Friday, May 22, 2009

Making Franklin Safe for Pedestrians: Grass Roots Crossing Guard Event

Throughout Franklin Planning events, participants repeatedly pointed out how hard it can be to cross Franklin – especially during the evening rush hour. Our task forces suggested having volunteer crossing guards help raise pedestrian visibility on Franklin. On Bike Walk Day, Thursday May 14th, we organized grass roots crossing guards at three high traffic intersections on Franklin (24th, 25th and 26th Aves). We wore brightly colored vests and carried bright yellow flags to alert drivers of pedestrians who needed to cross the street. We also handed out flyers the summarized right of way laws.

Through our interactions with people walking on Franklin, we learned that most pedestrians do not know that they had the right of way at all intersections. Even if there isn’t a marked crosswalk, a pedestrian has a right to cross as long as approaching cars are far enough away to easily stop. Since most cars don’t obey this law, pedestrians are often trapped at intersections or even in the middle of the street as they wait for cross-traffic to stop. Many walkers were grateful to have the crossing guard escort them across the street, and expressed how it is too difficult and dangerous to cross at the unmarked intersections like 24th and 25th. Redesign hopes to organize more grass roots crossing events in the future again, to continue reminding pedestrians and cars of this issue.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Vision for Franklin Avenue Almost Final Draft!

[Updated--see bottom of post]
The Vision for Franklin Avenue is posted for review!! There is a short summary document with lots of nice images, plus a few additional files that go into more detail. I hope that you all get a chance to take a look. Here's the link:


1.1 Process
  • people
  • phases (summary)
1.2 Outcomes
  • core values
  • conceptual themes (summary)
  • bystrom vision (summary)
  • development principles (summary)
There are three upcoming opportunities to discuss the plan:
  • SNG Community Development Committee meeting next Tuesday (May 12th at 7pm, Matthews Park Center): the Franklin Vision will be one of four items on the agenda
  • Redesign Development Committee meeting: Tuesday, May 27th at 8:30am at our office (2619 E Franklin)
  • A larger community gathering to discuss the plan: (time and date TBD)
Also, if you have comments, you can send them to Emily Wergin at

The Seward Neighborhood Group Devleopment Committee approved the document at its May 12 meeting with only one change. The suggested maximum height of new development from 21st Avenue to 29th Avenue was reduced to three stories.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

CDC Action on Bystrom Site Road Allignment

After being presented a number of options for the connection between Minnehaha and Cedar, the Seward Neighborhood Community Development Committee voted to recommend against the "local street" option since this would not allow closing Minnehaha Avenue between Franklin and Cedar and would not improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the LRT station.

The CDC also voted to recommend that the connection be designed to Minnesota State Aid Road standards that would allow use of the connection by trucks. This alignment is a sweeping curve from Minnehaha to a new 22nd Street that connects with Cedar Avenue just north of the LRT bridge. This would allow improvements to the Franklin/Minnehaha/Cedar intersection by closing Minnehaha north of Franklin and making Minnehaha between 22nd Street a local street (not a truck rout).

DRAFT Bystrom Site Community Vision

For the last three weeks, the Bystrom taskforce of neighborhood residents have been working on a detailed vision for the site. The based it on the Vision and Values developed for Franklin Avenue Planning. Here is the current draft that was handed out at the November 11 Seward Neighborhood Group Community Development Committee. Discussion will continue at the next Taskforce meeting, Wednesday, November 19th, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. @ Seward Redesign (2619 Franklin Avenue)

DRAFT Bystrom Site Community Vision

This Development Vision will be taken to each of the partner organizations (SNG, SCCA and Redesign) for adoption by their boards. This Vision will steer our work together on the Bystrom project over the coming years and provide a way for us to make decisions as a community. It will also guide the decision making of the City, County, and development partners.

We envision the Bystrom Bros. site to be a mixed-use, green development that reinforces Seward’s unique character and sets a precedent for both the process and outcome of distinct urban design.

Development here should reinforce Seward’s identity as a pedestrian- and bike-friendly neighborhood. This site is an opportunity to connect walkers and bikes between the Seward neighborhood and the LRT station/Hiawatha bike trail and to create a strong entry point into the Seward neighborhood.

Specifically, the west edge of the site offers an opportunity to pull the perceived edge of Seward right up to the trail and station area.

