back in regards to northside transit options here.

Most folks may know the basics, but just to be sure:  "D1" refers to the route along the Bottineau transit corridor that would come from the northwest suburbs, down through Theo Wirth Park along existing rail lines, then connect with Highway 55 and head to downtown Minneapolis.  D1 has several advantages, in that it disrupts the least amount of housing, it doesn't cut off east/west streets, costs less, and does not take away parking.  The disadvantages would be that it does not have a connection to North Memorial, making jobs access more difficult, it wouldn't allow for as much economic development, and it would require a "feeder system" to bring residents to the light rail stops.  And people from outside of NoMi would be less likely to get onto that feeder system to come into our communities than if they got off on a light rail stop at Penn and Broadway.

"D2" refers to a variety of lines, D2a, D2b, D2c, D2d, and D2w, if I'm getting them all in.  Those options vary in terms of whether they go down either Penn or Oliver, and would need to take different amounts of housing/street right-of-way.  The purpose of the last meeting was to take a vote on which of the D2 alignments would be compared to D1.  The project is moving forward and the appropriate entities need to start doing cost and environmental/community impact comparisons.  In order to do that, they need to compare D1 with one of the D2 routes.

My notes are back in Minneapolis, so I guess this will have to be a three-part post when I return and write about which D2 route won out.  I personally favored D2w, as that would have disrupted the least amount of housing out of all D2 possibilities.  D1 still outdoes D2 in that regard.  Other D2 pros and cons are photographed above.

And although the conversations have been almost exclusively about light rail, I'm glad to see the Northside Transportation Network's website reference the northisde streetcar plan.  That's what I'll get into now...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seth Stephens and Svetlana Lang - Hawthorne's Jerks du Jour

Post and stock photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

A great house fronting Farview Park was recently listed for sale - 2951 Lyndale Avenue North.  I'm not linking directly to the listing because those links will go dead over time.  The house has an offer pending, so any day now it could be offline.  Look for it yourself on sites like Remax (even Edina Realty has the listing posted this time around).

What's so bad about selling a desirable property in one of the more attractive areas of Hawthorne, you ask?  Well, for one thing, the place has a sale price of $24,900.  That may have been a low bid to attract offers, and the final price could be considerably higher since the home is not on the VBR list.  But an interesting little tidbit is buried in the listing:  "leaded glass window on front porch excluded from listing."

I'd copy the photo from the MLS, but those are copyrighted and I'm loathe to break that rule unless it becomes absolutely necessary to report on something.  But on the listing photos, the third one in specifically shows the leaded glass window. 

So here's their thinking, as far as I can tell:  list the property at an insanely low start price.  It will sell for less than what you might get for it if you started at $80,000, but hey, it was picked up on the cheap and the seller just wants a quick buck.  So far, nothing is inherently wrong with the picture.  Until Svetlana Lang decides that she'll just take the leaded glass window for herself - a window that probably has a value of several hundred dollars or more at Bauer Brothers, and lessens the financial pain of selling at a steep discount.  By all accounts, the property appears to be owned without any liens/mortgage on it, so there isn't a way to get the mortgage company involved over the owner removing parts of the property.

The prospective buyer might not care, especially if they're either a) a slumlord or b) someone who has been fooled into thinking they need to replace all their windows.  Once a leaded glass window like this one is torn out of the home, it is rarely replaced, and certainly not with the actual original fixture.  Since Svetlana Lang or Seth K. Stephens of Solutions Realty apparently have little to no consideration for the home or community post-sale, they get the honor of "jerk du jour."

NOTE:  An initial source I consider credible listed the value of the window in question at $3,000-5,000.  Since then other readers have provided evidence that the value of such items is considerably less.  It's possible that this particular feature was worth more for some reason, but the post has been changed to reflect what I consider to be a better figure at this time.  What's the phrase at the bottom of real estate listings?  "Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed?"  Seems apropos here.  In some ways, the removal of the window seems all the more egregious when one finds out that there is only a nominal monetary gain.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Light Rail D1 or D2 is Discussed. What About Streetcars?

