University United Map
2233 University Avenue West, Suite 335
St. Paul, MN 55114
(651) 399-7221
bmcmahon@universityunited.com
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University UNITED  A Coalition of Midway Citizens and Businesses

Brief Historical Overview

University UNITED emerged from a number of organizational initiatives. In 1977, the Economic Development Committee of the Midway Civic and Commerce invited the District Councils bordering University Avenue to participate in its meetings, which led to the formal establishment of University UNITED in 1981. In the 1970's, three Local Development Companies were working along the University Avenue corridor. They later merged to form the University Midway Local Development Company, which in turn formally merged with University UNITED in 1991.

Over the years, University UNITED has undertaken a variety of activities responding to the changing needs of the community. These included a number of planning efforts, starting with the first comprehensive planning study for the University Avenue corridor in 1988. Early on, UNITED was also an implementation organization. Its first and largest development project was the International Marketplace Project, in 1989, funded with $1.5 million in federal Urban Revitalization Action Program (URAP) dollars by the City of St. Paul. This led to the creation of International Plaza (an Asian/International mini-mall), and streetscape and façade improvements for businesses in the two blocks between Western and Mackubin Avenues. In the intervening years, UNITED has organized crime prevention efforts, promoted business retention and expansion programs, established programs working with new immigrant businesses, managed façade improvement programs, created U-PLAN, organized the University Avenue Business Association (UABA), and became a strong advocate for transit oriented development.


About University UNITED

Click on the below links for information on:
  1. Board Members
  2. Staff Members
  3. University UNITED Funders
  4. By-Laws
  5. History

University UNITED Board Members
April, 2012

Individual Members:

Stuart Alger, Attorney, Leonard, Street, Deinard - Chair
Isaac Graham, Western Bank - Treasurer
Jaime Kreisman, Beka, Inc. Specialty Wood Products
Mary Leonard, Chocolat Celeste
Sherman Eagles, Hampden Park Consulting (Software)
Lynn Hinkle, Policy Director, Minnesota Solar Energies Industries Association*

Organizational Representative:

University Avenue Business Association, Keith Johnson

Development Project Community Representative:

JoAnne Makela, St. Anthony Park Community Council

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Staff Member(s):

Brian McMahon, Executive Director
Photo by Bill Klotz

Brian McMahon, Executive Director: Brian started as Executive Director of University UNITED in January 2001. A trained architect, with degrees from the University of Notre Dame and the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, he has been working in the urban planning and redevelopment field for over 20 years. He operated a real estate brokerage and development company in his native New York City, and has completed a number of housing and mixed-use projects. He is currently a licensed real estate broker in Minnesota. In addition to promoting commercial corridor redevelopment, Brian has received a number of research grants from, among others, the Minnesota Humanities Commission and the Minnesota Historical Society, and has written widely on the subject of urban history.

Brian McMahon's Portfolio

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University UNITED Funders:

  • McKnight Foundation
  • Minneapolis Foundation
  • St. Paul Travelers Foundation
  • City of St. Paul
  • Metropolitan Council/Metro Commuter Services (contract with Midway TMO)
  • Bikes Belong Foundation (Midway TMO)
  • Saint Paul Foundation
  • The Bigelow Foundation

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BY-LAWS OF UNIVERSITY UNITED
Adopted by Board on December 7, 2009

ARTICLE I: MISSION

Section 1. Mission. The mission of University UNITED shall be:

(a) to plan for and implement commercial, housing, and transportation development which will benefit residents and businesses within the University Avenue corridor, and be consistent with the Central Corridor Development Strategy adopted by the City of St. Paul, and the Station Area Plans adopted by St. Paul and Minneapolis.

(b) to build relationships among stakeholders along University Avenue;

(c) to promote the University Avenue corridor as a place to live, work and conduct business; and

(d) to advocate for public and private decisions which benefit the University Avenue corridor, but no substantial part of the activities of the Corporation may include the carrying on of propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation.

