Dinkytown is changing, and a quick walk down Fifth Street Southeast proves it. Two new apartment buildings, The Venue at Dinkytown and The Marshall, are changing the landscape of the neighborhood’s commercial district. For better or for worse, demographic shifts and a population boom are imminent as new, larger apartments infiltrate the University of Minnesota community.
Corporations are catching onto the idea of local living, too. Target announced last Friday it will open a one-of-a-kind concept store at the base of The Marshall called TargetExpress. Although Target has a strong foothold with older suburban shoppers, its newest foray into Dinkytown must prove itself by serving community needs.
In “Spider-Man,” Peter Parker’s uncle famously said, “With great urban density growth comes great responsibility.” OK, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that, but he has a point: If we want to develop a livable, pedestrian-friendly city where cars are no longer necessary, businesses and communities need to work together to provide the necessary amenities often seen in the suburbs. The three most important things are jobs, recreation and food.
Luckily, in Minneapolis, many residents have easy access to the first two. The city unemployment rate is at a comparatively low 4.6 percent as of December. Last year, Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore index reported that Minneapolis had the top urban park system in the country. Many Minneapolitans have a shorter commute compared to others statewide, and all residences are within six blocks of a city park.
What many residents don’t have, however, is easy access to food. In many areas in the city, grocery providers are few and far between.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some areas in the Marcy-Holmes, Como, West Bank and Prospect Park neighborhoods have poor access to supermarkets. For Dinkytown to become a truly livable and amenity-rich neighborhood, this needs to change.
TargetExpress can be that much-needed grocery provider for Dinkytown. Target has proven itself with Super Target stores and its grocery additions to normal stores. Prices also need to be competitive with those at the Target in the Quarry shopping area to create a fully livable local neighborhood.
Contrary to popular belief, college students need more than a can of soup and a box of rice from CVS to survive healthily. We need produce and a variety of food choices. It was this realization that birthed the Food Coalition, a group of University students working to increase access to quality food in the area. Without extra effort, TargetExpress could meet the grocery needs of current Dinkytowners and the hundreds of future residents in one unique store.
Target spokeswoman Sarah VanNevel told the Pioneer Press TargetExpress will carry fresh groceries like lettuce, chicken breasts and prepared foods catering to a young demographic. While this would be a good start, Dinkytown does not need another pharmacy carrying snacks and drinks. The University community deserves a full-service grocery store, its first in more than 15 years. TargetExpress could fill that need if the concept store is designed with these needs in mind.