Letter to the Editor, MinnPost
Citizens groups like CIDNA should be praised for constructively engaging in the neighborhood development process, not maligned. Community residents and volunteers who came out on a -22 degree night January 6 to engage with sophisticated for-profit developers deserve better coverage by MinnPost than Marlys Harris has provided.
In her piece “Neighborhood skeptically eyeballs Lake Calhoun apartment design” Harris misleads the reader by suggesting that CIDNA would help to obstruct Mayor Hodges’ vision to increase our population to 500,000 residents. She states “If goings on at a recent meeting of the Land Use and Development Committee of the Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association (CIDNA) are any indication, however, Mayor Betsy Hodges may have as much difficulty getting there as Christian, the hero of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ faced on his trek to the Celestial City.”
MinnPost fails to recognize that CIDNA, already a high-density neighborhood, has supported high-density projects on every site that has been proposed for development during the past 10 years: Weisman, Loop City Condos and Ackerberg/Village Green. We have constructively engaged in the process and sought creative solutions with developers while ensuring that large projects respect the zoning code and the surrounding character of the neighborhood.
For the Lander project on the Weisman site, MinnPost characterizes CIDNA as “modifying the plan so many times that economics no longer made sense”. This statement is blatantly false. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Lander voluntarily reduced the size of his project by 25% (to 84 feet and 150,000 gross square feet) after the City Council rejected his appeal to accept a proposed 116-foot tower in the 35-foot Shoreland Overlay District. CIDNA quickly embraced Lander’s revised proposal and the City expeditiously approved his revised project. The worst recession since the Depression subsequently intervened to stop his project and many others in the City. MinnPost then states that CIDNA “zapped” Ted Bigos’ three subsequent proposals on the Weisman site. The only proposal that Bigos in fact finally presented was a 135-foot tower, which was far higher than the 35- and 56-foot height limits, and he was unwilling to negotiate about any other alternatives. Harris’ article “Why there is an empty lot across from Lake Calhoun” is similarly extremely misleading and inaccurate about this topic.
Yes, CIDNA carefully reviews all development proposals in the neighborhood. Indeed, we are concerned that the proposed Trammell Crow project would be the first tall tower (129 feet) approved in the Lakes Area (other than Mosaic) in the entire history of the current zoning height limits. We are concerned that the developer of the neighboring Loop Condos respected the 56-foot height limit while Trammell Crow so far does not. We understand that attendees at our January 6 meeting are fed up with traffic jams from 40,000 cars a day at the busiest intersection in the city. And it is reasonable due diligence for CIDNA ask what Trammell Crow’s 6-story idea would look like.
We encourage you to see cidnalanduse.wordpress.com for proof that we have supported development. Please follow our current projects. This is important work for the city.
We believe that MinnPost should value neighborhoods with a proven record of supporting thoughtful density. Harris seems to have an agenda to discredit our work with no basis in fact. We expect respectful and balanced reporting from your fine news organization.
As we celebrate Mayor Hodges’ inauguration tonight, let’s all think about One Minneapolis. This is not a story of pitting neighborhoods against developers as MinnPost has portrayed. We seek collaboration and creative solutions regarding density, but this does not mean that neighborhoods should accept any proposal presented by developers.
Craig Westgate, President, Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood
Bob Corrick, Chair, Land Use and Development Committe
See our Letter Published in MinnPost