Section 2. Vision. The vision of the Corporation is that the University Avenue corridor will be a vital, thriving, metropolitan hub which enhances people's quality of life and economic well-being.

Section 3. Service Area. University UNITED has a service area along the University Avenue corridor in that portion of the Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, described as follows: The northern boundary is the southernmost main-line railway track of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company, north of Pierce Butler Route; the eastern boundary is the State Capitol; the southern boundary is the center-line of Interstate 94; and the western boundary is the University of Minnesota, east-bank campus.

ARTICLE II: BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Section 1. Selection of Directors. The Board of Directors of the Corporation shall consist of up to twelve natural persons appointed or elected by the voting members of the Corporation, including a representative nominated by the University Avenue Business Association, and a representative nominated by the newly created Community Advisory Board (described below). At least one member shall be from Minneapolis. The Board shall also include up to five Special Community Director Positions nominated by a neighborhood(s) District Council in which a development project is located, who shall serve for the duration of the time the project is active. The current Board of UNITED shall approve the new Board members, and the new Board will select its successors.

The Community Advisory Board shall consist of representatives from each of the current organizational members of University UNITED, excluding the business associations, who wish to participate (below). This group shall meet periodically, but no less than once a year, to review the work plan of University UNITED, and to nominate their representative to the UNITED Board when there is an available seat.

  • District 7 Planning Council - Thomas Dale
  • District 8 Planning Council - Summit-University
  • District 11 Community Council - Hamline-Midway Coalition
  • District 12 Community Council - St. Anthony Park
  • District 13 Community Council - Union Park
  • Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association
  • Aurora-St. Anthony NDC
  • Greater Frogtown Community Development Corporation
  • Model Cities Community Development Corporation

Section 2. Term. Except as otherwise provided herein, each director on the Board of Directors of the Corporation shall be appointed/elected to serve for a term of three years. A director shall hold office for the term for which he or she was appointed/elected and until her or his successor has been appointed/elected and such successor has qualified, or until the director's death, resignation or removal. No person shall serve on the Board of Directors, as a director or for terms, either full or partial, aggregating more than six years. Some of the initial Board appointments shall be less than three years to allow for staggered terms.

Section 3. Resignation. Any director may resign his/her membership at any time by giving written notice to the Board of Directors or to the Chair. Such resignation shall take effect at the date of the receipt of such notice or at any later time specified therein; and, unless otherwise specified therein, the acceptance of such resignation shall not be necessary to make it effective.

Section 4. Removal and Vacancies. Any director may at any time be removed with cause by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors. Cause can include missing three consecutive meetings of Board of Directors. Action to remove the director shall be preceded by notice to the director stating the reasons for considering the proposed action. The director in question shall have no vote on the matter.

Any vacancy occurring because of the death, written resignation or removal of a director shall be filled for the unexpired term of such director.

Section 5. Non-voting Members. The Board of Directors may establish classes of non-voting members based upon such criteria as it shall from time to time determine. Non-voting members shall be admitted or removed from membership by action of the Board of Directors, where written notice of the proposed action has been given to the members personally or by mail (postage prepaid), electronic mail, or facsimile at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting.

Section 6. Interest in Property. Directors of the Corporation shall not, as such, have any right, title or interest in the real or personal property of the Corporation.

ARTICLE III: MEETINGS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Section 1. Regular Meetings. Regular meetings of the Board of Directors shall be held at least every three months. The meetings shall be at such time and place as determined by resolution of the Board. Meetings may be held elsewhere, or at alternative times, if the notice of the meeting clearly provides so. Notice of any change in the place or time or holding any regular meeting, or of any adjournment of a regular meeting to reconvene at a different time or place, shall be given to the directors personally or by mail (postage prepaid), electronic mail, or facsimile, or by telephone, not less than two (2) days before the meeting, excluding the day of the meeting, to all directors who were absent at the time such action to schedule the meeting was taken.

