Centennial Commons and the DEEP District
The Centennial Commons Initiative (CCI) began in 2007 as a community driven mixed-use development plan for the heart of Elliot Park Neighborhood. The Initiative has received funding support from The McKnight Foundation, The Minnesota Vikings and the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) and Public Works departments.
The original goals of CCI were established to catalyze sustainable place-based development:
- Enhance a sense of history and community through sensitive design planning that strengthens the unique urban character of the neighborhood.
- Develop more diversified housing opportunities.
- Create much needed retail and service industry space.
- Improve the public realm and safety of the neighborhood.
- Create community spaces to meet the needs of an economically and culturally diverse neighborhood.
- Incorporate green principles and standards into design and development to create a more sustainable neighborhood.
CCI has been a rigorous exercise in urban design, community building and partnership development which sets the stage for appropriate development that implements the community vision articulated in the Elliot Park Neighborhood Master Plan (Summary, Historical Perspective, Assets and Challenges, The Master Plan, Design Guidelines) . To ensure effective planning and implementation, EPNI has developed working collaborations with public and private stakeholders such as the East Downtown Council (EDC), City of Minneapolis CPED, area institutions and businesses and other downtown neighborhoods.
The underlying concepts of the project have been expanded to include all of Elliot Park Neighborhood and Downtown East through the Downtown East Elliot Park (DEEP) District Framework. Through this expansion, we are advocating for district partnerships and shared reinvestment strategies.
Following are examples of revitalization efforts undertaken by EPNI and partners within the CCI and DEEP District Framework:
- Collaborated with Minneapolis Public Works and CPED to incorporate additional streetscape improvements into the major reconstruction of Chicago Avenue. These enhancements will attract future commercial investment and mixed-use development along this corridor. EPNI advised neighborhood property owners regarding construction updates and provided opportunities for them to be involved in the design and selection of enhancements. EPNI plans to facilitate property owners’ participation in boulevard plantings and maintenance.
- Consulted with and advised Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) on its expansion plans for a new community clinic as part of their goal to become more integrated into the community.
- Established working relationships with the Minnesota Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to ensure that the possible development of a new football stadium would serve as a catalyst for redevelopment throughout Elliot Park and Downtown East and have a positive impact on the broader community.
- Published the Elliot Park Neighborhood Urban Design Guidelines: The Centennial Commons which describes the principles and practices of good urban design for the Elliot Park Neighborhood. DESIGN GUIDELINES Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, Section 6
- Gained the support of 7th Ward Council Member Lisa Goodman and then Minneapolis CPED Director Mike Christenson to specify the Chicago Avenue/Tenth Street corridors and nodes for Commercial Acquisition Revolving Funds and Capital Long Range Improvements funding for transit, pedestrian and infrastructure projects.
- Collaborated with the East Downtown Council (EDC) to apply for a Great Streets Neighborhood Business Program grant to conduct a market analysis, property inventory and land use study that provides the basic data for decision-making on land use, development and business recruitment strategies in the district.
- Worked with Close Landscape Architecture to develop the Downtown East Elliot Park (DEEP) District Framework and publish the DEEP THE IMPERATIVE and DEEP THE OPPORTUNITY PART ONE and PART TWO which describe the vision for a unique and sustainable 21st century urban community.
- Collaborated with CPED to create exploratory development proposals for targeted Chicago Avenue sites in the Elliot Park Neighborhood to test the markets.
In their 2011 Strategic Planning, the EPNI Board affirmed housing development as a continued priority. In 2012 EPNI is moving forward on several fronts to achieve neighborhood housing goals:
- EPNI has been in discussion with Minneapolis Downtown Council representatives regarding their goal to double downtown residential by 2025 as described in their Intersections Downtown 2025 Plan. This Plan goal parallels and reinforces the neighborhood vision for continued expansion and diversification of housing in the district.
- EPNI is conducting a neighborhood housing inventory as a basis for establishing housing development guidelines in the neighborhood to ensure a balanced and appropriate mix of housing types.
- EPNI is formalizing their development review protocols to clarify expectations for working relationships with property owners, developers, their designers and the city.
- EPNI is conducting historic preservation/conservation research to determine the advisability of establishing a new preservation or conservation district for expanded preservation of neighborhood assets and historic resources.
Through the CCI and the DEEP District Framework, EPNI continues to focus on creating and catalyzing development opportunities that support community vision as defined in the Elliot Park Neighborhood Master Plan. This work requires careful research and understanding of development prospects in relation to property disposition, potential markets and financial resources. We are committed to the public-private partnerships that are essential in these development endeavors.