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chile  city  downtown minneapolis  downtown  hopkins  lander  mainstreet  minneapolis  place  recent  sidewalk  square  street  town square 
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Joe Urban

612-251-4662 3913 29th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Last Build Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2018 16:59:20 +0000


Town Square

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 16:59:20 +0000

Everywhere we went on our recent trip to Chile our family could count on one thing: the town square. Up and down Chile, in any weather and any geography, big city and small village, we spent time in and around the town square. Day or night, we found them to be pleasant and active, with programming and informal gathering, something to bring all ages together. In Santiago, the capital of Chile, the Plaza de Armas was full of people one mid afternoon. The square is ringed by lovely old buildings with a distinctly European, particularly Spanish look. Indeed, the European…

The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 19:36:07 +0000

“This is the most beautiful place on earth. “There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less…

If You Can Order Coffee From a Walk-Up Window

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 18:46:51 +0000

If you can order a coffee from a window while standing on a sidewalk, you just might be in a great urban place. On a recent trip to Santiago, Chile, I walked out of our AirBnB and just up the sidewalk was a coffee shop with a window facing the sidewalk. The street happened to be Calle Jose Victorino Lastarria in the historic Barrio Lastarria district, but it could have been anywhere. Requirements include a street with slow vehicle traffic, a decent sidewalk, buildings with little or no setback, and a decent amount of pedestrian traffic. Travel the world, and…


Wed, 06 Dec 2017 21:40:53 +0000

The highlight of watching my son’s soccer game last month was the rare sight of a 747 taking off from the nearby MSP airport. For me, the highlight of CNU in Detroit (DTW) last year was arriving that the terminal to see a 747 parked at the gate, preparing for the long flight to Seoul (ICN). The 747 still stops people short, a combination of stellar industrial design, a symbol of cultural and technological change, and an encapsulation of the wonder of flight. As a kid there were three 747 departures per day out of MSP (didn’t you learn your…

Downtown Minneapolis Salvation

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:20:05 +0000

Alright, I’ll bite. Nick Magrino’s recent post in the City Pages, One Weird Trick to Fix Downtown Minneapolis, got me thinking. While I’ve advocated for (and been criticized for) skyway removal, my ultimate goal is the same as that of many Minneapolitans, that I just want to see a vibrant downtown Minneapolis street life, with ground floor retail spaces buzzing with activity. I say remove the skyways. Nick Magrino suggests banning skyway level retail. Let’s consider this. Early in my career I was a commercial appraiser, working downtown. One comparable retail space table stands out in my mind all these…

Tom Petty

Wed, 01 Nov 2017 16:15:18 +0000

When it comes to music, 1989 is my formative year, hands down. I was 14, years old, discovered The Beatles, learned guitar, started my first band, saw my first concert, smoked my first cigarette, became a vegetarian and grew a mullet (thanks to Paul McCartney for, um, all of these). Eventually bacon obliterated my vegetarianism, the mullet was short-lived, and luckily I had friends who would have laughed if they knew I smoked, so I never made it a habit. I still try to play bass like Paul McCartney. But definitely the most lasting influence from 1989 is Tom Petty’s…

While I’m Fishing, the Grocery Industry is Churning

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 16:22:09 +0000

On a couple occasions this summer I was able to go fishing on a Thursday. That’s the day we receive delivery from our CSA from Turnip Rock. I arrive home with a couple fish on the stringer, eager to know what vegetables we got from the farm. For dinner the entire meal is either direct from “our” farm or caught by me, including a growler of beer from the Northbound! It’s pretty cool to come home with a fresh catch for dinner, but even more gratifying to know my kids understand where some of their food comes from. I do…

Panama Canal Impacts Logistics, Real Estate and the Global Supply Chain

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 15:42:43 +0000

The global economy is fascinating to me, particularly the supply chain, logistics and how goods are moved across the planet. I’ve followed this since writing two articles in 2009 and 2010 for Urban Land magazine. Now that the expanded Panama Canal is complete (in 2016), allowing significantly larger container ships through, what are the impacts on global trade and real estate? Research departments at the large real estate firms are already speculating, and reporting some shifts in activity. Most consumer goods imported from across the Pacific are unloaded at west coast ports, and containers are loaded on trains and/or trucks…

Little Infill – 3535 Grand

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 19:07:42 +0000

Among the latest little infill projects in Minneapolis is 3535 Grand, by the Lander Group. This project builds somewhat on Lander’s recent Motiv, but breaks new ground (pun intended) in a number of ways. There are 24 somewhat affordable units on what were two city lots, parking is in back where it belongs, and the building is an attractive addition to the urbanity of this street. Based on the notion that the surrounding neighborhood and city holds the amenities, Lander Group added very few within the 3535 Grand building. Much has been made of the missing middle in the past couple years as developers struggle to…

Mainstreet Hopkins is Almost Perfect

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 20:25:45 +0000

Last week I met a colleague at Munkabeans Cafe & Coffeehouse on the beautiful Mainstreet in Hopkins, Minnesota. Of all the Main Streets in America, the Hopkins version is unique because they smash the two words together. Mainstreet. And a fine street it is, better than before, having been recently rebuilt and with some new businesses drawing me there. But there is just one problem. You have to apply to cross the street. After my meeting I was keen to visit Mill City Sound, so I set off on the four block walk. As it was bright but brisk, I…