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Minneapolis Riverfront News

Covering life, work, and play in the Historic Mill District and Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront neighborhoods. Have an opinion, local news or events to share?  Contact us.


Live Tonight - Minneapolis Riverfront Design Presentations

Tonight at 7:00 PM.  If you don't have tickets, you can view the presentation webcast live on the Walker's MR|DC, where it will also be archived.

Two-hundred and fifty free tickets became available on Tuesday, January 4, and by Thursday afternoon all available seats had been reserved.  The Walker will have an in-person wait list starting at 6:00pm prior to the lecture for those who check in at the box office.  Luckily, the event will be webcast live and archived at

The Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition finalists are:

Ken Smith Workshop | New York City
Stoss Landscape Urbanism | Boston
Tom Leader Studio | Berkeley
Turenscape | Beijing

The teams' collective work includes award-winning riverfront and industrial reclamation park projects, in places such as Shanghai, Memphis, Toronto, New York City, Dubai, Milwaukee and London.  Fifty-five design teams responded to the RFQ.


Paying Tribute to Betsy Doermann, Champion for the Mill District

Dave and I did not have the honor of meeting Betsy Doermann, nor were we familiar with the influence she had on the Mill District as it stands today.  However, when we were notified of Betsy's recent passing by Mill City Museum Director, Laura Salveson, we felt Betsy deserved a tribute in Mill City Times. 

Per Laura, "Betsy was a force of life, and will be remembered for her passion and for her work on many projects for the Saint Anthony Falls Heritage Board and the  Minnesota Historical Society, but perhaps most of all for her tireless work in coordination with many others to open the Stone Arch Bridge, opening the James J. Hill House to the public, Mill City Museum and engaging people in the story of the Saint Anthony Falls Heritage Zone and the redevelopment of the Minneapolis riverfront."

Betsy's obituary is available online.


Thoughtful Responses to Minneapolis Riverfront Design Survey

The Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition conducted a survey of Minneapolis residents on their thoughts and hopes for the Minneapolis Riverfront.  It was a rather long survey (I participated) covering a wide range of topics.  The survey results have been posted, and what struck me while reading the report was the time people spent giving detailed, meaningful answers.  There is passion for the future of our river, and I hope the jury for the design competition takes the time to thoroughly review what the respondents had to say.  The people behind the scenes of this competition are doing a great job so far.

Here's a small sample of questions and answers:

What recreational activities do you think are missing or are too far away from you?

"As mentioned, the northside is isolated unless one gets in a car or on a bus from the rest of the city trails and parks. The river front design should not be just linear as it currently appears to be. It needs to be designed to draw people to the river, to offer all that connection, especially those neighborhoods that are only a couple of miles from the river."

"We need a better canoe and kayak system, either private or public or both. We need better trail connections, completing the Mississippi River trail through N and NE, and between Main Street and the University of MN."

What kind of cultural activities do you think are missing or are not well represented in your community?

"Minneapolis has good cultural opportunities including excellent art museums, theaters, and orchestras. It is one of the reasons that I decided to move here. The idea of a bandshell on the Mississippi with the Minnesota Symphony performing on a warm summer night (with no planes flying overhead like Lake Harriet) is very attractive to me."

"Minneapolis has great immigrant communities from east Africa and Latin America, and would love to see more celebrations involving their culture. Also celebrate the past immigrant cultures who are still present today."

What excites you about this portion of the Mississippi and its banks?

"The potential of the river, if properly developed, to have a positive influence on the surrounding neighborhoods. This includes the well-to-do residents in condos near downtown and the poorer people who live within a stone's throw of the river but hardly ever experience it."

"The beauty of the rushing water and of the green shady trees along the river's banks make me feel a deep inner happiness, a sense of peace and of faith. I grew up near creeks and trees, and spent countless afternoons alone in the dappled sunlight, watching the water ripple over the rocks and fallen branches. Now as an adult, when I look out of my condo window at the Mississippi River, framed by the cottonwoods on the banks, I feel at home in my heart and so grateful to be alive--here."

"It creates a space for reflection in the heart of the city, a place where people meet nature every day, and a place that is constantly changing. It provides a wide open view that showcases our downtown and our historic milling district. Some days it is mysteriously misty with vapor, and the next it is a jjigsaw puzzle with jagged ice chunks. It provides a natural, linear feature for people to exercise and watch nature, and to understand how central water and nature are to our health. It is a vivid connector, while it appears to divide our community."

What brings you to the river?

"Many things. The need to commute to work, the desire for exercise and fresh air, the opportunity to be in a crowd of people, the chance to take a nice walk to a play at the Guthrie or to the downtown library without getting on a bus or driving a car."

