MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As more high-rises go up in Dinkytown, there’s a growing push to protect and preserve some of the older structures.
The Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission is now recommending that a new historic district be established. It would cover four blocks of Dinkytown, and make it tougher to demolish buildings that some people still cherish.
Construction workers are a few months away from finishing a new six-story apartment tower at the corner of 4th Street and 13th Avenue. When it’s complete, it will join other high-rises in the area that offer new housing and new shops on the ground floor.
John Prost, who is staying at a home nearby, said it’s a welcome trend.
“I suppose if people are going to buy them and people are going to live in them, then why not build them?” he said.
Preservationists offer many reasons to stop the trend, most revolving around character and connections.
Kristen Eide-Tollefson has owned The Book House in Dinkytown for nearly 40 years.
“People are oriented toward a place,” she said. “It becomes part of their history, part of their soul, part of their relationships.”
Eide-Tollefson and others asked the Heritage Preservation Commission for help, trying to save the Dinkytown they’ve known and loved for decades.
“It’s got tremendous character, funkiness, and the Heritage Preservation Commission really heard that last night,” she said.
But Jason McLean, owner of two prominent businesses, Loring Pasta Bar and Varsity Theater, weighed in against the historic designation.
In a lengthy letter to the commission, he wrote “to freeze history is to ensure no new history is made.”
“There’s a lot of talk that Dinkytown has this history,” McLean said, “but I don’t think it’s history. I say it’s a confusion of history with nostalgia.”
McLean took an abandoned drug store where Bob Dylan once had an upstairs apartment and made it the popular restaurant it is today.
Bringing the Varsity Theater back to life also took him through layers of bureaucracy.
“And when you put a historic designation on an area or on a building, it just gets exponentially more difficult,” he said.
The Heritage Preservation Commission unanimously agreed to designate much of that commercial district as historic, but the commission doesn’t have the final say. The city does.
The Zoning and Planning committee will discuss the issue in two weeks and the full council is expected to vote on July 10.