Customer-led’ urban design center opens in St. Paul

In a time when five indie films take all five Oscar nominations, the question is, can we get that kind of quality if we provide support for the indie developer? In a customer-led economy, the answer is a resounding yes.

One Minneapolis group that’s taken the lead is University UNITED, a group of 12 progressive community organizations + businesspeople that want a vibrant, urban, pedestrian-oriented, transit-oriented district along St. Paul University Avenue, seeking investment in places like the mixed-use building pictured above. They understand that the kind of development they prefer will come from smaller, indie developers and investors, and thus sought $120,000 from the Minneapolis Foundation to provide them with a competitive advantage – the U-Plan Community Planning Studio.

The do-it-yourself themed center hosts computers equipped with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, AutoCad and SketchUp architectural graphics and visioning/design software, a large format color printer that can generate maps, professional staff proficient in GIS mapping and architectural design – all for free – IF you can prove your project will raise the bar for design and quality of life in the neighborhood.

More here.