Archive for Lake Street

How a BID might work on Lake Street

All property owners inside a designated district are assessed a fee as part of their property tax payment like the Special Service Districts, but the money is pooled and managed by a board of property representatives who ensure that sidewalks stay uniformly cleaner, that greenery is planted and cared for, that snow and graffiti are quickly cleaned, and that vendors, festivals and other activities are coordinated. The districts might also employ uniformed ambassadors (on bikes) to offer tourist information and provide extra “eyes on the street”.

How much money might be raised within a roughly 140-block area running from Mississippi River Blvd to Lake Calhoun, and 31st Street to 27th Street?

Businesses themselves will drive the agenda and the district’s accountability. Services — and costs — may be greater within the commercial district nodes and lessen toward the periphery of those nodes.

Can Lake Street compete for new jobs and new residents, visitors and shoppers against downtown and suburban lifestyle centers and corporate campuses that provide a lush and pristine atmosphere? The answer is yes. Lake Street has authenticity, cultural attractions and good restaurants on its side. But to fully compete, it must maintain and build the nice atmosphere that people expect.

More feet on the sidewalk means more dollars in the cash register

Focus on the pedestrian atmosphere has grown sharper as Lake Street has undertaken a conversion of sorts. Transportation planning has begun to recast Lake Street as less an auto-only eight-hour district to a place that emphasizes transit, walking and biking as well as cars. The aim is a nearly 24-hour Lake Street. But to get there the walking atmosphere must continue to be vastly improved.

The theory works this way: beautiful sidewalks draw more people; more people discourage illegal and questionable activity; retail revives, and success feeds on itself.


The clearest need is for central governance. Property owners are rightly frustrated when, for example, a tree dies on their sidewalk and no one knows who’s responsible for replacing it — let alone watering it. Now, there’s no clear accountability for Lake Street’s sidewalks. The city, Park Board, Metro Transit and property owners each point to one another to take responsibility. A Business Improvement District would end the confusion over management and give Lake Street a better chance to compete.

Why can’t the city do this job? The answer is complex. Start with the confusion over who owns what: city-owned or owned privately. It’s a mish-mash. Budget cuts and union rules make it hard for city workers to do a good enough job. The Park Board is responsible for most trees and plants, but the same shortcomings apply. Even if more money could be found to shift to Lake Street, the other city wards would scream foul. The only recourse, really, is to tap Lake Street businesses — as other cities have already discovered.

Parking is the Beginning and Ending Experience of the Commercial Corridor for Most of your Customers

Lake Street Council’s goal is to identify the key opportunities to improve that experience.

Our first and foremost assumption is that vacant parking spaces in a fully leased project do not benefit anyone and have a negative impact on the built environment.

Lake Street Council is in the process of identifying parking lot ownership from Mississippi River Blvd. to Lake Calhoun.  Key areas of opportunity are 27th & Lake, and Bloomington & Lake.

We are studying the opportunities and challenges to shared parking. The Urban Land Institute has done significant work in this area and we plan to tap into their expertise. In order for shared parking to be most effective, it is important that all spaces be conveniently located and accessible to all users. We will measure walking distances from parking areas to destinations and we will explore various techniques of managing parking to encourage the sharing of parking, including parking charges. This exploration will cover the pros and cons of customer parking charges and employee parking charges.

To create a parking district, our shared parking analysis will require projecting parking needs for our specific combination of businesses in each of these areas, including surveying existing conditions and discussing parking management strategies with all the stakeholders, to ensure that shared parking can occur as assumed in our study phase. We assume that these conversations will result in additional recommendations for directional signage and improved design of our pedestrian system.

Additional funding will be required and may include municipal bonding, additional metering or increased cost, CDBG funding, MNDoT, and TOD funding. This commercial corridor initiative that is expected to result in the establishment of a parking district will also require the business community to contribute.

While we are exploring Parking Improvement Districts to manage a perceived parking problem in specific areas, the districts when established should pro-actively shape increased development in a more positive way.

Small BIDs rely on residents too…

Small BIDs like those proposed for Lake Street rely extensively on residents who consider the improvement of the commercial corridor to be a matter of civic interest. Participating residents may work on committees and directly on Lake Street improvement measures. Like many of our corridor property owners, all of our residents are local voters and their participation adds political weight to the BID’s efforts to obtain financial or regulatory support from governing bodies.

Lake Street Key Tasks

  • a parking plan (the cost of which needs to be shared by the City of Minneapolis) and its implementation, including design and installation of signs indicating parking locations;
  • a corridor stewardship plan, including design of gateway signs, sidewalk cleaning and oversight of lighting maintenance;
  • comparison review and advocacy for changes to improve local business regulations and zoning;
  • administration of Great Streets facade improvement matching grant program;
  • involve residents as well as business interests in attracting investment in additional destination retail; and
  • aggressively market corridor shopping, eating, and cultural venues.


more enlightening information about Lake Street work on the BID collaborative coming soon!