Changes at the north end of the site should create inviting connections to and from Franklin Avenue; and changes to the east should knit with the adjacent residential area.

Development on the site should include public art, sculptures in particular, that perhaps reflect the industrial character of this segment of the community.

Good Design
We envision the Bystrom Bros. site as a well-designed place that expresses the unique “urban hippy” character of Seward. (multi-cultural, arts-aligned, green, urban, grass-roots, family-friendly, multi-generational, welcoming, student-friendly, safe, comfortable and accessible. )

In reaction to examples of other developments throughout the Twin Cities, we found that good architectural design, quality building materials, and modest building scale (for the majority of buildings, no more than 5-6 stories) were the elements that most impacted what we found desirable. Density per se is not objectionable; large-scale, monolithic buildings are.

Site design should emphasize pedestrian and biking as primary modes of movement, creating public spaces that are safe, well- lit, and welcoming.

Site design and window orientation should take advantage of the amazing views of downtown and the West horizon.

Multi-Modal Movement
We envision the Bystrom site as a groundbreaking development from an alternative transportation perspective. The design will draw on historic precedents (like Milwaukee Avenue) and cutting edge tools and techniques to make walking and biking safe, attractive and easy. Due to its location adjacent to transit (the Franklin LRT Station in particular), pedestrian and bike infrastructure (the adjacent LRT-trail connects to both downtown and the Midtown Greenway), the site holds an added layer of responsibility to connect people to that infrastructure.

1. It should facilitate multi-modal lifestyles by increasing the number of places to work and live that cater to and celebrate pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders. Specific strategies might include:
  • Inside, convenient bike storage at entrances.
  • Ample and conveniently located outside bike storage.
  • Area for bike repair.
  • Benches or other public seating to allow peds a rest stop.
2. It should link existing bike/walk/LRT infrastructure so that the overall system of alternative transportation throughout our neighborhood functions more efficiently and more comfortably.
Development on the site should allow and encourage multiple, safe connections in, out, across and along the site.

Local Economy & Leadership
We envision the Bystrom Bros. site as an opportunity to strengthen our local economy, that the development be driven by a strong and clear grass-roots voice, and that the end result is designed and tenanted to contribute to the fabric of our community.
  • The site is primarily a residential site.
  • Some office and light industrial would be appropriate for this site.
  • Do not see retail other than at a limited scale.
  • Any retail should reinforce connections to and support neighborhood retail nodes on Franklin and Minnehaha.
  • We do not want the site to create a new retail business node/center.
As the design for the street reconfiguration is refined and developers begin to propose and design specific parcels at the Bystrom site, the community will continue to guide the process.
  • Prospective developers will receive and read this community vision.
  • Potential projects will be presented to SNG CDC meetings, and follow the recommendations in the final Franklin Plan document.
Stewardship and Safety
We envision the Bystrom Bros. site as a safe and well-maintained part of our neighborhood. Development at the site is an opportunity to impact the safety of the existing LRT station area and Hiawatha bike trial.

Pedestrians and bicyclists should have clear, well-defined and well-maintained paths in and around the site that allow convenient and safe access to and from the LRT, the Hiawatha bike trail, Franklin Avenue and the neighborhood generally.

Public spaces and thoroughfares should be inspired by nearby Milwaukee Avenue (and may include car-free streets) and programs and design should put “eyes on the street,” lighting, and frequent use to ped, bike and public areas.

Intersections generally, and especially at Minnehaha and 22nd, should be controlled for safe turning and crossing by all modes of transport. We envision that this intersection will be one of the primary intersections used by people who work and live in the community to connect to the LRT and Hiawatha bike trail.

These pedestrian and bike connections along and through the site provide an opportunity to not only foster movement but also create opportunities for casual connections between neighbors.

Seward is Green
We envision the Bystrom Bros. site as a place that contributes to the environmental health of our neighborhood and the world.

This site should include green/landscaped gathering spaces that integrate with the urban fabric of our neighborhood. Trees, plants and other landscaping should screen and attenuate sound for those who work, live and visit there. Landscaping plans could include composting sites for residents.