Section 2. Special Meetings. Special meetings of the Board of Directors for any purpose or purposes shall be called by the Chair or at the written request of any director. Such request shall state the purpose(s) for the proposed meeting. Written notice of all special meetings shall be given to the directors, stating the time and place thereof, and the purposes for which such meeting is convened, personally or by mail (postage prepaid), electronic mail, or facsimile at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. The business transacted at all special meetings shall be confined to the subject or subjects stated in the notice and to matters germane thereto, unless all directors of the Corporation are present at such meeting and consent to the transaction of other business.

Section 3. Quorum. Forty percent of the directors of the Corporation shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business by the Board of Directors, and the act of a majority of the directors present at such meeting shall be the act of the Board, except where otherwise provided by statute or these By-laws. If a quorum is present when a duly called or held meeting is convened, the directors present may continue to transact business until adjournment, even though the proportion or number otherwise required for a quorum is no longer present.

ARTICLE IV: OFFICERS

Section 1. Officers. The officers of the Corporation shall consist of a Chair, a Vice Chair, and a Treasurer, who shall be appointed by the Board of Directors, and such other officers as may be appointed from time to time by the Board.

Section 2. Selection and Removal. The Board shall elect officers at its January board meeting, with the new slate of officers to begin their term at the subsequent Board meeting. The term of office of each of the officers of the Corporation shall be for one year or until the election of successors. Any officer may be removed at any time prior to the expiration of his or her term by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors, where written notice of the proposed action has been given to the directors personally or by mail (postage prepaid), electronic mail, or facsimile at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. Any vacancy occurring in an executive office shall be filled by the Board of Directors, where written notice of the election has been given to the directors and alternates personally or by mail (postage prepaid), electronic mail, or facsimile at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. No person shall serve as an officer of the Corporation in the same office for more than three years.

Section 3. Chair. The Chair shall work with staff to organize and set agendas for the Executive Committee; the Chair shall chair meetings of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors; shall serve as spokespersons for the Corporation; shall sign and deliver in the name of the Corporation deeds, mortgages, bonds, contracts, or other instruments pertaining to the business of the Corporation, except in cases in which the authority to sign and deliver is required by law to be exercised by another person or is expressly delegated by the Corporation's organizational documents or by the Board of Directors to another officer or agent of the Corporation; shall maintain records of and, when necessary, certify proceedings of the Board of Directors and members; and shall perform other duties prescribed by the Board of Directors.

Section 4. Treasurer. The Treasurer shall monitor and provide oversight for the accurate financial records for the Corporation including the deposit of money, drafts, and checks in the name of and to the credit of the Corporation in the banks and depositories designated by the Board of Directors; the disbursement of corporate funds including checks and drafts in the name of the Corporation, as ordered by the Board of Directors; and shall provide the Chair and the Executive Committee upon request and the Board of Directors at each regular meeting of the Board of Directors written account of transactions by the Treasurer and of the financial condition of the Corporation.

ARTICLE V: COMMITTEES

Section 1. Executive Committee. The Executive Committee of the Corporation shall have general active management of the business of the Corporation and shall work with the staff to coordinate meetings of the Board of Directors, assure good communications with and among directors, promote linkages among committees and task forces, identify resources, oversee finances, and otherwise see that orders and resolutions of the Board of Directors are carried into effect. The chair shall act as chair of the Executive Committee. In the interval between meetings of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee shall have the authority of the Board of Directors to make critical, time-sensitive management decisions, but shall at all other times be subject to the control and direction of the Board of Directors, and shall have no policy making authority except as may be expressly granted by the Board of Directors. Actions taken by the Executive Committee shall be reported in writing to the directors prior to or at the next meeting of the Board of Directors.

