Southwest

Money Magazine: Eden Prairie is #1 Place to Live

Money magazine recently announced its annual list of the 100 Best Places to Live. Topping this year's list, as in years previous, is yet another Minnesota city. This time, it is Eden Prairie, Minn., the family-friendly town with a population of 64,000 located southwest of the Twin Cities.

Eden Prairie is ranked at the top not only because it is a great place for families, it has a resilient economy. At 5.1%, its unemployment rate is nearly 1 percentage point below the rate for Hennepin County and more than 4 points below the national average. It's not hard to understand why that is, with 50,000 jobs located right in town. Major companies in Eden Prairie include the headquarters of Supervalu, ADC Telecommunications, MTS Systems Corporation, and the Minnesota Vikings, whose practice facility and front office are here.

Eden Prairie MN isn't all work with no play, though. Eden Prairie residents enjoy swimming in the summer and skating in the winter at 17 lakes. The City has more than 1,000 acres of active use parkland. Bikers, hikers and walkers enjoy Eden Prairie's nearly 200 miles of sidewalks and trails.

Four other Minnesota cities also cracked the top 20 list of America's best small cities.  Plymouth ranked #11th, Woodbury ranked 13th, Eagan came in at #15, and Apple Valley rounds off the list at #20. Eden Prairie has been ranked somewhere in the top 100 “Best Places to Live” in America since 2006.

Minnesota cities consistently rank high in these lists. Last year, Money Magazine listed Chanhassen as the #2 Best Place to Live. In 2008, Plymouth was listed as the #1 Best Place to Live.

View the rest of the Top 100 Places to Lives.

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Two Minnesota Ultra-High-End Homes Discussed by Forbes

Some spectacular Minnesota homes were recently mentioned by Forbes. The topic of discussion? Ultra-high-end homes on the market for tens of millions of dollars in unexpected locations. What are they doing there?

The first Minnesota home mentioned is a $10 million gated compound called the Brentwood that has all the amenities a high-caliber home should: a three-tiered screening room, a billiards hall with a wet bar, master bathroom with a fireside Jacuzzi and 10-spigot shower, guest homes, a lushly wooded lot, tennis court, and, like all the best Minnesota homes, a boat dock. Sounds like a Lake Minnetonka home, right? Wrong. It is located about 2 hours away from the Twin Cities in Big Chippewa Lake, Minnesota.

In many parts of the U.S., even the most expensive homes cost less than $10 million. Our listings are full of multi-million dollar homes that don't add up to that price-tag. Most of them are located in the Twin Cities. However, some extremely rich families choose to settle in places that have sentimental value to them instead of living in the most obvious luxury neighborhoods. This results in extravagant homes that stand out not only from the landscape, but from other homes on their real estate markets.

It doesn't have to be a high-end mansion in the middle of Minnesota's sticks, there is at least one outsized home up for sale right here in the Twin cities. As stated before, there are many multi-million dollar homes listed on our site. But you will not find a listing for the $53 million, 13-acre Southwest estate on Lake Minnetonka in Orono, Minnesota. It was designed in 1916-1918 by Harrie T. Lindberg and was used by the Pillsbury family until the early 1990s. The estate includes seven structures including a caretaker's cottage/greenhouse, garage, pool complex, smoke room and tea house.

It went onto the market in 2007. When it didn't sell for two years, it was...

Minnesota Schools are Tops

Southwest High School in Minneapolis has been named by Newsweek as the top public high school in Minnesota. Four other schools also made the list.

Newsweek and data company Factual generated the rankings by taking the total number of Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or Cambridge tests given at a school each year and dividing that by the number of seniors graduating in May or June. The rankings for 2010 are based on the date from 2009.

“I think parents have placed their students at Southwest expecting great results,” [Southwest principal Dr. William] Smith said. “We have kids that come to school anxious to learn and prepared to take the challenges that make those things possible.”

Southwest’s students are expected to enroll to AP and IB classes and then take the associated tests. Mainly though, the school's philosophy is that teachers' and administrators' jobs are to lay a foundation for future opportunity and success.

Southwest Minneapolis came in 115th. Other schools which made the list were St. Louis Park (156), Edina (175), Minnetonka (285), and Eastview in Apple Valley (445).

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Greening Minnesota ~ April 2010

This is the Land of 10,000 Lake and millions of trees. We take our environment seriously. Read on to learn about environmentally friendly news that happened recently around the Twin Cities and Minnesota!