"My nose, I usually end up there when out on walks - its a lovely destination and my best option from my house - do I go south the busy street and White Castle? North to the railroad tracks and industrial buildins? west through endless residential? or east to the gorgeous always changing infamous Mississipp? Its a pretty easy call."

What is the greatest impediment to your getting to the river?

On the west bank near downtown, the development along the river has been done in such a way that it forms a Great Wall between the city and the river. In sequence there are Gold Medal Park, the Guthrie, the old mill area, the RiverWest condos, the US Post Office, and the Federal Reserve. Each of these buildings/developments is at least two city blocks in length. This dead ends many of the streets that would otherwise terminate at the river. Granted, because of the elevation change it would have been difficult for these streets to end right at the river and the train tracks (now removed) made access historically difficult, but some better planning (Gold Medal Park, the Guthrie, RiverWest and the Federal Reserve aren't that old) could have made the path from the city to the river much more obvious and inviting. The Post Office doesn't have to be there any more (at least not as an industrial site with heavy trucks coming and going) and the Federal Reserve is mostly empty space these days because we use credit cards instead of paper checks and money (Take a tour in the summer and check it out. They are going out of business.).

What would compel you to go there (river or parkland above St. Anthony Falls) more often?

"I personally would like to see a series of unique experiences at different locations consistent with the fact that the river is flowing through a developed area and not a meandering across the wide open spaces. I live in the city because I want activity and I welcome development at the river that will draw more people to this area."

"Continuous trails and paths along both sides of the river with a natural shoreline, wetlands and trees. Residential communities along the river would add to the draw because it would bring additional people and activities. There should be places to stop for coffee, snacks and meals. Canoe and kayak rentals similar to bike rentals would be a nice feature so everyone does not have to bring their own canoe if they want to go for a short paddle on the river. There should be wildlife areas along the river that provide habitat but also enhance the opportunity to see and enjoy the beauty of nature."


Wines of France - Seminar Tonight at Sorella Wines & Spirits

Time: 5:30pm-7:00pm

Location: 1010 Washington Avenue South

Presented by Stephen Gaucher, President of Wine Adventures, De Moines, Iowa.

Stephen specializes in small, traditional French producers from both the prestige appellations and lesser-known regions. He has been a perrenial favorite at tastings and seminars both at Sorella and Liquor Depot. This seminar will feature selections from Champagne, the Loire, the Rhone, Lanquedoc and Bordeaux.

Please call the store, 612-339-4040, to reserve your space; space is limited to the first 22 people to respond for each event.


City Gardens Flower Mill - The Place to go for Unique Valentine's Arrangements and More

City Gardens Flower Mill is a wonderful floral and gift shop in the Mill District, located at 231 10th Avenue South in the Bridgewater Lofts retail section.  They serve the greater Minneapolis & Saint Paul areas and surrounding communities.

Dan and Kaia Seefelt opened the store in 2008, with the philosophy of offering only the finest floral arrangements and gifts, backed by friendly and prompt service.   Think 'unique' and envision fresh and bold.

City Gardens Flower Mill carries a large inventory of fresh flowers and tropicals, along with an extensive gift line and greeting cards.  They create contemporary and traditional arrangements, European/dish gardens, high-style floral arrangements and silk arrangements, along with gourmet, fruit and gift baskets.

Prior to opening City Gardens Flower Mill, Dan and Kaia worked at Flowers by Reuven in New York, where Dan was Head Floral Designer on contracts with shows such as All My Children, One Life to Live, Ryan's Hope and Regis and Kathy Lee.  (Married 16 years, Dan and Kaia shared their first kiss in the flower cooler at Flowers by Reuven - just a sweet side note since we're nearing Valentine's.) 

Valentine's Day Ideas and Tips

Dan and Kaia can help you make this a memorable year for your Valentine. 

If you're looking for traditional roses, you'll find ultra fresh roses that arrive at the store the day after they're cut, with multiple colors to choose from.  Looking for something non-traditional?  City Gardens Flower Mill is your place for exotic orchids from the Philippines.  How about something between roses and exotic?  Consider a French country centerpiece, which is a tightly packed, low arrangement.  For more ideas, please call the shop at 612-332-7377 or email them at   They recommend placing your Valentine's order a week in advance, and consider delivery a day or two prior to the 14th. 