Section 2. Members of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall include the Chair, the Vice-Chair, the Treasurer, the head of staff (if any) of the Corporation, and any others appointed by the Board of Directors. The Board shall appoint persons to the Executive Committee at its January board meeting, with the new appointed members of the Executive Committee to begin their terms at the subsequent Board meeting. The term of office for the Executive Committee shall be for one year or until the election of successors. Any member of the Executive Committee may be removed from the Executive Committee at any time prior to the expiration of his or her term by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors, where written notice of the proposed action has been given to the directors personally or by mail (postage prepaid), electronic mail, or facsimile at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. Any vacancy occurring on the Executive Committee shall be filled by the Board of Directors, where written notice of the election has been given to the directors personally or by mail (postage prepaid), electronic mail, or facsimile at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. There shall be no limitation on the number of consecutive terms a person may serve on the Executive Committee.

Section 3. Other Committees. The Board of Directors may act by and through such other committees as may be specified in resolutions adopted by the Board of Directors. Each such committee shall have such duties and responsibilities as are granted to it from time to time by the Board of Directors. Each such committee shall at all times be subject to the control and direction of the Board of Directors. Committee members, except as specifically provided for the Executive Committee, need not be directors.

Section 4. Task Forces. The Board of Directors may establish task forces to focus on specific goals of the Corporation and outcomes. Task forces are time-limited, task-focused work groups that develop recommendations to the Board of Directors for pursuing possible action. Members of the task forces need not be directors. Task forces shall generate a work plan that outlines goals, action steps, persons responsible and expected results; shall seek representation of vested parties and active involvement of community members in the process; shall oversee any work plan approved by the Board of Directors; and shall regularly report progress to the Board of Directors. Task forces shall provide meeting agendas and minutes to the Executive Committee for regular distribution to the directors and alternates. Each task force shall at all times be subject to the control and direction of the Board of Directors.

Section 5. Meetings and Voting. Meetings of each committee or task force may be held at such time and place as are announced at a previous meeting of the committee or task force. Meetings of any committee or task force may also be called at any time by the chairperson of the committee or task force or by the Chair, with notice given to the committee or task force members personally or by mail (postage prepaid), electronic mail, or facsimile, or by telephone, at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting. Appearance at a meeting is deemed to be a waiver of notice unless the committee or task force member objects at the beginning of the meeting to the transaction of business because the meeting is not lawfully called or convened and the committee or task force member does not participate in the meeting. At all meetings of a committee or task force of the Corporation each member thereof shall be entitled to cast one vote on any question coming before such meeting. The presence of one-third of the membership of any committee or task force of the Corporation shall constitute a quorum at any meeting thereof, but the members of a committee or task force present at any such meeting, although less than a quorum, may adjourn the meeting from time to time. A majority vote of the members of a committee or task force of the Corporation present at any meeting thereof, if there be a quorum, shall be sufficient for the transaction of business of such committee or task force. Any action that could be taken at a committee or task force meeting may be taken by written action signed by all members of the committee or task force.

ARTICLE VI: LIABILITY

Section 1. Indemnity. To the full extent permitted by any applicable law, the Corporation shall indemnify each person made or threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending or completed civil, criminal, administrative, arbitration, or investigative proceeding, including a proceeding by or in the right of the Corporation, by reason of the former or present capacity of the person as director, officer, employee, or member of a committee or task force of the Corporation, or other person serving the Corporation in an official capacity.

Section 2. Survival. The indemnification provided by Section 1 of this Article shall continue as to a person who has ceased to be a member, director, officer, employee, or member of a committee or task force of the Corporation, or other person serving the Corporation in an official capacity, shall inure to the benefit of the heirs, executors and administrators of such person, and shall apply whether or not the claim against such person arises out of matters occurring before the adoption of this Section. Any indemnification realized other than under this Section shall apply as a credit against any indemnification provided by this Section.

Section 3. Insurance. The Corporation may, to the full extent permitted by applicable law from time to time in effect, purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of any person who is or was a member, director, officer, employee, or member of a committee or task force of the Corporation, or other person serving the Corporation in an official capacity against any liability asserted against such person and incurred by such person in any such capacity.

