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WASHINGTON (January 14, 2013) – A Minneapolis site, adjacent to the location of the proposed new Minnesota Vikings Stadium in Downtown East, has been selected as the site for this year’s Urban Land Institute (ULI) Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. The ideas competition, open to graduate-level students, will provide multidisciplinary teams the opportunity to propose a long-term development plan that creates value for property owners, city residents, and the greater Twin Cities region.
Now underway, the 2013 competition challenges teams to create a practical and workable scheme for a section of Downtown East. The competition is based on a hypothetical scenario in which two property owners have entered into an agreement in which they evaluate the benefits and financial possibilities of combining their parcels. The owners’ properties, largely used as surface parking lots, will be analyzed to determine if the parcels could be redeveloped or sold as one large development site. In the scenario, the city of Minneapolis, eager to see this section of downtown grow into a neighborhood and regional destination, has provided an incentive for these property owners to redevelop, albeit with strings attached: the city would construct a 500-space parking structure and provide $600,000 for public space through tax incentives. As a condition, the city has requested that the new development lease at least 100 of these spaces at a rate of $3,000 per space annually to serve the development for ten years. In addition, the city has asked that the development scheme include affordable housing and begin to connect Downtown East with Elliot Park to the south and Mill District to the north.
While based on a fictional situation, the 2013 Hines competition tackles city and local stakeholders’ desire to reinvent Downtown East as interest builds in anticipation of the new stadium. Since the original proposal to build a new stadium, debate has continued on how city leaders and developers could transform the surrounding area, which currently is characterized by sprawling parking lots and an assortment of buildings. Given downtown’s nearly 25 percent increase in residents since 2000, supporters see the area as having the potential to transform into an economically vibrant and livable environment. Cynics claim that the city and developers had the same optimistic goals when the Metrodome was built in 1982; however, the incentive for massive development never materialized.
The competition focuses on a development site located primarily in Downtown East, with parts of the larger study areaspilling over into the more developed Downtown West and the lower density historic Elliot Park neighborhood in the south. The area making up Downtown East is officially bound by the Mississippi River to the north, 5th Street to the south, Portland Avenue to the west, and the Interstate to the east. Downtown East is an emerging prospect for new development. In fact, most of downtown Minneapolis’s current residential opportunities lie in Downtown East and many of the historic buildings located in the Mill District section have been restored as high-end loft apartments, restaurants, offices, and museums.
The Hines competition strives to encourage cooperation and teamwork—necessary talents in the planning, design and development of sustainable communities—among future land use professionals and allied professions, such as architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, historic preservation, engineering, real estate development, finance, psychology and law. It is open to graduate students who are pursuing real estate-related studies at universities in the United States and Canada, including programs in real estate development, urban planning, urban design, architecture and landscape architecture.
The competition has been funded in perpetuity through a $3 million endowment from Gerald D. Hines, chairman of the global Hines real estate organization (founded by Hines in Houston in 1957) and a recipient of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. A legend in the land use industry, he is widely known as a leader who pioneered the use of high-quality planning and architecture as a marketable feature of development in office, residential and mixed-use projects.
Since the first competition was held in 2003, over 3,500 students on over 950 teams have participated, representing over 85 schools in the U.S. and Canada. Competitions have been held in cities all over the United States, from Washington, D.C. to St. Louis to Seattle. According to Hines, in its history, the ideas competition has been instrumental in aiding the professional development of tomorrow’s land use leaders. “Real estate development is a very exciting, imaginative field. It involves many disciplines and interaction with so many parts of our world—finance, politics, science, psychology—it affects the lives of so many people,” Hines said. “Through this competition, we are raising awareness among the students of the key role high-quality urban design plays in creating sustainable living environments.”
A $50,000 prize will be awarded to the winning team; and each of the remaining three finalist teams will receive $10,000. This year, the competition received applications from 158 teams representing 70 universities in the United States and Canada, with 790 students participating in total. This year’s numbers represent the highest amount of applications submitted in the eleven years of the competition.
The teams will be expected to submit proposals that illustrate innovative approaches to five general elements: 1) planning context and analysis, 2) master land use plan, 3) urban design, 4) site specific illustrations of new development, and 5) development schedule and finances. Participants have received project briefing materials, including a comprehensive problem statement; background information on the site; market information; relevant existing design proposals; and other details, along with a list of materials required for team presentations. The competition is designed as an exercise; there is no intention that the students’ plans will be implemented as part of any revitalization of the site.
Four finalist teams and several honorable mentions will be named in late February. In the final phase of the competition, the student finalist teams will have the opportunity to expand their original schemes and respond in more detail. During this time, a member of each team will be brought to Minneapolis to tour the site and revise their presentations. In March, finalist team members will present their schemes to the competition jury members during a public forum in Minneapolis in early April. The event will culminate with the announcement of the winning team.
Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the competition, ULI will select 10 to 15 jurors from diverse backgrounds in real estate development. Jurors are often a strategic mix of land use experts, including developers, brokers, architects, urban designers, landscape architects, urban planners, and policy officials, among others. The list of jury members will be published at a later date.
For more information on the ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition, visit: http://udcompetition.org
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( www.uli.org ) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.