City Council rejects Prospect Park historical designation

The Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association requested that the designation be denied.

Danielle Nordine

The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to deny historical designation for Prospect Park, honoring locals’ requests to skip the title. The Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association initially requested that the council deny the neighborhood’s local historical designation, as many residents found the guidelines too restrictive. City Council member Cam Gordon, Ward 2, nominated the neighborhood for designation in 2008, and the application has been under review ever since. PPERRIA requested the nomination after the city permitted the demolition of two properties in the neighborhood that may have been considered historical under a pending national historical designation application, Joe Ring, chair of PPERRIA’s historic designation committee, said. However, when the neighborhood was placed under interim protection while the application was being considered, many residents found the review process required for home improvements to be costly and time-consuming, Ring said. In the end, most people who went through the process got to do what they wanted to do, Gordon said, but the delay, the extra cost and the worry of ‘maybe this won’t go through’ caused some people to think ‘Maybe this is too much.’ ” In March 2010, the HPC voted to extend the interim protection to continue studying the area, but PPERRIA successfully appealed the extension. Prospect Park is still being considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a less restrictive designation that also offers perks such as tax credits. PPERRIA is also exploring a less stringent type of preservation called a conservation district, which would protect the area’s historical landmarks while still allowing residents to make changes to their properties and have input on protection rules. “What we’re looking for is more local community participation,” Ring said. “We want to work from the bottom up and find that common ground.” Prospect Park would be Minnesota’s first conservation district, said Jessie McClurg, a University of Minnesota master’s student studying heritage preservation. McClurg and architecture professor Greg Donofrio are currently researching the guidelines and effectiveness of other states’ conservation districts. The city would have to pass an ordinance to make the conservation district possible, Gordon said. Check Wednesday’s Daily for more details.