U neighborhood to receive artistic face lift

Max Rust

Ties between two of Minneapolis’ oldest neighborhoods will soon be strengthened by a pair of community initiatives.
City officials and Marcy-Holmes residents are finalizing plans to enhance land adjacent to the pedestrian Stone Arch Bridge that connects the Marcy-Holmes to downtown. The projects aim to spruce up what is now considered by many to be a blighted industrial pocket.
Though construction won’t begin until spring, city officials have secured $725,000 to lay a brick surface on a segment of Main Street, a road now pocked by potholes.
Bricks will extend down Main Street — running near a metal factory, an Archer Daniels Midland plant and the University’s steam plant — to Sixth Avenue Southeast. They will then curve into the Stone Arch Bridge and end in a cul-de-sac.
Bricks were chosen to incorporate an old-style look to the area that storekeeper Franklin Steele first settled in 1837. The area was later called St. Anthony and is considered Minneapolis’ birthplace.
Joe Fusco, the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood-revitalization program coordinator, said the goal is to “soften the industrial edge” of the area.
The new road will also better connect the area with the commercial segment of Main Street known as St. Anthony Main, said Richard Victor, senior project coordinator for the Minneapolis Community Development Agency.
The road will complement another project to overhaul an adjacent segment of Marcy-Holmes along Sixth Avenue Southeast.
This second project will add artwork and fresh landscaping. Designers hope the renovated avenue will attract bikers and others using the trails to University and Sixth avenues, an intersection that is quickly becoming a busy retail area.
A recent $50,000 grant will fund the artistic portion of the redesign. Neighbors will choose an artist to create a visual scheme after reviewing proposals from artists at the University and elsewhere.
Eleven such art displays are now in Minneapolis. One project located in Van Cleve Park is a sound sculpture made from a series of wind pipes.
The neighborhood is receiving additional assistance in deciding how to frame the artwork with greenery.
The National Park Department is helping the community choose landscaping features for the project. It plans to use native prairie vegetation, a practice that has become popular in the past decade.
“The use of native vegetation is becoming a more environmentally appropriate approach where applicable,” said Susan Overson, a planner and landscape architect with the National Park Service.
Maintaining native vegetation requires fewer herbicides and pesticides and also reduces riverbank erosion because it captures more water runoff than traditional grass lawns.
“We hope that the whole greening effort will make the connection between the Stone Arch Bridge and the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood a clear link for bikes and pedestrians,” said Jan Morlock, the University’s community relations director. “That’s got to be a benefit to the U because it’s going to make a more beautiful community.”
Morlock said the University will work with all parties involved to choose materials for the projects and incorporate the steam plant into the design.
One possibility, she said, is to have a historical placard explaining the history of the plant.

Max Rust covers communities and welcomes comments at [email protected]