Letters: Dinkytown, where art thou?

A recent zoning request by Opus Corp. to allow six-story residential development is inimical to the interests of the City of Minneapolis, and to the Southeast, Dinkytown and University communities [in Minneapolis]. Action already under way will displace the Podium music store, the House of Hanson and the Book House. These anchor Dinkytown tenants were notified only in mid-January. A side effect of normal “nondisclosure” business practice appears to have been the lack of opportunity for community review and/or negotiation—and, apparently, of reasonable notice to tenants, who, if alerted months ago, may have been better prepared to handle the problem (note, I said “reasonable,” not “legal”). These actions also appear to be in conflict with Southeast’s neighborhood council (Marcy-Holmes) long-term plans.

Dinkytown, which has been a peerless “small business incubator” for more than half a century, will no longer exist.

Dinkytown long allowed small entrepreneurs to acquire moderate-cost storefront leases, which in turn allowed their businesses to exist, frequently for decades.

The rezoning will produce a sterile, unremarkable environment, with a churn of major retail and food-service chains, each attempting to survive unrealistic “per foot” overhead costs imposed by “new construction” amortization needs. “Character,” an attractive attribute that extends the revenue footprint of the existing stores to a wider field, will be lost.

These small shop owners and proprietors provide friendships, jobs and mentoring to thousands in the U of M students, faculty, and the neighborhood community. Their owners provide niche and unique services, goods or entertainment to the entire Twin Cities community and beyond. Also, they are advocates and activists within the Southeast community, and metro- or statewide. These owners have modeled civic engagement, particularly for local U of M and local high school students.

Their revenue tends to remain in the community, rather than spread to outstate and absentee investors.

David and Alice Duggan
St. Anthony Park
(David Duggan is a 56-year customer of Dinkytown businesses, an alumnus of the University of Minnesota and of University High School, and a lifetime resident of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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