City Council green-lights plans for an arts-driven downtown Hennepin Ave. of the future [IMAGES]

Categories: Announcements
courtesy Damon Farber Associates
Hennepin Avenue boasts our gleaming Central Library, four historic theaters, the Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and the Walker Art Center. But these landmarks are broken up by too many parking lots and empty spaces for the street to feel like a cohesive destination.

On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously backed a plan, one year and $200,000 in the making, to start changing that.

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The new vision calls for a Hennepin Cultural District that will fill in the two-mile stretch between the Walker and the Mississippi with green, creative, and pedestrian-friendly spaces like outdoor courtyards and pop-up galleries, along with multifaceted buildings and artist lofts.
The Plan-It Hennepin team framed the new initiative this way.

Specifics include a new "visitor hub" to point out directions and sell rush theater tickets, street-to-skyway connections, and event spaces with kid- and teen-targeted programming. The plan singles out the river gateway and I-94 as major areas for improvement.

Planning for this downtown campus has been spearheaded by the Hennepin Theatre Trust, the Walker, Artspace, and the city, and funded largely by a 2011 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. These backers hope to see the District take shape in the next three to ten years.

In the immediate, two-year future, the District wants to launch an open-street project, "invest in distinctive public art," and focus on creating programming and reducing store vacancies. For all the details, the Theatre Trust website offers a download of all 82-pages of the comprehensive plan.

The initiative goes hand-in-hand with the Minneapolis Downtown Council's "Downtown 2025" vision, a major aim of which is to double the number of residents living in the urban core to 70,000. If both plans succeed, there might even be some people around to enjoy all of the new trees and public art.

Take a look at the renderings for what might be Minneapolis's new main street:

courtesy Hennepin Theatre Trust
courtesy Hennepin Theatre Trust
courtesy Damon Farber Associates

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