Anoka County Highway Department is working on ways to get fewer people driving on Highway 65 in Blaine. The county has received a $7 million Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant from the Federal Highway Administration to improve mass transit on the corridor. With $1.5 million in matching money, the county has issued a request for proposals for consultants to help create a plan to ferry nine busloads of commuters from Blaine's northern edge into downtown Minneapolis and back.

Also in Anoka County, employees may have saved a few jobs by saving energy (and money). First, lights were dimmed. Utility costs at the government center were reduced by $58,000 in 2009. In 2010, the county is expected to save more than $65,000. Next, Facilities Management and Construction team is changing the heating and cooling set-points in county building from 70/73 to 68/74. That means the heat will kick in at 68 degrees rather than 70 in the winter and the cooling system will trigger on at 74 degrees rather than 73 during the summer. Each degree of change will result in a 3% savings to the annual utilities budget of $720,000. The facilities management and construction team also has turned off most of the government center's lobby lights. The idea is to use natural daylight for lobby activities.

Mulroy’s Body Shop at the corner of 39th Street and Nicollet Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis has the largest array of solar panels in the Twin Cities, generating 30% of the building’s power. The installation of the shop’s 174-panel, 40-kilowatt system was completed in early April as part of a project run by South Minneapolis-based Solarflow Energy. The company offers solar electricity leasing. The company is under contract with Xcel Energy for the project, which...

Rain Garden Workshops

Registration is open for Metro Blooms’ rain garden workshops. The Minneapolis nonprofit organizes two-part rain garden workshops across the metro area.

Professional landscape designers and master gardeners teach attendees the best techniques for planting rain gardens, which are designed to capture and slow rainwater runoff. These low-maintenance gardens contribute to improving water quality in local lakes and waterways by filtering pollutants out of rainwater. Rain gardens can also reduce stream bank erosion and preserve wildlife habitat.

The 2 part workshops cost $10 each. Attendees learn about rain gardens in the first session. When they return for part B, they’re asked to bring a sketch of their property so they can receive help from the landscape designers and gardeners for their specific spaces.

The first session of the spring was scheduled for the Southwest Community of Minneapolis. Metro Blooms experts will be at the Lynnhurst Recreation Center, 1345 W. Minnehaha Ave., 6:30 p.m. March 16. More classes will follow soon. They fill up fast, so sign up now!

Visit the Metro Blooms website and register for classes at metroblooms.org.

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New Developments at Calhoun Square

Calhoun Square at Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue in the Southwest community of Minneapolis is in the midst of a renovation project aimed at reviving the shopping and entertainment complex. The redevelopment has taken a long time to get underway, as the property has had three owners since 2005.

BlackRock, a New York-based investment company, bought the center for $47.3 million in 2007 and began work on the renovation last year. So far, it's spent about $20 million on changes that include expanding the parking ramp, adding extensions to the mall along both Lake and Hennepin and rebuilding much of the interior.

Most of the construction should be completed in about a month. When it's finished, Calhoun Square will have over 200,000 square feet of space for shops and restaurants. That's a 45,000-square-foot increase in space!

Several of Calhoun Square's new tennants have already opened. Read more about them in this Southwest Journal article.

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Photo Friday - Minnesota's Lake Minnetonka

Lake Minnetonka is a 14,528-acre lake in Minnesota, located west-southwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The lake is an irregular shape with many bays and islands, giving it about 125 miles of shoreline. The lake has been a resort destination throughout its recorded history. Some of the cities that surround Lake Minnetonka include St. Bonifacus, Minnetrista, Mound, Spring Park, Minnetonka, Long Lake, Wayzata, Woodland, Deephaven, Shorewood,  and Excelsior.

The first known people of European descent known to have visited the lake were two teenaged boys from Fort St. Anthony, later renamed Fort Snelling. Seventeen-year-olds Joe Brown and Will Snelling found the lake in 1822 when they paddled up Minnehaha Creek.

Minnesota's territorial governor Alexander Ramsey gave the lake its name in 1852. American Indians in the area referred to it as minn-ni-tanka, which means “big water.” The first settlements were constructed around it the same year. The first hotel was built in 1853. 


In 1905, Twin City Rapid Transit first connected streetcar lines to the lake, which brought many more visitors. Soon steamboats that looked like streetcars, called Express Boats, were launched. The...

