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Light Bridge, Giant Picture Frame Among Ideas for Remade Eighth Avenue

Residents met last week to discuss how to integrate art into ‘The ARTery.’

Some people liked the idea of a giant picture frame on Eighth Avenue that people could stand in to have photos taken. Others suggested a pedestrian bridge that lights up more the more people that are on it.

Those were just two of the ideas that residents had last week for “The ARTery,” a stretch of Eighth Avenue that Hopkins aims to transform into a “pedestrian-seductive” corridor. Planners want to use the corridor to entice people into the city’s central business district—particularly Southwest LRT riders at the stop planned just across Excelsior Boulevard.

Hopkins hosted a get-together Saturday to discuss how to integrate art into the corridor. Experts from IBI Group, Hoisington Koegler Group Inc. and Forecast Public Art introduced the audience to the corridor by discussing the goals for the downtown light rail station, reclaim streets for bikes and pedestrians and the possibilities for public art.

Hopkins’ ArtStreet initiative has already brought public art to the downtown in the form of sculptures. But the ARTery is not about on creating a sculpture walk, said Kersten Elverum, the city’s director of economic development and planning. It’s about the full breadth of public art—performances, music and even light, especially popular in Minnesota’s cold, dark winters.

The art could even change over time in order to encourage people to return.

The overall feel of the corridor is perhaps even more important than the individual features. Groups went back and forth over how much to emphasize a contemporary feel versus a more-historic one.

Some liked the “Cultivation of Raspberries” mural that once hung in the old Post Office. Others liked playing on the relationship between street cars, rail, the upcoming Southwest Light Rail Transit line and the tractors that Minneapolis Threshing Machine once made in Hopkins.

The consensus was that the corridor should be interactive and playful, as well as a gathering place that could be closed off to vehicles during community festivals and other special days.

“I was so appreciative to people that came out. Giving up four hours on a Saturday is a big deal,” Elverum said. “I was really proud some people stood up and took some ownership.”

The design team will now use the ideas to come up with some concepts for the corridor. After receiving feedback, they’ll shape it into a final design—although Elverum said that design will “not be super prescriptive.”

They’ll also identify potential funding sources.

The city aims to have The ARTery in place by the time the Southwest LRT line is operational, currently expected in 2018.

Elverum said set it’s important to get word out about a vibrant downtown as people are getting their patterns set with the new LRT line.

What would you like to see in The ARTery? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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