We've been extremely pleased with the arrangements from City Gardens Flower Mill.  When Dave and I stopped in the shop this past weekend, they were in the process of decorating for the Valentine's holiday.  Below are a few shots:







Mill City Times Welcomes Victoria Rico as a New Contributor

We are excited to have Victoria Rico as a new contributor to Mill City Times.  Her ongoing yoga-related series will include a wide range of topics, such as:

  • Success Stories
  • Upcoming Workshops
  • Yoga Philosophy
  • Yoga Playlists
  • Bio's of Minneapolis Yogis
  • Yoga sequencing
  • Videos

With over 400 hours of teacher's training through CorePower Yoga and the Green Lotus Yoga and Healing Center, Victoria is certified to teach Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative, Hot Yoga, Hot Power Fusion, and Yoga Sculpt. Combining her love of healthy living with yoga and life long learning, Victoria creates yoga classes and workshops to refresh, stimulate and challenge the yoga practitioner.

Victoria says: "Yoga is a several thousand-year-old practice of physical, mental and spiritual discipline. I am honored to be a part of this great chain of wisdom. I invite you to join me in a class to share yoga traditions and asana training."

Victoria worked in the health food industry for 5 years managing health food stores throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. She has studied and attended conferences and workshops including: holistic healing and homeopathy, vitamin and mineral supplements, vegan diets, gluten-free diets, hormone imbalances, menopause symptoms and cures, probiotics, herbal medicines, the beauty industry and mind, body spirit integration.

Free yoga workshops through January and February!
If you are new to yoga or just want to have some fun you can take a beginners yoga class with Victoria at the Zenith Condominiums.  Victoria is hosting a beginner’s yoga class in the penthouse #904 on Thursday January 27, at 6:30 pm.  Space is limited - the first 15 folks to call text or email Victoria will enjoy a yoga class with beverages and snacks after class. 

To make a reservation for a free yoga class at the Zenith Condominiums contact Victoria at 612-554-7755 or

Victoria teaches at CorePower Yoga and wants to remind everyone that at Corepower Yoga (CPY) the first week is free.  Seven days of free yoga – what a treat?   Even if you do not want to join CPY – it is worth it just to take a couple classes in the heat – although there are classes without heated studios.   Not only are some of the classes heated but the humidity is cranked as well.  As you tap into your breath you will stretch, bend, twist, bind, sweat & detoxify.  In your yoga bliss (blissed –out) you will laugh at the wind-chill, snow and slush:   “Ah ha Ol’ Man Winter – you are not sending me to the Electric Beach; hot yoga is my new muse.”

CorePower Yoga, 501 Washington Avenue, is located on the 2nd floor.  With 3 studios, there are a variety of classes throughout the day.  For additional information regarding the various classes at CPY – go to


MacPhail announces Spring 2011 Classes

MacPhail Center for Music has published their Spring 2011 Class schedule.

MacPhail offers a wide variety of classes for young children, teens and adults.  Examples are Early Childhood Music (starting as young as 6 weeks old), Individual and Group Lessons, Voice, and the Certificate Program. 

They also offer tuition assistance and incentives, such as a sibling discount.  Click on this link for full details.


Great Article About the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL)

Dave and I had the pleasure of touring the SAFL last summer as part of the Greening the Riverfront series through the Mill City Museum.

An interesting article recently appeared in The Line Media regarding SAFL: "dale connelly, resident tourist: saint anthony falls lab, where water meets the future".

The Line Media is a quick read, provided to subscribers weekly via email.  Click here to go to their subscription sign up page. 


1st Precinct Announces "Put Your Junk in Your Trunk" Campaign to Counter Increased Vehicle Thefts

On January 5, the Minneapolis Police Department issued a Press Release regarding the First Precinct and the Downtown Improvement District (DID) partnering in a theft from motor vehicle reduction strategy and education initiative dubbed “Put Your Junk in the Trunk”.

The strategy is simple - valuables should not be left in the interior of a vehicle where a potential thief can see them.  Items such as purses, wallets, gym bags, cameras, laptops, briefcases, IPods, GPS units or any other valuable should be placed in the trunk prior to arriving at your destination.  While a trunk lock is fairly easily defeated, a thief will target cars with obvious valuables in sight long before he or she will take the time to explore locked trunks which may or may not yield valuables for the taking.

Click here to read more.

On January 20, Minneapolis Police Department issued a follow up email regarding continued thefts from motor vehicles and suggestions for both individuals and businesses to help prevent these crimes, along with the following links:

Click here to sign up for these email alerts from the Minneapolis Police Department. 

For questions, contact:
Renee Allen, Crime Prevention Specialist
Minneapolis Police Department, First Precinct

While the bulk of these thefts are happening in the North Loop and Warehouse District, we are not immune in the Mill District.  "Put Your Junk in Your Trunk" isn't just a catchy slogan, it's common sense. 