August Events in the Twin Cities

August is a swinging month in the Twin Cities when it comes to community celebrations, festivals, and other excuses to walk around in shorts and eat "Something on a Stick." There's lots to do, starting with today!

New Brighton's annual summer Stockyard Days are taking place on August 2 through 9. The event, now in its 29th year, features a golf tournament, a kiddie parade and grand parade, street dances, and fireworks. For a complete list of times and locations for all Stockyard Days activities, go to www.stockyarddays.org and click on "events."

Lake Hiawatha’s Annual Neighborhood Festival is taking place today, Wednesday, August 5 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Lake Hiawatha Park, 2701 E. 44th Street in Minneapolis. There will be a talent show with prizes, carnival games, food for sale, and community information tables.

There will be some Outdoor Puppet Theater on Thursday, August 6, from  6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Folwell Park, 1615 Dowling Avenue N. in Minneapolis. "The Adventures of Katie Tomatie" will be presented by Open Eye Theatre with live music.

LYNAS Summerfest takes place on Thursday, August 6, from 5:30 p.m to 9p.m. at Lynnhurst Park, 1345 Minnehaha Pkwy. W. in Minneapolis. As always, the annual event will be a fun evening for the whole family with food, games, music and more.

The 36th Annual Longfellow Cornfeed occurs on Thursday, August 6, from 5:30 p.m to 8 p.m. at Longfellow Park, 3435 36th Ave. S. in Minneapolis. Join in for an evening of fun, food, and entertainment perfect for the entire family! Enjoy hot, delicious corn on the cob, live family-friendly entertainment, hair and face painting, fair style concessions, large inflatable attractions, community information tables, and much more!

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board is partnering with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts...

Photo Friday - Midtown Greenway

The Midtown Greenway is a 5.7-mile trail in Minneapolis. Used both recreationally and for commuting, the Greenway runs east-west about one block north of Lake Street. It provides cyclists, inline skaters, runners and pedestrians a traffic-free route across the city.

The Greenway consists of two one-way bike lanes and one two-way walking path, though they are combined in some places. There are some space constrictions because of the historic nature of the corridor, and it cannot easily be widened or modified.

To the west the Greenway connects directly to the Southwest LRT Trail. It also connects to the Kenilworth Trail, which in turn connects to the Cedar Lake Trail, providing access to downtown Minneapolis and the western suburbs.

To the east, the Greenway connects to West River Parkway, a part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. Along the way, there is access to the Chain of Lakes, as well as the Light Rail Trail, connecting the Greenway to the Downtown East community. Here you can see riders and walkers on a bridge for the Greenway which crosses the Lake of the Isles.

The Greenway was created in a former Milwaukee Road railroad corridor along 29th Street. The rail line was originally built between 1879 and 1881.

Bike traffic on the Greenway has jumped 30% in 2008 over ridership counts from 2007. ...

Upcoming Arts Events in the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities arts scene is particularly hopping during the summer. There are a few important and fun events coming up that you should know about!

First there is KOOZA, the Cirque du Soleil show happening on the St. Paul riverfront for the rest of the week.  Written and directed by David Shiner for Cirque du Soleil, there are shows happening every day through August 2, when they pack up their giant tent and leave. Tickets are $42-$215. Call 1-800-450-1480 or order them online at www.cirquedusoleil.com.

This Thursday and continuing through August 9th, the Minnesota Fringe Festival starts off its 15th installment.  This year, 160 productions will fill 11 days with 800 performances. The Fringe is the nation's largest nonjuried festival. Its performers, writers and companies test their work in a Darwinian scrum for audience approval and critical attention. Most are locals, but acts also appear from around the country and a few from Great Britain and Australia. Its taking place at 22 venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Tickets cost between $5 and $12, but admission to shows also require a $4 Fringe button. Multishow passes are available. Call 866-811-4111 or visit www.fringefestival.org.

Finally, next weekend on August 7, 8, and 9 the Uptown Art Fair takes places at the intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue and “The Mall” in Southwest Minneapolis. Perues a variety of creative and original works of art including sculptures, paintings, photographs, woodcarvings, glasswork, jewelry, multimedia compositions and more. Over $2.5 million of art is sold during the festival, but there are other events happening too.  Enjoy food and drinks from over 20 vendors, as well as non-stop entertainment on the CBS Outdoor Performance Stage. Relax in the Wine Garden, or create your own art at the Family Imagination Station activity area. Visit the website here.

Also, it's a little...