Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is earmarking $750,000 for retail revitalization in the downtown core in his proposed 2024 budget.
The funding would support recommendations from the Vibrant Downtown Storefronts Workgroup, an informal panel of city officials, business leaders and local entrepreneurs, which Frey convened in late 2022.
The group met for the first time in January to come up with solutions for vacant street and skyway-level spaces. The group announced its recommendations in June.
The group’s main recommendations are:
- A pedestrian-only Nicollet Mall: Explore alternative transit routes through downtown with Metro Transit, consider legislation to allow open containers, and brand Nicollet Mall as the “best winter street in the nation”
- A facilitator/concierge official: Create a new role through the Minneapolis Downtown Council/Downtown Improvement District for matching building owners with businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists
- Financial incentives for landlords: Implement assessment practices that incentivize active, reduced or non-revenue uses of commercial retail spaces as an alternative to vacancies
The Vibrant Downtown Storefronts Workgroup recommends the $750,000 as an annual expense. The group’s full report is available here.
City Council on Nov. 2 unanimously approved a legislative directive that allows officials to begin investigating and collecting input on Nicollet Mall’s conversion into a public plaza. Frey approved and signed it as an official act on Nov. 6.
The initial $750,000, at least, would come from the Arts & Cultural Affairs and Community Planning & Economic Development departments.