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Old 04-18-2011, 07:42 PM
 
400 posts, read 500,795 times
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Default Nicollet Mall Renovation

The City of Minneapolis is currently planning a major renovation of Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. According to an article in the Star Tribune from last year ("Nicollet Mall in need of a pricey makeover", by Steve Brandt, September 29, 2010), plans for the renovation are taking place this year as part of a larger planning effort to envision the downtown of the future. The article stated that those plans may be completed as early as mid-2011, with a possible 2012 state bonding request for mall renovation. On April 6, 2011, a bill (H.F. 1400) was introduced in the Minnesota legislature seeking to appropriate $20 million in bond proceeds for "Phase I renovation of Nicollet Mall". This bill, obviously, has not been passed. It hasn't been voted on yet. But this is what is happening. These are the early stages of a major renovation to Nicollet Mall that may take place within the next few years.

I could not find any information about the Nicollet Mall renovation on the City of Minneapolis' website. Aside from the Star Tribune article and the House bill, I could not find out much else about it. If anyone has more information, please discuss. I did find an additional article about the overall downtown design plan, that discusses building a park on the north end of Nicollet near Washington Avenue, and turning Washington Avenue into a tree-lined boulevard.

Since this thread is about the renovation of Nicollet Mall, what are some ideas that people have for what they would like to see done with the Mall? The Star Tribune article mentions a few things that planners are considering, such as re-paving the sidewalks with a more durable material like stamped concrete, or introducing streetcars into the Mall.

I will introduce my own suggestion, which is to remove all automobile traffic and turn the Mall into a 100% pedestrian zone. Remove the narrow, curving road that runs through the center of the Mall. Pave it over with the same material that is used on the sidewalks, creating a plaza between the buildings that is only open to pedestrians and bicyclists. This would make it more inviting for pedestrians, since they would not have to watch for traffic on the roadway. It would create more space for tables, chairs, benches, trees, plants, fountains, food vendors, street performers, etc. on the Mall.

In the current design, some of the sidewalks are very narrow at certain points (about 10 feet wide in some places). Removing the road would essentially make the entire area between the buildings into one big sidewalk. Pedestrians and bicyclists would have more room to share with people in sidewalk cafes, or people milling about in the center of the Mall. There would be room to hold events like art fairs and farmers markets, and still have room for pedestrians to pass by. It would bring the buildings on opposite sides of the Mall together, because it would be like an open air plaza rather than a road with big sidewalks.

All of the cross streets would remain open, so no block of the Mall would be more than one block from a regular street. Emergency vehicles could still drive onto the pavement if they needed to.

I think that this would be key to improving Nicollet Mall, removing the road and making it a 100% pedestrian zone. With downtown Minneapolis becoming the hub for the Twin Cities' light rail and commuter rail network, there are going to be more pedestrians arriving in downtown. The bus lanes on Marquette, Hennepin, and 2nd Avenues take away the need for buses on Nicollet.

When people think of Minneapolis, they should think of Nicollet Mall. In the same way that when people think of New York, they think of Times Square, or when people think of Chicago, they think of Michigan Avenue. It should be a destination where people want to go because they've heard so much about it. The light rail line intersects the Mall at 5th Street, so it's easy for people to get there without a car. This will be even more true as light rail expands throughout the metro area and the lines converge on downtown Minneapolis.

Links:

Nicollet Mall in need of a pricey makeover | StarTribune.com

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbi...l&session=ls87

Area businesses collaborating to create multimillion-dollar park downtown connecting to Mississippi
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
846 posts, read 761,058 times
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The sidewalks are unnecessarily large, IMO. It's not like it's ever that busy (aside from farmers markets) that such wide sidewalks are needed. Narrowing them add more of a "hustle and bustle" feeling or whatnot. On days that there are farmers markets, traffic could just be removed from the street, and the market would be in the street.

The artificial curves of the street feel pretty lame, like it's trying to be a meandering medieval street -which it's just not. It's a Midwestern city. It feels really forced, having seen plenty of old, actual winding main streets.

Bring back cars to the road, but keep it two lanes of traffic (two-way) and bring in street parking.

Street cars are a good idea.

I'm pretty surprised that it still is a "transit-mall". This was kind of a lame idea that a lot of cities implemented in the 70's and 80's to "help" downtown retail, and most (that I'm aware of) have turned away from it.
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Old 04-18-2011, 11:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FamousBlueRaincoat View Post
The artificial curves of the street feel pretty lame, like it's trying to be a meandering medieval street -which it's just not. It's a Midwestern city. It feels really forced, having seen plenty of old, actual winding main streets.

