When I first heard of the development plans at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 2nd Street in downtown Minneapolis a couple years ago I was excited to hear about both affordable housing and a 55+ senior housing community bringing diversity to the downtown housing mix. But I confess that what excited me the most was the creative way this development was using the history of the site as a railroad corridor to inspire the creation of a "woonerf" connecting to the riverfront and Water Works Signature Park scheduled to be built 2017-2023. So what is a "woonerf"?
"Woonerf" is a concept that originated in the Netherlands that roughly translates as "living streets," viewing the street as a social space rather than just a route for cars, trucks and buses. There are no curbs, streets are curved, there is landscaping, parking is dispersed… all designed to make a driver feel uncomfortable and slow down making it safe for all modes of transportation including pedestrians, cars, and bikes.
Mill City Quarter affordable housing at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 2nd Street is already open and 70% leased. Abiitan 55+ entrance deposit community on 2nd Street is now accepting reservations, with plans to open in December 2016.
The Woonerf between the two buildings will create a connection to the riverfront, which is so near yet so far because of lack of a connection from the bluff. Now basically a private curved parking area closed off with a fence at the end, the corridor that will become Minneapolis's first "woonerf" won't be complete until it makes its connection to the riverfront and Water Works Park, a cutting-edge mix of recreation, ecology, and cultural heritage.
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – Downtown Minneapolis Realtor