Section 4. Conflicts of Interest. The Corporation shall not enter into any contract or transaction with (a) one or more its directors; or (b) an organization or business entity in or of which a director is a director, officer, legal representative, or has a material financial interest; unless the material facts as to the contract or transaction and as to the director's or alternate's interest are fully disclosed or known to the Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors authorizes, approves, or ratifies the contract or transaction in good faith by the affirmative vote of a majority of the directors (without counting the interested director or directors) present at a meeting of the Board of Directors at which there is a quorum. Business people serve at their own pleasure and not as representatives of their employers or businesses. Failure to comply with the provisions of this Section shall not invalidate any contract or transaction to which the Corporation is party. All contracts entered into by the Corporation shall include a clause concerning conflict of interest. All directors will be required to sign an annual Disclosure of Interest Questionnaire. The Board shall enact additional Conflict of Interest Policy requirements from time to time as it deems appropriate.

ARTICLE VII: MISCELLANEOUS

Section 1. Fiscal Year. The Board of Directors shall set the fiscal year of the Corporation.

Section 2. Audit. An independent review of the financial operations of the Corporation shall be completed no less than biennially by a financial consultant selected by the Board of Directors. Additional audits shall be completed as required by the funders of the Corporation and governmental or regulatory authorities.

Section 3. Electronic Communications. A conference among directors, or members of a committee or task force by any means of communication through which such persons may simultaneously hear each other during the conference is a meeting of the members, Board of Directors, committee or task force, as the case may be, if the same notice is given of the conference as would be required for a meeting, and if the number of persons participating in the conference would be sufficient to constitute a quorum at a meeting. Participation in a meeting by that means constitutes presence in person at the meeting.

Section 4. Amendments. The Articles of Incorporation of the Corporation and these By-laws may be amended by a two-thirds vote at a duly constituted meeting of the Board of Directors. All directors shall be notified of any proposed amendments at least sixty (60) days prior to the action of the Board of Directors to change the By-laws. Such notice shall include the full text of the proposed amendments and the changes from the existing By-laws. Any substantive amendments made to the proposed amendments to the by-laws at the duly constituted meeting of the board of directors shall not be put to a final vote until the next regular board of directors meeting, after notice has been provided to each voting member of the full text of the final proposed amendments to the by-laws.

Section 5. Authority to Borrow and Encumber Assets. No director, officer, agent, employee, or member of a committee or task force of the Corporation shall have any power or authority to borrow money on its behalf, to pledge its credit or to mortgage or pledge its real or personal property except within the scope and to the extent of the authority delegated by resolutions adopted from time to time by the Board of Directors. Authority may be given by the Board of Directors for any of the above purposes and may be general or limited to specific instances.

Section 6. Deposit of Funds. All funds of the Corporation shall be deposited from time to time to the credit of the Corporation in such banks, trust companies or other depositories as the Board of Directors may approve or designate, and all such funds shall be withdrawn only in the manner or manners authorized by the Board of Directors from time to time.

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More Complete History of University UNITED:
Revised May 4, 2009

In 1977 leaders at the Midway Civic and Commerce sought to improve relations with the area's residential community and invited the district councils bordering University Avenue to participate in their Economic Development Committee meetings. University UNITED, a collaboration of businesses and residents, was founded in 1981 as an outgrowth of these meetings. Also during the 1970's, the U.S. Small Business Administration set up a program to work with local agencies called Local Development Companies (LDC) to funnel low-interest loans to small businesses. Three LDCs had been organized along the University Avenue corridor. They later merged to form the University Midway Local Development Company, which in 1991 merged with University UNITED.

A watershed moment in UNITED's history was the commissioning of a comprehensive planning study for the University Avenue Corridor by Chair Bruce Davis in 1987, who had raised funds from the McKnight Foundation. The consultant team of Dahlgren, Shardlow, and Uban was retained, and they completed a report entitled the University Avenue Corridor Study, which described the potential for new commercial and housing development along the corridor. This was largely adopted into the City Comprehensive Plan, although the recommendations about infill housing were not included.

