After a few long months of planning, we’re ready to go – welcome to the official launch day of Downtown Voices.
If you’re just meeting us for the first time, hello! I’m Charlie. I grew up here, I live in the Wedge neighborhood, and I co-founded Southwest Voices to cover Southwest Minneapolis with Andrew Haeg back in October of 2021. Since then, we launched Minneapolis Schools Voices to cover the city’s school system. This will be our third publication. If you want to know more about why we’re launching Downtown Voices, you can read a bit more from our announcement here.
Next Monday, October 16th, we’ll make a big announcement – our new editor! We’re incredibly excited to announce her hiring, and think we have found the perfect fit to make Downtown Voices into a great publication in the weeks and months to come.
We want to be the go-to news outlet for everyone that lives, works in, and visits downtown Minneapolis. The main ways we’ll communicate with you are through our weekly newsletter (which you can sign up for at the bottom of this page) and our Instagram page. We’ll aim to cover the big stuff you care about and need to know, like news about restaurants and things to do and what the City Council is up to and real estate and everything in between. We want to help make downtown a better place, now and in the future, and will cover the area with that in mind.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve been surveying people that live in, work in, and visit downtown Minneapolis about what they think the area needs.
We asked people for five words to describe what they think of when they think about downtown Minneapolis. Here’s a word cloud of what you came up with:
(Side note: If you are one of the people that used one of your precious five words on “downtown”, we need to work on your efficiency).
We also asked people about what would make them spend more of their time downtown. Here’s a brief snapshot of what you said:
There’s a pretty clear message here, which is that if you want a simple way to get people to spend more time downtown, they need more stuff to do, and they need a better way to hear about the fun stuff that’s already going on. So simple, it’s obvious, but also a perspective that often gets lost in much of the public conversation about how to create the future of the central node of our city. People need more stuff to do, and they need better ways to find out about stuff that’s already going on. If you’re one of the people that wants to know more about what’s going on, scroll down and sign up for our newsletter now.
One of the most inspiring things we learned through this survey was that many people have hopeful, interesting visions of where we can go from here. If you’re ever feeling uninspired about the future of Minneapolis, or like there isn’t much of a plan from the city for where we’re all headed (this has come a lot in conversations we’ve had with people), I have good news – your fellow residents have some great ideas.
Here are a few of them:
“More greenery, more safety monitors/cleaners from the BID, more cafes open during the day, free downtown circulating bus that looks unique, outdoor spaces/lawns to relax and have activities in.” - Becky C.
“More trees everywhere. A place that welcomes youth in addition to the public library. Clearer connection to the river. Places designed to encourage people to gather spontaneously - the external area by every large building should include an outdoor space where people could sit, linger, meet up, etc.” - Gretchen M.
“There needs to be a focus on a true mixed use, walkable community that doesn’t require a car. We need smaller retail spaces available for local businesses, not just big chains. We need better street design to slow down cars that frequently top 50 miles per hour making the area unpleasant to walk or drive around. We need to find ways to activate dead blocks that have parking garages/blank walls/no retail. We should try and extend the vibrancy of the north loop to the rest of downtown, and that requires very different thinking.” - Stephen W.
“More music! More restaurants and lounge areas! A social club that feels like the Hewing Hotel (similar to the Quinn in Boston).” - Alex M.
“Downtown has been designed to be attractive to people who do not live in Minneapolis. Instead it should be designed to be attractive to people who DO live in Minneapolis!” - Katherine W.
“Young people come downtown mainly for concerts - I think more things than just restaurants for them while they're here would be great. Maybe a thrift store, record shop, or more museums. A time-honored tradition from those who hail from the burbs is getting dinner beforehand & maybe drinks after. As an artist with no flex in my income, I'd love to see affordable visual art studio space in the area. It's hard to see so much vacant space in my neighborhood & also not be able to afford to rent any of it for an art studio.” - Elliot S.
“Keep it open later. Make it more accessible (more frequent and reliable buses). Provide more opportunities for different activities.” - Peter S.
“Critical mass of people (which may come from residents rather than office workers); emphasizing street-level experiences rather than skyways; clarifying when skyways are open and increasing access from the street; moving the goofy, empty patrol cars that litter Nicollet Mall's sidewalks; providing more resources/support for people who need access to housing/healthcare.” - Mike S.
“We need to invest in providing wholesome and valuable activities for youth - and let them have safe fun! That will help all of us build trust in each other.” - Joan N.
“Focus design first and foremost on building up street (sidewalk) life. Places that are nice to walk and have nice things to walk to will draw people in, and more people leads to more safety. We can have nice things.” - Micah W.
I really like that last sentence from Micah. We can have nice things. We deserve nice things! And we should believe that things can get better, and that putting things back the way they were before the pandemic disrupted the way we work and live forever is not only impossible, it’s also a pretty boring goal.
We’re living in an exciting moment of urban transformation. Big chunks of America’s cities, Minneapolis included, were built for a world that no longer exists. Downtown Minneapolis has a lot going for it, and has big chunks of it that need urgent, intentional transformation. If you’re interested in those things and how they’ll shift the present and future of downtown, you’re in the right place.
We aim to cover this city like we live here, because we do. We aren’t really objective about downtown Minneapolis, because we want it to be great. We don’t know what things we should be covering yet – that’s what you’re here for. Tell us what you want and what you need, and we promise to always do our best to make it happen for you.
If you have something to say, if you want to know more about what’s going on, if you want to simply chat with someone about what’s happening in our city, we’re here for you. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to sign up for our newsletter, email us at email@example.com, or text us at 612-204-2887 to stay in touch.
Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you around soon.