A woonerf in Minneapolis: “Parking becomes a horrible but necessary land use but that will change over time.”

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Much more on woonerfs here.

It appears to be an improvement on the surface parking asphalt extravaganza existing there before, although a bit of the point surely was lost in translation. Have you stopped to consider that many of the urban conditions we complain about owe their existence to the necessity of accommodating our cars?

Is Minneapolis’ first ‘woonerf’ really just a nice looking parking lot? by Peter Callaghan (MinnPost)

Minneapolis has its first woonerf. Or does it?

For those who aren’t on a planning commission or land-use groupies: A woonerf is a Dutch import that translates as “living street” (sometimes “living yard”) and is a hot topic in urban design and planning these days. It describes a mixed-use street or alleyway that is shared by cars, bicyclists and pedestrians — but without the strict delineation of traditional roads: sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic lanes, etc. — as a way to use limited space for multiple functions.

“For residents of a woonerf, the public space in front of their homes is a place to play, socialize, and, engage in the community,” noted the byDesign blog.

When it comes to Minneapolis’ first woonerf, however, it might be hard to envision such an idyllic scene. The path cuts diagonally between two new residential buildings — the affordable-housing apartment building Mill City Quarter and the market-rate senior apartments Abiitan Mill City — on South Second Street in downtown Minneapolis. And the new space is devoted, mostly, to 80 head-in parking stalls.

“Today it’s probably best characterized as a nice parking lot, a REALLY nice parking lot,” said Michael Schroeder, the assistant superintendent for planning at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which has signed off on the woonerf as part of the land deal governing the development.

All of which has raised the question: Is Minneapolis’ first woonerf woonerf-y enough to actually be called a woonerf?

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