Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Dinkytown Saved, For Now — And Perhaps For Ever

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 25, 2013

There was a public hearing on the fate of Dinkytown today:

Dinkytown is one of Minneapolis’s oldest commercial districts (130 years old!). Currently Dinkytown is zoned C1 for small-scale neighborhood commercial uses. This is to protect and promote the independent businesses and the unique character of the community. However, real estate speculators, the Rauenhorst Trust’s Opus Development Company, want to build a large six story student housing unit that current C1 zoning does not allow. To do this, Opus has requested a zoning change to C3A to accommodate higher-density, mixed-use commercial and housing for a roughly half-block area of Dinkytown. The Minneapolis City’ Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on Thursday, July 25th – 9:30 a.m. is the last opportunity for public hearing on the proposed rezoning.

Rezoning for the OPUS project, will give a “green light” to other developers who are already bidding on Dinkytown properties. Opus is a merchant developer whose main agenda is maximizing profit, not investing in Dinkytown. According to a company associate, the property is likely to be sold even before it is finished — flipped to out-of-state investors, distant landlords who don’t have a stake in Dinkytown. Dinkytown is still 69% small business. This is something city officials should be proud of and protect, not jeopardize. Opus’s plans will demolish several Dinkytown landmark businesses. This project will disrupt an intensely local economy and funnel our money to Eastern hedge fund investors.

Finally, this is not a “done deal” despite what official parties have said. Opus Group has been working behind the scenes for months to get the buy-in of key staff prior to the affected public being aware of the project. Opus’s lead attorney is a former employee of the city. The Opus Group would like to ride through the city’s decision making process using its privileged connections and the false assumption that this project is inevitable. However, our elected officials still have to take several key votes on the issue. Help us to hold them accountable and demand they stand with the small businesses and supporters of Dinkytown, not corporate special interests!

TAKE ACTION! Demand that our elected representatives vote for the public interest and not corporate special interests. Nearly 3,000 of you have signed the Save Dinkytown petition opposing rezoning Dinkytown to accommodate the OPUS project. ACT NOW:

Enough folks must have taken actions, because the Minneapolis City Council shocked me and did the right thing:

In an unusual move, the committee voted 3-2 against staff recommendations to move forward with the necessary rezoning. The full Council will vote on the project next week, but they rarely overturn committee decisions.

Voting in favor of the project were council members Gary Schiff, the chair of the committee, and Kevin Reich. Opponents were council members Lisa Goodman, Cam Gordon and Meg Tuthill.

Council Member Diane Hofstede does not sit on the committee, but spoke against the rezoning.

Goodman expressed concern that the rents would be too high for small businesses to move into the new site. Gordon said while he was “impressed” with the development, questions remain about the future implications for the neighborhood.

“I think people are looking at that four-block area and they’re saying well if it’s all going to get upzoned like this, and it’s all going to get redeveloped like that, we’re going to lose everything,” Gordon said.

They’d already lost the Book House, the Podium, and the old Marshall high school building which had been serving as the UTEC Center small business and artist incubator, an entity far more valuable than any out-of-state-hedge-fund-owned luxury high-rise would be to the community and the local economy. But for now at least, the rest of Dinkytown won’t be bulldozed and turned into Edina East.

I don’t think Opus will take this lying down. We will have to redouble our efforts, because they will be lobbying the members of the full council 24/7 to get them to overturn the committee’s decision.

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