Learning From Peer Cities – Minneapolis

How many times have you visited another city and come home to Jacksonville and said, “I wish we could do that here.”?

Each year, members of Downtown Vision attend the International Downtown Association (IDA) conference where we network with industry contemporaries, attend workshops, hear from internationally renowned speakers and take home plenty of enthusiasm and new ideas. This year’s conference titled, Poised to Compete, was held in Minneapolis in September.

Our trip wasn’t all work and no play. Amid our schedule of workshops and presentations, we got a first-hand look at how Downtown Minneapolis has created a sense of place.  The Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District was formed in 2009 and the city has made great strides in creating an inviting, vibrant Downtown.  Public art was plentiful along the streets giving new meaning to the term ‘sightseeing’. Large information and directory kiosks also served as public bulletin boards where local residents could interact and connect. Outdoor café seating along the sidewalks lets residents take full advantage of the more seasonal months in Minnesota. Nightlife thrived with an abundance of late night restaurants and bars in both the Downtown core and the revitalized Warehouse District.  And the famed riverfront Mill District has been restored with urban loft apartments and walking trails.

Role model cities, like Minneapolis, provide great roadmaps to Downtown revitalization.