Overbuilding Dinkytown

A plethora of new developments are decimating Dinkytown.

Connor Nikolic

Since the completion of our on-campus football stadium, the Stadium Village neighborhood has been running rampant with new developments in order to capitalize on the proximity to the sports venue.

Opus Group built Stadium Village Flats in 2012 and completed construction on the Station on Washington this fall. The developer recently started construction on its next project, the Venue in Dinkytown. Located next to Riverton’s Chateau Apartments, the Venue is scheduled to be completed by fall 2014.

Doran Companies, like Opus, has been working to build an abundance of new student residences in the University of Minnesota area. The Edge on Oak, The Knoll, The Bridges in Dinkytown, Sydney Hall and 412 Lofts have all sprung up in the past three years, along with renovations it made to the Dinkydome in 2009.

Doran Companies CEO Kelly Doran has also announced plans to possibly build a hotel in the heart of Dinkytown, displacing local businesses Mesa Pizza, Camdi Restaurant, University LifeCare Center and Dinkytown Tattoo Shop.

I regularly stop by Mesa for a quick slice, but if they were relocated? I just don’t know how dramatically that would hurt their business. I’m still downtrodden about Sally’s being torn down for the year; losing Mesa will only further dampen the student view of local developers.

Look Doran, I see where you’re coming from. You feel that you’ve already built just about all of the apartment buildings you can feasibly squeeze into the Dinkytown area. But really, your next course of action is to build a six-story complex to tower over the neighborhood and move some of the oldest and most recognized area businesses? That doesn’t seem like a responsible business decision to me.

The majority of University upperclassmen and graduate students take advantage of off-campus housing options, including apartments, greek housing and rented units in the Dinkytown, Stadium Village, Como and Marcy-Holmes neighborhoods.

Eventually, these developers will reach a point where the amount of rooms they have to fill will exceed the number of students exploring off-campus housing opportunities. With the number of apartment complexes Opus and Doran alone have built in the past few years, that tipping point is becoming more and more of a topic that must be addressed.

No one knows when or how the neighborhood was first granted the moniker “Dinkytown.” However, it is believed that the name originally stemmed from the trolleys and rail cars that once ran through the area. These were referred to as “Dinkys.”

The name has become synonymous with the old Dinky storefront businesses, some of which have been standing over these streets for more than 50 years. These staples are more valuable to the area than an additional apartment complex or a hotel. Hopefully, Doran and Opus will come to realize this before they cripple these neighborhoods to shells of their former selves.

Doran Companies and Opus Group have built some excellent complexes, investing millions locally. Now all I am asking of them is to be content with what they have. Dinkytown doesn’t need a new hotel. Stadium Village is already full of housing options. They need to put their millions toward maintaining the businesses that have made these areas great for so many years. And really, these neighborhoods need developers to wise up and realize when they have a good thing.