Greater Dinkytown Project aims to engage students with the community

A report of the project proposals, including community programming, business options, public spaces and improved transportation, will be completed in the spring.

Pedestrians walk through Dinkytown on Oct. 13, 2017. Business owners in the neighborhood are pushing for more security cameras in an effort to stem crime in the area.

Courtney Deutz

Pedestrians walk through Dinkytown on Oct. 13, 2017. Business owners in the neighborhood are pushing for more security cameras in an effort to stem crime in the area.

Miguel Octavio

A recent update to a Marcy-Holmes project that seeks to develop Dinkytown reveals residents desire a stronger connection to the community. 

The project, titled A Road Map for the Future of Greater Dinkytown, aims to improve the area based on feedback from residents. Three hundred students and community members submitted feedback and others attended a workshop last fall as part of the project. The results found respondents want more community programming, business options, public spaces and improved transportation. 

“Dinkytown has a lot of unrealized potential,” said Dave Feehan, a consultant with Civitas Consultants LLC involved on the project. “It doesn’t, right now, provide the kind of services that … the neighborhood or students need, but it could do that.” 

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Student Association and Preserve Historic Dinkytown are part of the collaborative effort. The project hopes to strengthen ties with the Dinkytown Business Alliance and the City of Minneapolis. 

Ideas from the project include more grocery and fresh food options, business incubators and a clinic center. Respondents said they wanted more clothing options and affordable housing. 

Bob Stableski, a former board member of the MHNA, presented a report on the findings Feb. 19 to the neighborhood organization. He said more entertainment venues or community engagement events like an expanded farmers market could boost involvement in the area and enhance its street life. 

“Those are ideas of what could be done. It could be a lot bigger,” Stableski said. “It could be a lot more vibrant than it is.”

Grant Simons, an MSA representative to the MHNA, said student feedback was important because they make up the majority of renters in the area. Simons said the results can help predict future student needs. 

“The generation of students right now is going to be different from the generation in the future,” Simons said. “We actually wanted to hear what people right now are thinking so that we can go back and see how things change.”

Simons hopes more outdoor spaces will be available for residents. More green space in the neighborhood, including improvements to Marcy Park and the Granary Corridor, were also proposed. 

The project strives to increase engagement among international students through events and businesses that cater to their needs. 

“I was so glad to attend the Greater Dinkytown project because it was my first time feeling like I was part of the community, even if I am an international student,” said Lynn Huang, neighborhood liaison adviser for Off Campus Living. 

Huang said more housing and public transportation resources from the project would benefit international students. 

While the survey was supported by the Good Neighbor Fund, Stableski said plans to fund the improvements are still in the works.  

“The next step is really to get some people together who are willing to make all this happen,” Stableski said.