Minneapolis Mayor cheers on Nicollet Mall revamp

Nicollet Walk Tree Groves (COURTESY JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS)

Nicollet’s Crystal Stair (COURTESY JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS)

As a team of designers gear up for an overhaul of Nicollet Mall, dubbed Minneapolis’ main street, civic leaders there have cheered on the project in an op-ed in the StarTribune.

Mayor Betsy Hodges and Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, write of the plan to revamp 12 blocks of pedestrian and public transit thoroughfare:

Never before has the need to leverage the mall as “the” public square providing space for a range of users been more apparent. This is our opportunity to elevate our offerings to ensure we can compete with other cities for tourism dollars, remain home to corporate headquarters, continue to grow the city, and attract new generations of families and employees while developing a space that will serve generations to come.

Minneapolis lacks a visible tourist magnet, they write, like Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, Boston’s Newbury Street or Beale Street in Memphis. New York–based James Corner Field Operations won a design competition last year for a plan draw up with local firms Julie Snow Architects and Coen+Partners.

Nicollet Walk Tree Groves (COURTESY JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS)

Nicollet Walk Tree Groves (COURTESY JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS)

As Hodges and Cramer write, Nicollet Mall was originally built in 1968, just as many Twin Cities residents were flocking to the suburbs. Now, with some of that momentum bending back to downtown, the op-ed authors and others are hoping to capture some of the economic impact of projects like New York’s High Line, which was also designed by James Corner Field Operations.

What does this mean for the rest of downtown Minneapolis? Hodges and Cramer say the public-private partnership model that built the mall almost 50 years ago should be revived to ensure that the Twin Cities “take this opportunity to further enhance downtown.”

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