Critiquing the First Woonerf in Minneapolis

You be the judge: is this innovative land use in Downtown Minneapolis a woonerf or a glorified parking lot?

1 minute read

April 5, 2017, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Surface Parking

A before picture of the parking lot on the corner of Third Avenue and Second Street in Minneapolis's milling district. | August Schwerdfeger / Flickr

"Minneapolis has its first woonerf," writes Peter Callaghan. "Or does it?"

Callaghan explains the woonerf term (for people who "aren’t on a planning commission or land-use groupies") as "a Dutch import that translates as 'living street' (sometimes 'living yard')," serving as a street or alleyway shared by all modes.

"When it comes to Minneapolis’ first woonerf, however, it might be hard to envision such an idyllic scene," cautions Callaghan, however. One of the main problems with the woonerf is its devotion to parking—80 head-in parking stalls in all.

Michael Schroeder, the assistant superintendent for planning at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, is quoted in the article saying the woonerf might be better described as a "nice parking lot, a REALLY nice parking lot."

In speculating whether "Minneapolis’ first woonerf woonerf-y enough to actually be called a woonerf" Callaghan looks into the complex planning and land use process that produced the new facility. The final proclamation in the article comes from Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman, an early supporter of the project, who says, "If we had done nothing, we’d still be looking at a 400-car surface parking lot. Don’t let the great get in the way of the good."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in MinnPost

Large historic homes and white picket fences line a street.

The End of Single-Family Zoning in Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County is the latest jurisdiction in the country to effectively end single-family zoning.

March 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Amtrak Acela Express train passing through Harrison station in Newark, New Jersey

‘Train Daddy’ Andy Byford to Oversee Amtrak’s High-Speed Rail Efforts

Byford, who formerly ran NYC Transit and Transport for London, could bring renewed vigor to the agency’s plans to expand regional rail in the United States.

March 28, 2023 - StreetsBlog NYC

Buses in downtown Seattle on the dedicated 3rd Avenue bus lanes

Seattle Bus Lane Cameras Capture Over 100,000 Violations

An automated traffic enforcement pilot program caught drivers illegally using transit lanes more than 110,000 times in less than a year.

March 28, 2023 - Axios

View of Statue of Liberty with New York City skyline in background

Immigration Grows, Population Drops in Many U.S. Counties

International immigration to the country’s most populous areas tripled even as major metropolitan areas continued to lose population.

1 hour ago - The New York Times

Detroit Sports Arena

$616 Million in Development Incentives Approved for District Detroit

The “Transformational Brownfield” incentives approved by the Detroit City Council for the $1.5 billion District Detroit still require approval by the state.

2 hours ago - Detroit Free Press

A red sign reads, “Welcome to New Canaan.”

Affordable Housing Development Rejected for Lack of Third Staircase in Connecticut

The New Canaan Planning Commission rejected a development proposal, including 31 below-market-rate apartments, for lack of a third staircase, among other reasons, at a time when advocates are pushing to relax two-staircase requirements.

3 hours ago - Stamford Advocate

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.