Closure of Sections of Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis Sparks Fear among Small Business Owners

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Closure of Sections of Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis Sparks Fear among Small Business Owners

MINNEAPOLIS — Parts of Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis closed on Monday for phase one of a two-year construction project

For 34 years, Dale Lee’s daily routine has included some groundskeeping at his business, Uncommon Grounds Coffee House. 

“I come outside and sweep the old porch,” Lee said.

But It looked a little different on Monday. 

“This is very odd. Last night they closed the streets down,” he said. “Last night I told some friends if you want to drive on Hennepin for the last time, now’s your chance.”

The cones are up, the meters are down, the bus shelters are empty and the cars are gone.

“I’ve never seen Hennepin so quiet, you can actually hear the birds,” he said.

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A sign nearby says there’s no parking until Nov. 22, and that has some business owners worried.

“We’re all apprehensive, terrified, but we must remain,” said Robert Sorenson, owner of Bobby Bead.

“I’m going to have to get out there more, advertise more just to get, you know, bring more people in,” said Marquita Winters, owner of Quitas Kloset.

“I think it is going to impact their businesses pretty dramatically,” said Uptown resident Bill Babcock.

“Two years is a long time for a business to try to hang on for things to get better,” Sorenson said.

The two-year project is split into phase one from West Lake Street to 26th Street, and phase two from 26th to Douglas Avenue.

“It just makes getting around more difficult is the biggest issue,” Babcock said.

We saw traffic congestion along Lake and Lagoon around the lunch hour on Monday, but the hope is that a new Hennepin Avenue will be better for biking, walking, transit and driving. 

There are also plans to accommodate the future Metro E line and a new bus rapid transit line. 

Lee says many of his customers walk, and he hopes others will figure out new parking spots to keep business rolling until the construction ends. 

Metro Transit buses will be detoured to Lyndale Avenue. Business access will remain open, and traffic is restricted or closed depending on the block and the phase of construction. Pedestrian detours will continue evolving as the project does.

A weekly stakeholder meeting is held virtually every Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

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