Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Wall In Need of a Mural

There is a lot of great, vibrant, urban, pedestrian-friendly energy on St. Anthony Main (the stretch of Main St NE running from Hennepin Ave to 6th Ave NE). The half-mile portion of Main St. has excellent riverfront views, two parks (one grass-covered with trees & outdoor grills, the other cobblestone with close-up views of St. Anthony Falls), several restaurants and bars, tons of outdoor seating, a movie theater, and (drumroll please!) a Segway store. If you visit the area on a weekend evening, you'll find it is packed with people and live bands from early till late evening. There is also significant residential real estate planned for the site, including two towers (22- and 27-stories!) on an undeveloped portion of the street.

One problem, however, is that there is a stretch of nothingness along Main St, between Kikugawa (a sushi restaurant) on the western portion, and the rest of the businesses on the eastern portion. These two segments of the street are separated by roughly 300 feet of unadorned space (pictured above). There is a large concrete retaining wall, behind which nothing could be built, unfortunately.

I've been thinking lately that St. Anthony needs to address this problem. It's not just that it's an ugly portion of the road. It kills the pedestrian energy! Panhandlers set up shop right in the middle of the stretch, and believe you me DINK and baby-boomer couples are NOT happy dealing with that. If the street is going to continue to grow, planners need to address this weakness.

My suggestion, for the moment anyway, is that the city commission a mural for the concrete wall. It's at least 100 feet long, 8 feet tall, and totally undecorated. Given the successful decoration at the B-Girl summit last month, why can't we replicate it here on Main Street?


Blogger Erica M said...

I think that's a fantastic idea. Or get a youth group or summer program to do it. There's at least one spot on the Midtown Greenway sporting such a project.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus God NO!

The last thing that wall needs is some ill-conceived faux-Diego Rivera monstrosity in loud primary colors.

Let the park and the Falls maintain some dignity. If you must have a mural, let it be abstract, subtle, and professionally rendered.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Zach K. said...

I really like the idea of a mural at that location. Great thinking Mr. Gross.

I have never quite understood the St. Anthony commerical district. I rarely got the sense that it was a very active/popular area (despite a GREAT location and a fabulous movie theater).

Maybe I just went at the wrong times?

2:45 PM  

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