Last Chance to Register for Snowshoeing at Boom Island Park this Saturday

This Saturday, January 22, from 10:00am-11:30am, you can snowshoe at Boom Island and check out the Mississippi River.  See a winter wonderland that is difficult to reach in the deep snow.  Watch for winter wildlife as you tromp through drifts. Snowshoes provided.

The group meets at Boom Island parking lot, 724 Sibley Street NE, just east of Plymouth Avenue bridge.

But hurry - Registration closes today at 12 Noon.

Register at or call 612-313-7725. The cost is $10.


Check out What's in the Works for the Mill District and Neighboring Areas Along the River

Last night Cordelia Pierson, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Riverfront Corporation, and Scott Vreeland, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner, lead an interactive presentation with residents of the Bridgewater Lofts regarding organizations and initiatives related to property along and near the Mississippi River. Much of the information covered directly affects our Mill District neighborhood. 

Topics discussed during the meeting ranged from status of the I35W Memorial (work is scheduled to begin around April 1) to Gold Medal Park's future (when the current lease expires) to plans for the Fuji Ya site (there are 7 historical ruins there).

Following are website links pertaining to these and related topics:

Public meetings related to the local riverfront are held on an ongoing basis, and every one we are aware of is listed under the Event section of Mill City Times.


Quick Access to Police and Government Officials

For Mill District residents, find police and government information by clicking the Police & Government link under the Quick Links section on the left column of Mill City Times.

Want to review the most recent crime report or sign up for email updates?  Click on the link and scroll to 'Minneapolis Police Department Precinct 1'.

Need to contact Council Member Jacob Frey to discuss an issue? Click on the link and scroll to 'Minneapolis City Council Ward 3 Representative'.

Have a question for the Park and Rec Commissioner? Click on the link and scroll to 'Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissioner District 3'.

Our goal is for Mill City Times to be THE site to find what you need in the Mill District.  If there's anything you think would be a useful addition to the site, please let us know.


Minneapolis 79 - An Unedited View of Local Government

Through live and recorded webcasts and TV broadcasts, Minneapolis 79is a window to the City’s elected officials deliberating and deciding on the issues, policies and ordinances that affect day-to-day life in Minneapolis.  Using the above link, you can drill down on a specific topic of interest and access links to related city government information.


The Minneapolis RiverCurrent - an Additional Source of Information

A life-long Minneapolis resident and long time City of Minneapolis employee who is passionate about our riverfront generates a weekly e-newsletter called the Minneapolis RiverCurrent.  The RiverCurrent covers a larger geographical scope than we focus on with Mill City Times.  For example, there are events and festivals along the riverfront in other parts of the city that you won’t see listed in the Events section of Mill City Times, but they’ll be included in the RiverCurrent.  At the same time, there are going to be items that both venues list – such as a show at the Guthrie.
If you would like to subscribe to the RiverCurrent, send an email to:


Public Presentation by Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition Finalists is "Sold Out"

The public presentation by the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition finalists is scheduled for 7:00pm on January 27 at Walker Art Center. 

Two-hundred and fifty free tickets became available on Tuesday, January 4, and by Thursday afternoon all available seats had been reserved.  The Walker will have an in-person wait list starting at 6:00pm prior to the lecture for those who check in at the box office.  Luckily, the event will be webcast live and archived at

The Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition finalists are:

Ken Smith Workshop | New York City
Stoss Landscape Urbanism | Boston
Tom Leader Studio | Berkeley
Turenscape | Beijing

The teams' collective work includes award-winning riverfront and industrial reclamation park projects, in places such as Shanghai, Memphis, Toronto, New York City, Dubai, Milwaukee and London.  Fifty-five design teams responded to the RFQ.

Each team will produce 21st-century parks designs for 220 acres of parkland and the surrounding neighborhoods along both sides of the 5.4-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from the Stone Arch Bridge in the historic downtown Mill District to the city’s northern limits. The winning design will be a comprehensive, integrated vision for the Upper Riverfront that establishes parks as the engine for economic development, transforms the river into a connector rather than a barrier between east and west banks, and refocuses Minneapolis toward what is one of the three great rivers of the world.


The Central Library is a Great Place to Take Your Kids on Saturday

BRRRRRR - Baby, it's cold out there!  But it's warm at the Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, with underground parking to boot.  Check out some the fun things happening there this Saturday to help stave off cabin fever:

Celebrate Your Dreams at the Library! - Children's Library 10:00am–Noon
Preschool-grade 5. Children and their families are invited to drop in and explore their dreams through crafts, activities and stories.

