Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Despite initial setback, Downtown Longfellow plans public art projects

Posted on 24 July 2017 by calvin

The Downtown Longfellow Initiative is planning art projects and business remodeling and expansion in the near future, despite a slight hiccup when the Paint the Pavement project was not approved by the City in its current form.

According to Jana Hay­den-Sofio, who was working as a liaison with Lake Street Council and Downtown Longfellow, the plan was to do a large street mural for the portion of 27th Ave. S. between Lake and Minnehaha, the area called Downtown Longfellow.

DTL StickersPhoto right: Downtown Longfellow is located at the intersection of 27th Ave., Minnehaha Ave. and Lake St. This commercial district is home to a unique and diverse set of businesses. (Photo courtesy of Lake Street Council)

“We had hoped to create a ‘plaza’-like environment on this little street, highlighting its ethnic restaurants and independent businesses,” she added.

“The mural was not actually denied,” said Mary Altman, Public Arts Administrator for the City. “However, the location proposed by the Lake Street Council on 27th Ave. was not an eligible location due to the fact that it was approaching a major arterial.”

According to city policy, eligible sites for Paint the Pavement projects are projects on city sidewalks and residential streets, and sidewalks and intersections in areas that are not scheduled to be reconstructed within the permit timeline. Sites that are ineligible include any roadway approaching a major arterial or mid-block locations.

DTL Construction(1)Photo left: Local businesses felt the impact of road construction over the last couple years. (Photo courtesy of Lake Street Council)

“While unfortunate, we completely understand why the project was rejected,” said Theresa Swaney, communications and program coordinator of the Lake Street Council. She said the Council and businesses will look at other locations for murals as well as other projects.

One change that will be coming later in the fall is that Moon Palace Books is moving to 3032 Minnehaha Ave.

“We hope to open there at the end of October,” said owner Jamie Schwesnedl. “October 25 is the store’s fifth birthday.”

The space is currently under construction, and Schwesnedl said their plans are for the bookstore plus a cafe and a reading room.

“The reading room will be a space for author events, readings, book clubs, and story time,” he explained. “It will also be available for rental for private events.”

In addition to the food, Schwesnedl continued, there is a plan to sell coffee, beer, and wine.

“Assuming everything goes well with the licensing process for beer and wine,” he added.

“We’ll have a patio space for outdoor seating starting in the summer of 2018, and some additional outdoor space for events, in what is now the gravel lot between 3032 Minnehaha and 3020 Minnehaha,” Schwesnedl said. “The outdoor space is just in the beginning stages of planning.

DTL IMG_20161112_112008Photo right: Promotional materials for the Downtown Longfellow campaign. (Photo courtesy of Lake Street Council)

What happens there will depend a lot on what zoning allows or doesn’t, But we hope it will be a space for craft fairs, concerts, flea markets, outdoor movies, and special events connected to the businesses and community in Downtown Longfellow.”

Numerous other murals are planned, but as of this writing they were still in the planning stages and could not be confirmed.

Swaney explained that, in general, Downtown Longfellow was started because of the construction along Minnehaha Ave., and the Lake Street Council became involved as a way to help mitigate any loss the businesses might experience. “The reconstructed road is a great asset to the community, and the businesses in this area have built a stronger network,” she said. “Their efforts will continue to focus on buying local and providing services for the Longfellow and greater South Minneapolis neighborhoods.”

“You will find extraordinary community-minded business owners and operators, as well as organizations, among the members of Downtown Longfellow,” added Hayden-Sofio.

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