The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association approved a task force earlier this month with the hope of better informing community members about developments in the historic St. Anthony Falls area.
The task force will provide updates on projects like the General Mills site and work on Father Hennepin Bluff Park on MHNA’s website. Members will also help communicate community feedback with developers, said task force chair Cordelia Pierson.
“It’s a higher level of public education and engagement,” Pierson said.
The primary focus for the task force now is the General Mills site. Pierson said, given the development’s location and its significance, the task force needs to make sure the neighborhood is informed about its impact.
“Following the historic guidelines is important, environmental sustainability is important, affordable housing that meets our community goals is very welcome,” Pierson said. “We want density and we know that how we grow will be extremely important to our neighborhood thriving in the future.”
The General Mills development, undertaken by Doran Companies, sits on several blocks of the former General Mills site that was purchased in 2017. The development will include several blocks of residential apartment buildings and retail space. One part of the development, a 26-story residential tower called The Expo, was approved by the Minneapolis Planning Commission last year.
John Crippen, a board member of Preserve Minneapolis, an organization with a focus on preserving historic buildings in the city, said the area’s historic and cultural significance sparked his interest in the task force.
“[St. Anthony Falls] is a really important part of the city, and we want to make sure that we’re doing as thoughtful and as good of planning as we can do,” Crippen said. “Because this is kind of the foundational area of how the city was created and what made it the Minneapolis we know today.”
While it has not yet met with Doran Companies, Pierson hopes the task force can help strengthen the relationship between developers and the neighborhood.
“And that’s, I think, our long-term goal, is to have developers see Marcy-Holmes and residents as partners in shaping development in positive ways,” Pierson said.
Pierson said the task force can also help community members communicate their thoughts with elected officials when making decisions about developments in the area.
“Not everybody’s going to get fired up about land use guidelines from the Heritage and Preservation Commission, but some people really will,” Ward 3 City Council member Steve Fletcher said. “And so, I think, if the reason people aren’t getting involved is that they don’t have access to information, then it’s great that we’re fixing that.”