Business owners say they will leave Hennepin Ave if parking spots are eliminated

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city, cat lovers can find an oasis at The Cafe Meow. Located along Hennepin Avenue in the Lowry Hill neighborhood, the cat cafe serves up coffee, tea and felines for adoption.  

"We have a lot of regulars who will stop in, even with their car, on their way going somewhere," said owner Jessica Burge. 

But Burge claims she will be forced to move if a plan to do away with all the street parking in front of her business gets approved.

"We won't be here on Hennepin anymore if the parking goes away. It's just not a viable space for us," said Burge. 

If the precious parking spots disappear, Anthony Gulyard of One 21 Barbershop says his business will have to leave the area as well. The family-owned barber shop has been around for more than 20 years. 

"I don't feel like the city of Minneapolis cares about small businesses. That's what it feels like to me. If they cared, then they would have taken our businesses into consideration when they were making these plans," said Gulyard. 

The redesign and reconstruction of one of the city's busiest streets has been in the works for a while. Recently, Public Works unveiled their final recommendation. The recommended proposal cuts vehicle lanes down to two, adds 24/7 dedicated transit lanes, and a two-way protected bike lane between Lake and Franklin. It leaves behind approximately 20 parking spots.

Neighborhood groups like Hennepin For People believe the plan addresses transit concerns like safety, equity, and climate change. 

Katie Jones of Hennepin For People thinks the changes will improve the street for everyone, including business owners. 

"When you have a multitude of ways to access businesses, the economic activity of those corridors actually goes up," said Jones. 

Residents can share their thoughts with the city about the proposal here.

A virtual open house on the proposal is scheduled for January 13 at 4:30 p.m. The plan will then go before City Council members for approval.