Preserving Dinkytown

Designating Dinkytown as a historic area may harm development for future residents.

The most recent draft of Dinkytown’s small-area plan includes a suggestion for historic preservation of the area, the Minnesota Daily reported Nov. 19.

Throughout this semester, concerns about increasing development in Dinkytown have sparked intense debate among students and local business owners, leading outgoing councilwoman Diane Hofstede to propose a four-block moratorium on development in the area.

Dinkytown Business Association President Skott Johnson told the Daily the association is wary of seeking historic status. Were the area to achieve that designation, it could become significantly harder for business and property owners to renovate Dinkytown buildings.

Dinkytown has been an important part of the college experience for every class at the University of Minnesota. Current students’ efforts to protect and preserve the area’s character and the University experience are understandable. However, we should be careful not to prevent future students from experiencing their own Dinkytown as well, whether it’s the Dinkytown of 2015, 2030 or 2050. While a select few landmark buildings in the area might warrant historic status, placing Dinkytown as a whole under historic designation will cripple necessary renovation and redevelopment. 

There is a role for density and development in Dinkytown, and in a neighborhood that changes with its residents, it’s important to preserve Dinkytown’s dynamism as well as its character.

Adding historic preservation to the area will hinder Dinkytown’s ability to grow and transform along with the University and its students.