One of the most impactful attributes of Minneapolis’ destination appeal is its downtown vibrancy. Prior to the pandemic, Minneapolis downtown was fueled by a large and growing residential population, 200,000+ downtown office workers and thousands of metro area, regional, national and international visitors.
We were blessed to have an organically grown downtown core with restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and other amenities that appeal to locals and visitors alike. Other cities have struggled to have these assets and often had to resort to creating artificial entertainment complexes or districts that lack authenticity.
The pandemic devastated many of the amenities and demand drivers that fueled our downtown vibrancy. The changing face of bricks and mortar retail, mixed messages on the return of workers to the office and lingering perceptions of public safety concerns have left us to navigate an uncharted future. This decline has been recently accentuated by the departure of some prominent center city retailers.
Several disparate efforts have been initiated over the last two years to address these issues with mixed success. In response, Mayor Jacob Frey announced a new, robust effort to reanimate our downtown.
The plan was conceived by the mpls downtown council and the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) team to create a workgroup focused on exploring opportunities to reinvent the storefront experience in downtown Minneapolis. The Vibrant Downtown Storefronts Workgroup is that vehicle.
Steve Cramer of mpls downtown council /Downtown Improvement District and Gabrielle Grieg of Juxtaposition Arts are the co-chairs of the workgroup. Meet Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Convention Center will join Minneapolis City Council members Lisa Goodman and Michael Rainville along with leaders from the retail, restaurant, cultural, philanthropic, business association and real estate communities on this group.
In our travels, the Meet Minneapolis team has seen firsthand that our city is not alone in dealing with the changing face of downtown vibrancy.
It is important for this workgroup to evaluate best practices in reimagining downtown vibrancy, even from competitors. We should also look for the low-hanging fruit of reanimation opportunities and focus on those things that make us unique and that only we can own as a downtown community.
It was important for the mayor to be the convenor of this group and to elevate the sense of urgency we all have in restoring the vibrancy we all proudly tout. We will keep you posted on the work of this group, and I welcome your ideas. Allison Kaplan of Twin Cities Business recently provided her perspective and ideas in this article.
Finally, as the end of the year approaches, I want to take this moment to express our team’s gratitude for your continued support of Meet Minneapolis and the work we collectively do with you to strengthen our community. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe, happy and healthy year ahead.