Sections of Uptown Minneapolis have been torn up in recent months as the city of Minneapolis reconstructed six blocks of Hennepin Avenue from Lake Street to 36th Street. For local businesses, the worst started in early August when the city tore up the key retail block between Lake and 31st Street. Calhoun Square is on the east side, while stores such as Apple and Magers & Quinn Booksellers sit on the west. Sidewalks were removed, making access challenging. (The $3.9 million project was slated to wrap in November.)
“Traffic is down about 25 percent,” says Doug Huemoeller, owner of Kitchen Window, a longtime Calhoun Square tenant.
“I’m just disappointed in the way the project is being managed. You’re talking about one city block that’s literally taking three months,” says Huemoeller, who is frustrated the city is treating the block as if it were an ordinary street, not a major commercial thoroughfare.
He’s skeptical of the finished project, which will eliminate street parking between Lake and 31st. Bike lanes will be added in both directions for the six-block stretch. Parking will no longer be allowed on the west side of Hennepin from 31st to 36th, a largely residential area.
For Jennifer Lisburg, owner of La La Ice Cream on Hennepin near 32nd Street, business has deteriorated. “This started in May, and this summer business was down like 10 percent but we stayed pretty busy.” That changed when a separate project closed a section of 32nd. “That was just a killer. Business took a big nosedive.”
“Parking spots were removed to improve safety and comfort for pedestrians and livability for the neighborhood. The corridor will be more friendly for walkers, bikers, and transit riders,” says city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie, reflecting current priorities.
Huemoeller believes the city didn’t give thought to how it would affect businesses: “For a business district, why would you take away street parking for a bike lane?”