Family Storytime - Children's Library  10:00am
For children age 2 and up. Share books, stories, rhymes, music, and movement with your children.

Childish Films- Pohlad Hall 10:30am–Noon
January 15: "It’s Cold"  Warm up with Minneapolis dancer Leah Nelson before a program of animated shorts set in wintry climates.
Preschool (age 3) and up and their families. Children's film curators for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival will present a pre-show art activity and educational intro for children's films fans before each screening. Visit for a complete schedule of films and descriptions. Seating is first-come, first-served.
Sponsored by the Presented by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County. Made possible in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support: Whole Foods Market, Target, Weston Wood Studios, Jagged Edge and Minnesota Parent.

Public Tour of the Central Library 11:00am–Noon
Tour this stunning Cesar Pelli structure with a green roof, an art gallery, special collections, four-story atrium and much more!

Added bonus: There's a Dunn Bros open Saturdays 7:30am-6:30pm on premise.  Drinks with lids may be taken into the Library proper.


MacPhail Family Music Event on Saturday, January 15

MacPhail Center for Music, 501 South Second Street, is hosting “Movin’ and Groovin’ to the Sounds of Brass” this Saturday.

* Performance by the Copper Street Brass Quintet.
* Free Sample Lessons to kids and adults on instruments featured in the concert.
* Free music-themed art project with the Early Childhood Music Staff.
* Light refreshments following the concert.

FREE and open to everybody!  For more information call 612-321-0100.


Sample Benefit of Mill City Commons Membership

Dave and I recently became members of Mill City Commons(MCC).   Some of the benefits associated with being members include cultural and social events, and educational and special interest programs.

For example, last night we attended a private event at the Guthrie.  Laura Weber, M.A. US History and Director of Communications for the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, gave us an overview of how preservation programs such as the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) recognize, and in a limited way, protect our historic built environment.

Laura related stories about well-known historic places in the Twin Cities, as well as examples of "vernacular architecture", that have benefited from being designated a historic property.

MCC's partnership with Compleat Scholarbrings University of Minnesota experts to our neighborhood to discuss topics based on MCC members' learning interests.

For more information on Mill City Commons, contact Linnea Tweed at 612.455.3329.


New Exhibit Opening at Mill City Museum this Thursday, January 13

The Mill City Museum will hold a public reception to open the exhibit for "Seeing the Big River: The Eco-Art of Peter L. Johnson" on January 13 from 6:00pm-8:00pm.

This new exhibit challenges viewers to 'See Beauty in Damaged Places'.  Peter L. Johnson says of his work that it "seeks and sees beauty in damaged places." By creating what he calls "lyric" photographs, Johnson chooses subjects that present an unsettling truth about the devastating relationship between humans and the Mississippi River.

Johnson will give remarks at 7:00pm and refreshments will be available. The exhibit is located in the museum’s central Mill Commons, and is free and open to the public during regular museum hours.

Photographs accompanied by found "specimens" and videos will be on display at Mill City Museum from January 13 - May 16, 2011.

Johnson draws on his varied background as a documentary photographer, solo street performance artist and social activist to create his body of work entitled "Devastating Beauty." In his recent series called "Specimens" he expands on the bumper sticker slogan, "Take only photographs and leave only footprints." Johnson photographs then removes the "specimen" from the ecosystem finally presenting the item next to the photograph in a gallery setting. Johnson says "this adds another layer of connection between humans and their effect on the environment."

In the "Immersion" series, Johnson sparks a discussion about the dangers of just being in the Mississippi River. In order to enter the waters he had to sign a waiver which he displays alongside the life-size prints and a corresponding video.

This exhibit is part of "Greening the Riverfront," a series of programs that explore how humans interact with nature, in the past, present and future.

Built within the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, a National Historic Landmark, the award-winning Mill City Museum chronicles the flour milling industry that fueled the growth of Minneapolis. The story comes to life through the eight-story Flour Tower, Water Lab, Baking Lab and other hands-on exhibits.


Next Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA) Board Meeting is January 11

Time: 6:00pm

Location:  Central Public Library - Room N-202

DMNAboard meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month. Anyone who lives, works or owns a business or property within the Downtown East and Downtown West neighborhoods is eligible for general membership in the DMNA.

During the December 14, 2010, DMNA Annual Meeting, the membership approved the DMNA Phase II NRP Plan. A link to the plan and its supporting documents is below:

Final DRAFT DMNA Phase II NRP Plan 12-14-10

Final DRAFT DMNA Phase II NRP Plan – Attachments – Maps and Survey document