Thanks to the Star Tribune opinion staff for printing Carol Becker’s editorial counterpoint about the City Council’s flawed Minneapolis 2040 Plan (“So, let’s talk about what ‘density’ really is,” Sept. 18). I experienced bad zoning decisions firsthand. I lived in Uptown from the ’70s to the early ’90s. I was forced out of my apartment by the Calhoun Square development. Some of the older tenants had lived in the building for over 30 years. We all had to move, and we all ended up paying higher rents to stay in the area. Calhoun Square was never the retail success the developer touted.
The Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street area was once quaint and vibrant with mom-and-pop businesses. Only a few of those businesses are still there. I didn’t need a car and was able to do all my shopping within a few blocks. I took the bus to my downtown job. What was once the epitome of an ideal neighborhood was eroded by the loss of these businesses.
If planners and builders just plop down a huge complex without adhering to “functional density,” it will have all the ambience of an outlying suburb and similar lack of amenities. The City Council has a spotty record regarding city planning. Many of us futilely protested the disastrous Kmart/Lake street debacle, Calhoun Square, City Center, Block E, etc. We have enough soulless buildings. Some of the proposed projects could possibly be justified if they increased affordable housing — which they will not. Developers are looking to turn a profit.
The City Council’s job is to apply due diligence and weed out projects that don’t fit a 2040 Plan. If affordable housing is the true goal, the city should be looking at reducing permit fees and increasing housing subsidies. If another goal is to reduce dependency on cars, people need easy access to grocery, cafe and shopping venues.
Hennepin and Lake was once an ideal neighborhood that offered a car-free lifestyle, affordable rents and a short walk to two lovely lakes. City leaders should be wary of developers who want to turn Minneapolis into an elites-only city.
LINDA BENZINGER, MINNEAPOLIS