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Min Hi Line linear park becoming a reality in Longfellow

Posted on 18 November 2018 by calvin

After years of talking about a protected path for biking and walking, coalition delighted to see first sections going in

A pilot project identified early on is near the General Mills grain elevators at 3716 Dight Ave. The site was recently sold to Hayes Harlow Development, who is also working on a development at 46th St. and Minnehaha Ave. This graphic illustrates what the linear path could look like in the area. (Graphic courtesy of the Minnesota Design Center)

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Standing in front of Longfellow House next to Minnehaha Falls Regional Park, one can see it is a straight shot up the train tracks to the Midtown Greenway and then downtown Minneapolis.

“It is an inspiring view. No great leap of imagination is required to envision how wonderful it will be to have a protected wide path for recreation—biking, walking, gardens—that connects Minnehaha Falls Park to the Midtown Greenway in that rail corridor,” remarked Cora Peterson.

Photo right: The Min Hi Line is a piece that would connect to the Greenway and a larger network around the Twin Cities. Organizers support extending the Midtown Greenway over the Short Line Bridge to St. Paul. (Graphic courtesy of the Min Hi Line Coalition)

A few years ago, she banded together with other South Minneapolis residents to dream about a path that would do just that.

The Min Hi Line Coalition aims for a protected, purpose-built, multi-use path for walking, biking, and other moderately paced people-powered transit, as well as park space in the wider areas of the corridor, explained Peterson, who grew up in Nokomis. There are opportunities for gardens, playground equipment, and art installations along the rail bed.

The line will help green the urban landscape and provide social connectedness, Peterson pointed out.

“The development of the Min Hi Line is the next step to ensure that Minneapolis and the Twin Cities continue to lead in quality of life nationally,” said Peterson.
She encourages people to take a look up and down the Min Hi Line corridor at one of the intersections that cross it to get an idea of the substantial space the rail bed comprises.

“Our goal is that Minneapolis and Hennepin County preserve the full boundaries of the current corridor for the Min Hi Line linear park,” Peterson stated.

First section being installed
In the fall of 2016, Peterson and co-founder Nathan Van Wylen began collecting letters of support for the Min Hi Line from neighborhood associations and local organizations such as Squirrel Haus Arts.

Photo left: The General Mills grain elevators at 3716 Dight Ave. have been identified as a pilot of the Min Hi Line. The site was recently sold to Hayes Harlow Development,who is also working on a development at 46th St. and Minnehaha Ave. (Photo submitted by the Min Hi Line Coalition)

They also pursued engagement with the Midtown Greenway Coalition, acknowledging the group’s vast experience in developing and maintaining a successful city path. The Midtown Greenway is a 5.5-mile long path along a former railroad corridor in south Minneapolis with bicycling and walking trails that opened in three phases since 2000 thanks to the grassroots advocacy of the coalition.

The section between Hiawatha Ave. and the river opened in 2006, and the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge was erected in 2007 so that users could avoid the dangerous at-grade intersection at 28th and Hiawatha.

Currently, the first section of Min Hi Line pathway is being installed by the city just south of the Sabo Bridge between the Greenway and Lake St.

“It is very exciting to see the aspiration for the complete Min Hi Line begin to be realized through trail installations at the north and south ends of the corridor,” commented Peterson.

Photo right: Currently, the first section of Min Hi Line pathway is being installed by the city just south of the bridge between the Greenway and Lake St. “It is very exciting to see the aspiration for the complete Min Hi Line begin to be realized through trail installations at the north and south ends of the corridor,” commented Min High Line Coalition co-founder Cora Peterson, who grew up in the Nokomis neighborhood. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The next section of the linear park slated for completion is on the south end. It will be part of The Capp development at 46th and Minnehaha Ave. being built by Oppidan Development in the old railway bed from Nawadaha Blvd. north to 46th St.

“It’s an idea whose time has finally come with the Oppidan development because they choose to orientate their development to the line,” remarked Peterson.

Another pilot project identified early on is near the General Mills grain elevators at 3716 Dight Ave. “Historically, General Mills has been a strong supporter of the park system in Minneapolis, and so this seemed like a promising opportunity. Council member Andrew Johnson was instrumental in facilitating meetings between General Mills and possible community-oriented developers that were interested in purchasing the site,” observed Min Hi Line co-founder Van Wylen.

The site was recently sold to Hayes Harlow Development, who is also working on a development at 46th St. and Minnehaha Ave.

Extension over river
Recently, the Min High Line Coalition has banded with the Midtown Greenway Coalition to support extending the Greenway over the Short Line bridge to St. Paul.

“The bridge is also the rail outlet for the Min Hi Line corridor, and a future in which that bridge connects Greenway bike and pedestrian traffic over the Mississippi would mean vast transportation and economic impact at a regional level,” remarked Peterson.

Creating an attractive corridor
Peterson is a returned resident of Minneapolis. While she lived elsewhere, she said she benefited from creative, modern parks developments that have transformed various inner-city neighborhoods such as the Atlanta Beltline and the New Your City High Line.

Like the Min Hi Line, the Atlanta Beltline sit in an at-grade corridor. Construction on the Atlanta Beltline’s East Side trail began 2011, through an area of Atlanta that feels similar to the Min Hi Line corridor neighborhoods, Peterson pointed out.

The Atlanta Beltline had an initial projected return on investment of $3.5 for each $1 of public/private investment. The project has already doubled that return, reaching $7 to $1—and the entire 22-mile Beltline loop around the city of Atlanta will not be completed for another decade.

“We hope the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County will work with developers, like Oppidan, who see the value and want to be a part of developing the Min Hi Line, and work in partnership with those developers to find ways to finance the park’s development along with other building in the corridor,” stated Peterson.

She observed that most of the Min Hi Line corridor has been identified by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board as needing parks. “Installing a park and path in the old railway bed will preserve public green space in the corridor even as the corridor becomes attractive to private, for-profit development,” said Peterson.

Submit photos and stories
New housing and commercial buildings are already popping up along the Min Hi Line as the corridor’s historic freight rail traffic gives way to new uses that serve East Nokomis, Longfellow, and Seward neighborhoods. There are currently three businesses that are still using the CP Rail freight line (Archer Daniels Midland, Leder Brothers Metal and General Mills), which has put the Min Hi Line at a simmer until they are no longer active.

“Civic engagement on this topic is essential to guide the Min Hi Line corridor’s equitable development—to help elected officials and developers understand the corridor’s highest and best use for Minneapolis residents,” remarked Peterson. “Most important is that interested residents consistently bring up the Min Hi Line with elected officials at Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.”

Landscape architecture design students mocked up some Min Hi Line visuals, which can be viewed on the group’s Facebook page. “We want more visual arts work like that to propel the Min Hi Line image forward,” said Peterson.

Peterson encourages residents to follow www.facebook.com/minhiline, and link photos and stories about the corridor to the Min Hi Line Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

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