Bring back cars to the road, but keep it two lanes of traffic (two-way) and bring in street parking.

Street cars are a good idea.
I never felt that the idea was to make it feel like a medieval street. Especially since no cars are actually driving down it. In fact, for the longest time I was mostly unaware that it curved back and forth. My only thought on this was perhaps it was put in to keep bus traffic and such slower? And also alternating sidewalk width so one side has it wider on one section, then the other for patios/stands/whatever.

I also disagree with bringing traffic to Nicollet Mall. I love the fact that the Mall doesn't allow traffic. When the weather was nicer a week or so ago, I biked downtown from the U. The Twins were playing, so downtown was bustling. Traffic has mostly been very accommodating and giving me plenty of space when I'm biking, sometimes giving me a full lane. However, it was great to turn onto Nicollet off the horrible one-ways and be free. I only had to worry about taxis, a couple of buses, and some bike-taxis. Nicollet feels like a safe-haven for biking (not to mention the fact that that even before they started doing reconstruction this last week or whatever, biking was WAY smoother than any of the other torn up streets - I'm sure having less traffic has helped on that front!).

The streetcar idea really is intriguing to me. I love the concept and I think it would be great to get Nicollet and Hennepin outfitted with streetcar lines that run south (a Nicollet line perhaps running down past Eat Street and near MIA and such while a Hennepin line serving the Uptown area?). It would certainly make mass-transit in Minneapolis more appealing to a broader group of people.
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Old 04-19-2011, 06:58 AM
 
Location: South Minneapolis
396 posts, read 457,013 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xandrex View Post
I also disagree with bringing traffic to Nicollet Mall. I love the fact that the Mall doesn't allow traffic. .
Amen. For cyclists and peds it's wonderful to have one road downtown that we don't have to share.

I'm not sure what benefit would be gained from allowing cars on it.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:12 AM
 
189 posts, read 215,174 times
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Look no further than the 16th street mall in Denver. The have free, electric buses that must run every 60 seconds or so that literally just run up and down the mall. This made it so convenient for my wife and I to get through downtown. More importantly, this kept business strong, every store I went into (which was at 2:00 in the afternoon on a weekday) had plenty of people, I must have waited in line at Jamba Juice for 15 minutes.

Nicollet mall should study this strategy, and make baby steps. Eliminate all cabs, and start with buses running every 3 minutes or so, and as more businesses arrive and people take to the concept, they can add more buses. For me as a tourist, it was easy. I didn't have to worry about bus numbers, or timing. Literally just wait on any street corner, you could always see the next bus in sight. The mall's not that big, you wouldn't need that many buses at the end of the day.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:56 AM
 
Location: South Minneapolis
396 posts, read 457,013 times
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It would be nice to sit outside at Brits and not have to breath bus and car fumes.
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Laggard View Post
It would be nice to sit outside at Brits and not have to breath bus and car fumes.
I don't know if streetcars generally use electrification or diesel or whatever, but if they are electrified, this would be another great reason.

But like I said before, I still want bikes and buses (or streetcars).

What would be great, actually, is to SLIGHTLY widen the road for bike lanes. I know it's not very feasible, but my only gripe with Nicollet Mall for biking is that you typically get caught behind buses going VERY slow and make a stop every other block, plus traffic lights. If you want to get anywhere quick, you generally have to cut into the opposite lane and dodge in front of the bus. That said, it's not a huge deal and it's pretty unlikely to see bike-only lanes.
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:07 AM
 
Location: MN
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I think it would be great to see Nicollet Mall changed to a pedestrian only zone. I always enjoy areas like that in other cities around the world.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:17 AM
 
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Make it pedestrian and bike only except for a free mall bus, and eventually just a streetcar. Get rid of the dated early 90s color scheme (teal and burgundy? yuck). Replace all the pavers correctly. They are constantly replacing them or just filling in with TAR, because they were never installed correctly to begin with. Do something to make the north end of the mall (north of 5th) more attractive. Other than the library, it is empty space from 5th to Washington.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:41 AM
 
Location: MN
1,672 posts, read 3,631,938 times
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I think still allowing a bus would ruin the whole concept. Especially for market days or art fairs that would be much better if they could stretch across the entire space without a bus road. Sitting outside of a cafe or pub having a drink is much more relaxing without a bus passing every few minutes too. Most americans need the exercise anyway, encourage them to walk.
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