Give Your Input on a Community Vision for Development at Penn and Lowry

2007 Community design plan

2007 Community design plan
This rendering is based on community input in 2007 on potential Penn-Lowry Development Click to view the complete plan

On Monday, residents (including you!) will be able to meet with Hennepin County staff to discuss the soon to be released Request for Proposal for the development of the Northwest and Northeast corners of the Penn and Lowry intersection. Through their meetings with residents and business owners, they’ve put together the following Vision Statement to reflect community input and priorities for any development that would happen on those corners. Some of the input used is from a 2007 plan put together through resident input for that intersection (see image to the right). You can view that plan here. Take a look and decide whether this reflects your input and priorities and leave a comment below, email us or call us at the CNA office 612-588-1155, and make sure your input is heard and this Vision Statement truly reflects all voices. Better yet, come out on Monday to the Community Development Committee at 6:30pm at CNA, 3333 Penn Ave N.



Summary Vision Statement from the Document:

The Lowry/Penn vision is a multi-story, mixed-use building(s) that is visually compatible with the neighborhood and supports transit ridership.  The community vision includes an opening or clear connection to Cleveland Park in the northwest quadrant of the intersection. 

Complete Vision Statement Document:

A Community Vision for the Northwest and Northeast Quadrants of the Lowry and Penn Avenues Intersection

The community vision described here expresses the land use and character that is desired for the county owned property in the northeast and northwest quadrant of this intersection.  The vision is compatible with the transformative changes of recent years which include the reconstruction of the Lowry Avenue roadway in 2009 and the construction of the multi-story development in the southeast quadrant of the intersection.  The new development is occupied by an Aldi grocery store, the Dollar Store, office space, Subway, and All Washed Up laundry mat and balances well with the existing businesses across the street–Northend Hardware, Ancestry Books, and Lowry café.

To further transform the intersection, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) C-Line is proposed to begin service in 2017.   The C Line, is Metro Transit’s arterial bus rapid transit regional system connecting Brooklyn Center, North Minneapolis and downtown Minneapolis via Penn Avenue. The C Line will provide faster transit service with off-board fare payment, raised platforms, and transit signal priority.  The permanent BRT stations planned for the northeast and northwest quadrants of the intersection will have a heated shelters, lighting, ticket machines, real time information and enhanced security similar to a light rail station platform.

Community services at this location include Cleveland Park, Lucy Craft Laney School, and the United States Post Office.  This area has convenient access to Interstates 94 and 394, plus Highway 55, all major highways in the Minneapolis-St Paul area.  It offers a diverse place to live with a rich history and a range of housing options including beautiful older homes, stately homes on boulevards, and newly constructed green homes and apartments.    This area is also within close proximity to North Memorial Hospital, the Mississippi River, downtown Minneapolis, and the Grand Round National Scenic Byway.

The Vision

This community vision for the Lowry and Penn intersection seeks to express the land use and character of development that is desired for the northeast and northwest quadrants of the intersection.  The vision is a synthesis of prior planning efforts for the intersection to identify community priorities and should be used to provide guidance.  It is not intended to be an absolute requirement for developers to meet.

The Lowry/Penn vision is a multi-story, mixed-use building(s) that is visually compatible with the neighborhood and supports transit ridership.  The community vision includes an opening or clear connection to Cleveland Park in the northwest quadrant of the intersection. 

To carry out the vision for the Lowry/Penn intersection, the following key objectives were developed to embody neighborhood compatibility, support transit ridership and implement the goals of the Lowry Avenue Strategic Plan and The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth.

Carrying out the Vision:  Key Objectives

  1. Implement the goals of the Lowry Avenue Strategic Plan and The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth (the comprehensive plan)
  • The Penn-Lowry intersection is designated in the Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth as a Neighborhood Commercial Node that supports medium to high-density residential and mixed-use with neighborhood serving retail uses.
  • The Lowry Avenue Strategic Plan recommends consolidating commercial activity on Lowry Avenue at the Penn-Lowry and Emerson/Fremont intersections.
  • The development goals and objectives of this vision statement are intended to complement, enhance, or exceed the development objectives in Chapter 2 of the Lowry Avenue Strategic Plan, the applicable policies of The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth, and the design standards in the Minneapolis zoning code.
  1. Embody Neighborhood Compatible Site and Building Design

The site and buildings should be designed to be blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.  Maintaining architectural compatibility with the surrounding area does not mean replicating what already exists.  The project should be designed to contribute to the character of the neighborhoods and to avoid negative impacts to surrounding properties.  The result should be a rich variety of architecture and landscaping that share qualities common to the neighborhood.

  • Study building placement’s ability to connect Cleveland Park with the Lowry/Penn intersection while remaining at the corner of Lowry/Penn intersection.
  • Improve the linkage to the post office. The post office at Lowry and Queen is a community service and currently disconnected from the Lowry and Penn intersection.
  • Study relocating the Liquor Store or bringing it closer to the Penn-Lowry corner. Bringing it to the intersection will reduce the distance between anchor businesses at this intersection and provide opportunity for a better buffer between the store and nearby housing.
  • Building scale adjustments and design elements should be utilized to make the transition from new multi-story development to existing single family homes.
  • Synchronize landscaping with the adjacent Lowry Avenue streetscape.
  • Building architecture and materials that blend the historic character of the avenue.
  • Avoid long, uninterrupted wall planes. Stagger setbacks with respect to adjacent properties to avoid an undesirable tunnel effect.  Articulate side wall planes to create variety and reduce perceived scale.
  • Window placement that encourages “eyes on the street”.
  • Incorporate appropriate architectural features, such as ornamentation and changes in color or material to add interest for the pedestrian.
  1. Support Transit Ridership

The Lowry and Penn intersection has the seventh highest transit ridership in the metropolitan area demonstrating that transit is a transportation choice for many people who live near and frequent the Lowry and Penn node.  This intersection is currently served by high-frequency bus service (the #19 bus) and will soon be served by the C-Line, an arterial bus-rapid transit (BRT) line. This will increase the amount of bus trips through this area per day, and will also make it more convenient for people from outside the area to come here as a destination.  BRT station stops are planned for the northeast and northwest quadrants of the intersection.  It is important that any new development at this intersection consider the following features to support transit ridership.

  • Adequate setback of the building from the sidewalk to allow for queueing space.
  • Building window placement that provides easy viewing of the stop.
  • Because buildings are climate controlled and bus stops are not, consider incorporating the transit stop into the development.
  • Plan for Maintenance. All transit riders are also pedestrians.  Sidewalks are well maintained, snow and ice is removed regularly.
  • Provide bike parking facilities.
  • Consider a drop and ride location for BRT riders.