January 17, 2014 Chair Laura Faucher Members of the Heritage Preservation Commission Public Service Center 250 S.

4th St., Room 300 Minneapolis, MN 55415 Re: Request for HPC to Deny Two Demolition Permit Requests: 1315 and 1319 4th Street SE, Historic Dinkytown

Dear Chair Faucher: Before you are three demolition permit requests for properties in the heart of Dinkytown, a vibrant commercial, cultural and community crossroads in the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood, a distinctive place strongly associated with the growth of the University of Minnesota. The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association requests the Heritage Preservation Commission to: find that the two connected properties at 1315 and 1319 4th Street SE are historic resources, and deny the demolition permits, and cause a designation study to be prepared for the area. This finding and denial are supported by the properties’ association with distinctive elements of neighborhood identity, which this letter addresses, and other historic designation criteria, as described in the 2011 Historic Resources Inventory, the 2013 historic resource assessment, and the 2013 economic market study completed with the Dinkytown Business District Small Area Plan (“the draft plan”), soon to be released. With the draft plan’s finding that additional demolition of low-rise buildings like these may impair the Dinkytown district’s eligibility for National Register of Historic Places listing, the designation study is a natural next step to preserve Dinkytown’s historic resources and identity. Standard of Review: Finding of Historic Resource For the HPC to find that the adjacent 4th Street properties in Dinkytown are historic resources, the sites would meet at least one of the criteria for designation as a historic district. Several of these criteria fit the center of Dinkytown generally and these properties specifically, as integral elements of the historic character of the area: 1) The property is associated with significant events or with periods that exemplify broad patterns of cultural, political, economic or social history. 2) The property is associated with the lives of significant persons or groups. 3) The property contains or is associated with distinctive elements of city or neighborhood identity. 4) The property embodies the distinctive characteristics of an architectural or engineering type or style, or method of construction. We will address the third element – “contains or is associated with distinctive elements of neighborhood identity” – because we are especially qualified to speak to neighborhood identity, and Dinkytown is the gateway to and an integral part of our neighborhood. Page 1 of 4

Distinctive Elements of City or Neighborhood Identity: As a vibrant, eclectic commercial area adjacent to a world-class university, Dinkytown is well known throughout the city, the region and the state of Minnesota. Its pedestrian-scale physical appearance and character are strongly associated with the historic character of our neighborhood – the first neighborhood in Minneapolis, nestled between the major land grant University, with its historic knoll area, and the St. Anthony Falls Historic District. During the 1950s and 1960s, the area developed a “bohemian” reputation that it still maintains, and became a center for marches and protests. The Red Barn uprising and “People’s Park”– memorialized on the 1319 4th Street SE property’s alley wall – continue to represent for many people the power of community-wide support and grassroots action to preserve the character of a place. This area is unique in its relationship to the neighborhood, the city and the University. Entering Marcy-Holmes on one-way 4th Street SE from the east, visitors pass through an institutional building setting, with its athletic facilities, a parking ramp and lots, and new housing affiliated with the University.

After crossing the rise at 15th Avenue and traveling down to the 4th Street SE/14th Avenue intersection, visitors enter the distinctive district, characterized by single to three-story buildings with unusually intact cornices.

The older buildings at the intersection, including 1319 4th Street SE, represent the first phase of construction, from 1900 to 1920. The 1315 4th Street SE property, mid-block along the north side of 4th Street SE, represents the second phase, from the late 1940s to 1955. The properties at 13151319 4th Street SE provide continuity in scale, complementing the buildings along 4th Street, and helping the three-story Dinkydale and Varsity theater buildings across the street remain prominent in the commercial area. After the draft plan describes some of the more prominent Page 2 of 4

and architecturally rich buildings, it states: “Low-scale, one story buildings such as 1319-1325 4th Street SE … are equally important to the historic value of Dinkytown and help provide the pedestrian scale that is typical of the district. … These buildings all play an integral part in forming the unique fabric and historic feeling that Dinkytown possesses.” Current students and thousands of alumni of the University of Minnesota have had the common experience: a pedestrian-scaled commercial and social area with architectural distinctiveness. Dinkytown’s combination of architectural styles reflects the character of the area: stimulating and eclectic. At its core, demolishing parts of the fabric would undermine the integrity and viability of the area, even if each property considered separately seemed less distinctive. As city staff noted in a September 2013 letter, “the potential commercial district retains a good degree of integrity, and is more intact as a University-associated area that Stadium Village.” These two properties were specifically noted as “a contributing resource for intensive-level survey and research as part of the Dinkytown Potential Commercial Historic District.” In the 2011 Historic Resources Inventory for the Central Core Area, these properties were identified as part of the potential Dinkytown Historic District. This unique character and physical appearance is well documented. The city’s 2013 market study emphasized that Dinkytown’s character remains its most important market strength, an “increasingly important differentiator,” especially with light rail serving other University district commercial areas. Before the January 21 hearing, we anticipate providing to you additional information addressing the findings required to deny the demolition. Growth with Preservation: Denial and Preservation Study We welcome expansion of the Dinkytown commercial area into adjacent city blocks while retaining the existing commercial density in the historic core of Dinkytown – C1 zoning, allowing 2.5 story buildings. As the draft plan states, “preservation efforts should focus on the core business area of Dinkytown”– the properties centered on the 14th Avenue and 4th Street intersection – to maintain the identity of “Dinkytown,” a finding supported by in-depth, current historic research. These buildings in particular are being rented by successful small businesses that support the social and commercial life of the area. They are in average building condition, and could be redeveloped without demolition. Protecting lower density in the historic core will retain smaller retail spaces and their local businesses, maintaining business diversity. Outside of the historic core, the expanded commercial areas can offer spaces more conducive to 21st century business development.

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A critical concern for the economic vitality of the area is “supporting the preservation of elements of Dinkytown which contribute to its unique branding and market niche,” according to the economic findings of the draft plan. Specifically referring to buildings like 1319 4th Street SE, the draft plan states: Preserving these buildings will maintain the historic integrity of Dinkytown sufficiently for the district to qualify for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Due to the relatively small size of the commercial area, additional demolition of contributing resources may have a significant impact on the character of the district as a whole, impairing its National Register eligibility. To achieve our long-term goal of One Minneapolis, a vibrant city made up of distinctive places, we need to protect our historic fabric while welcoming new development in adjacent areas. Dinkytown was once known as “the second downtown Minneapolis” and is still well known to generations of University alumni, residents, and business owners. As the draft plan states, “the Dinkytown commercial district is an important historic resource that is directly linked to the growth of the University and the residential population of the surrounding neighborhood.” Thank you for considering our request to deny the demolition permit applications for 1315 and 1319 4th Avenue, and cause a designation study to be initiated for the area. Sincerely,

Cordelia Pierson President, Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association cc: Jacob Frey, City Council Member Cam Gordon, City Council Member Lisa Goodman, City Council Member Greg Pillsbury, Dinkytown Business Association Doug Carlson, University District Alliance Richard Beeson, Chair, Board of Regents Pam Wheelock, University of Minnesota Wendy Menken, Southeast Como Neighborhood Improvement Association Kelly Doran, Doran Companies

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