To complement the proximity to the LRT station and bicycle infrastructure, surface parking should be minimized on the site – street parking and underground parking are desirable. In the spirit of “just enough,” parking should be created assuming this site could match or exceed the percent of people in Seward who don’t own a car (According to the 2000 census, 74% of Seward residents owned 0-1 cars per household, compared to only 40% MSA). Some strategies to reduce parking demand, might include:
  • Hour car availability on site.
  • On site bike repairs facilities.
  • Financial incentives, such as decoupling housing units from parking spots, subsidized transit passes, or …
Sustainable density should be balanced with livability and aesthetics. Construction should employ the best practices of green construction and conservation. New infrastructure and buildings should employ cutting edge techniques to maximize on-site storm water management, capture or create energy on site, and other green technology.

Addendum: Great Ideas from the Neighborhood

Possible Uses
  • Senior Housing
  • Small Business / Light industrial incubator space
  • Destination Businesses, like: climbing gym, theater showing independent films, copy shop with mailing, day care
  • Bicycle-related Business on the LRT-trail
  • Transportation-sharing hub for the neighborhood (like Hour Car but perhaps even broader … include “Hour Truck”, “Hour Bicycle”, etc.)

  • Include access to rooftop gardens for every residential unit

… to be continued

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Next Bystrum Site Pulbic Meeting November 11

The Bystrum Site community task force has been meeting and will have more details at the next Bystrum Site public meeting.

The meeting will be one of the agenda items on the Seward Neighborhood Group Community Development Committee meeting on Tuesday November 11. The meeting will start at 6:30 because of a very full agenda. Since Matthews Center will be closed that night, the meeting will be at the Seward Redesign offices at 2619 East Franklin (next to True Thai).

Some results from the test projects on Franklin and 27th

Really behind again on this blog. Here re some pictures of the test projects we tried at 27th and Franklin--two different kinds of crosswalks and improved landscaping at Zipp's. Not pictured are a planter, benches and a Welcome to Seward banner. (The benches are still there in front of Fast and Furless. And of course, the landscaping is still there on the Zipp's corner.)

We will be starting to work on the final documents for the city (that will be approved by the boards of SNG, Redesign and SCCA. There will be discussions at the SNG Development committee--not sure when yet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bystrom Site Redevelopmet Community Planning

We are considering this a continuation of Franklin Planning--It will result in a more pedestrian friendly intersection of Franklin, Minnehaha and Cedar and will result in new development in the old industrial area just south of Franklin between Snelling and the LRT tracks. (This is a joint project of Seward Neighborhood Group, Seward Redesign and Seward Civic and Commerce Assoication.)

The community planning for the Bystrum site and realignment of 22nd Street is starting this afternoon– please participate! (Other events will be happening over the next few weeks>)

The process of spurring redevelopment in the Franklin LRT Station area has reached a critical juncture. Seward Redesign has been working for nearly 5 years to achieve the community’s vision for safer access and a more walkable, populated environment. Work is beginning on a 4-acre parcel near the station, the Bystrom Brothers site, as well as for a new connection between Minnehaha and Cedar along a re-routed 22nd Street.

The community is invited and encouraged to join us to learn about the current timeline for development planning for this important area near the LRT station and to become familiar with the site. City Desk Architects and the Franklin Planning Steering Committee will be leading the community through a series of events including:

What: Intro to project/community walk of the site.
When: Wednesday, October 8th, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: @ SE corner of Minnehaha & 22nd Street

What: Design Workshop as part of SNG’s community development committee.
When: Tuesday, October 14th, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: @ Matthews Community Center

What: Bystrom Task Force Meeting #1
When: Wednesday, October 22nd, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: @ Seward Redesign (2619 Franklin Avenue)

What: Bystrom Task Force Meeting #2
When: Wednesday, October 29th, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: @ Seward Redesign (2619 Franklin Avenue)

What: Review selection of preferred development scenario as part of SNG’s community development committee
When: Tuesday, November 11th, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: @ Matthews Community Center

What: Bystrom Task Force Meeting #3
When: Wednesday, November 19th, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: @ Seward Redesign (2619 Franklin Avenue)

Please contact Katya, Emily, Sheldon, or Bernie with any immediate questions. We hope you can participate in this important community work.

Katya Pilling, Seward Redesign:, 612-338-8729 x 116
Emily Wergin, Seward Redesign:, 612-338-8729 x105
Sheldon Mains, Seward Neighborhood
Bernie Waibel, Seward Neighborhood Group: