Minneapolis' Mill City Quarter unveils 'woonerf' street for cars, pedestrians, bikers

- Downtown Minneapolis welcomed its first “woonerf” — a low-speed shared street for pedestrians, cars and bikes – Thursday afternoon at Mill City Quarter.

Developers are working with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to build the European-style street in an effort to bring more foot traffic to downtown.

“One of my partners saw the concept in the Netherlands and thought it was a cool idea,” said lawyer Brian Flakne.

With offices along the corridor, Flakne said he feels the woonerf will be of particular use to fellow area residents and workers.

“There are precious few ways to get to the river from downtown,” he said. “This will really help funnel the population, and I think when it opens up, people will just flow down there.”

The corridor is less than 500 feet long and won’t have speed bumps like the traditional woonerf, Flakne said. It will, however, have traditional speed limits ranging from five to 10 miles per hour.

According to city documents, the site design will include approximately 80 parking stalls with landscaped open spaces to “foster gathering of people and to facilitate pedestrian traffic and enhance the pedestrian experience through the site.”

Designers used historical site photos as inspiration for the concept which is based on the railroad corridor that once occupied the site.

Flakne said he thinks that when the design comes to its full fruition, people will ask why more woonerfs don’t exist in the area.

“There aren’t many places downtown where you can just sit and eat a sandwich and watch the world around you,” he said.

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