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Part 1 of 2 light rail posts.

Last week, the Northside Transit Network hosted a community vote on various aspects of the light rail proposal for north Minneapolis.  I've stayed away from these meetings in the past because they haven't impacted me, and there's only so many such things one can go to.  But now that I live closer to the proposed lines and am looking at buying a house even closer still, I decided I'd better go and see what's been developing.

I started the meeting by finding Rep. Champion and saying the three words politicians almost never speak or hear:  I was wrong.  When the first meetings about light rail came about, I had strongly advocated for a rail system along Penn and Broadway.  I went further by criticizing Champion for not taking a stronger stance.  But the more I look at the proposals, the more I come to believe that the "D2" options do not really serve north Minneapolis well.  I haven't seen a proposal wherein every single aspect appeals to me, but D1 is looking better and better.

Why, you ask?  One word:  streetcars.

To be sure, NoMi doesn't benefit if light rail goes through Theo Wirth and along Highway 55, UNLESS we have a strong feeder system of other kinds of transit.  And a primary component of such a system would be streetcars along West Broadway.  The city of Minneapolis realized this several years ago, when they released a report that...

Walking the River in Detroit

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

So I'm in Detroit for a policy conference.  And seeing as how it's work-related, I am hoping to put up a few posts on the Hawthorne Voices blog.  But I was walking back to the hotel after a Red Wings game, and saw this sign that needed to be pointed out.  The city of Detroit obviously has bigger problems than Minneapolis does, but yet they still make a point to advertise walking the riverfront as a desirable amenity.

You Say "Fa," I Say "Faux." We're Both Wrong.

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Ever since the Banana Blossom suffered tornado damage, I've been craving a good place to get pho here in NoMi.  After spending a week moving (without taking time off of work), my need for decent pho was at an all-time high.  Imagine my delight when I saw that the Bangkok Market has added this southeast Asian staple to their menu.

First, however, a little pronunciation lesson is in order, as I've heard several different ways to say this word.  I started out pronouncing it phonetically (see what I did there?), with a sound similar to the first half of "faux pas."  I've heard other people say fa, as in do-re-mi-fa...and only recently another friend of mine said it was pronounced "fuh."

So when I saw a sign at the Bangkok Market that said "Pho," I went in and asked for...

Friday, November 4, 2011

New Signs at Vacant Properties

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

As I was driving home from work this evening, I went past a vacant property in Hawthorne and spotted what looked like an official notice of some sort posted by the door.  Was it a foreclosure notice?  Water/gas shutoff?  Winterizing notification?  What kind of regulatory plumage awaited?

Imagine my surprise when instead, I saw...

Groups Call for Responsible Banking from Public Institutions

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, video posted on NCRC's Facebook page by Molly Glasgow, and on Youtube by ytsirkredynsMore pertinent pictures are at the NCRC Facebook page, but those have been copyrighted and I do not have permission to use them at the time of this post.

The Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition met a while back at the Minneapolis Urban League in partnership with Jewish Community Action to learn about and observe Sukkot.  We heard calls from religious leaders of many faiths as our community strives for social justice.  And then, as is our tradition over north, we put those words into action.

NCRC and other community leaders marched into the TCF branch in Cub Foods and US Bank on Broadway to present letters demanding that two sheriff sales be delayed while loan modifications are worked out.  We've employed this strategy before, albeit less directly.  The coalition frequently gathers signatures and support from community members and organizations, and send them off to banks and servicers, requesting that a foreclosure be delayed and a loan modification be put in place.

Similarly, the Occupy Minnesota movement has pressured US Bank into delaying a foreclosure date.  But pushing for loan modifications and foreclosure delays on a case-by-case basis is very inefficient and doesn't come close to saving enough people's homes.  That's why both NCRC and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) are calling for...