UNITED's first and largest implementation effort was the International Marketplace Project, funded in the early 1990s with $1.5 million in federal Urban Revitalization Action Program (URAP) dollars provided by the City of St. Paul. This program included financing for the development of International Plaza (an Asian/International mini-mall), streetscape improvements including 17 new ornamental street lanterns, and façade improvements for 17 businesses in the two block stretch between Western and Mackubin Avenues. By 1993, the program had leveraged $3.4 in private investment, the creation of 65 full-time and 12 part-time jobs, and 35 new businesses.

The coordinator of the URAP/ International Marketplace Project, Dave Gagne, was hired as the first staff person of UNITED. Under Gagne's leadership UNITED took on several new projects, including the "Gateway" Project to revitalize the University and Raymond intersection and the Commercial Revitalization Project for façade improvements between Lexington and Rice.

In 1990 UNITED established the University/Dale Task Force, which helped facilitate the closing of the pornographic Faust Theatre and led to the City acquisition of the south west corner, where the Rondo Library now stands.

UNITED's next major endeavor, also funded by the McKnight Foundation, was the Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) survey of 1995, led by UNITED's first full-time executive director Michael Darger. This study looked at the needs of 31 Midway manufacturing firms that paid living wage wages and had a potential interest in expanding. The survey found that the issue of greatest concern was finding, retaining, and training a quality workforce. Several programs emerged from this study. Over a period of five years, UNITED organized eight Midway Job and Opportunity Fairs and more than a dozen workshops which attracted more than 200 employers and thousands of jobseekers. UNITED also established a School/Business Partnership, a CEO of Manufacturers Roundtable, and the Midway Commercial Space Inventory. This program won an "Exemplar" award from BR&E International in 1998.

In the mid-to-late 1990's UNITED organized several task forces on issues related to crime prevention including prostitution, "cruising" on University Avenue and crime problems facing new immigrant business owners on University Avenue. Under the leadership of Executive Director Irene Rodriguez, this effort led to the creation of the Empowerment of New American Business Leaders (ENABLE) Program, a partnership between UNITED, the St. Paul Police Department, and other community stakeholders. In 1999 and 2000, the ENABLE Program won national recognition as a model of community-oriented policing.

In 1997 UNITED helped create the Midway Design Collaborative, which established the University Avenue Development Principles, and evolved into the University Avenue Corridor Initiative (UACI). In 2000, UNITED, the UACI, and the Midway Chamber of Commerce jointly established the "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design" (CPTED) STAR Program. This was awarded $300,000 in City STAR monies to help University Avenue businesses make exterior improvements consistent with CPTED principles.

In 2001, new Executive Director Brian McMahon helped complete the merger of University UNITED and the University Avenue Corridor Initiative, and refocused UNITED on issues of brick and mortar development and planning. In that year, UNITED partnered with nonprofit housing developer Central Community Housing Trust to propose Lexington Park, a 350 unit mixed-use housing development on the southwest corner of University and Lexington, as an alternative to a proposed Home Depot. UNITED also prepared an extensive research report on Student Housing Options in the Midway which detailed the case for student housing on University Avenue for area colleges and universities.

In 2001 UNITED prepared a funding application to the Metropolitan Council for a study of transit-oriented development opportunities at the University Avenue intersections at Snelling and Lexington, and a $70,000 grant was awarded to the City of St. Paul. UNITED's board passed a resolution in 2001 calling for the creation of 2,000 new housing units in the corridor over the next decade - at a time when no housing had been built on the corridor in over 75 years. In that year UNITED released its first newsletter, Corridor Connections, and created its first website, www.universityunited.com.

In 2002, UNITED's board approved a resolution adopting Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) as the framework by which the organization would judge development proposals for the corridor. This significant policy change was incorporated directly into the organizational bylaws. UNITED organized a lecture series entitled "Making a Great Street" which featured experts in the areas of housing, transportation, public art, and placemaking, and presented an exhibit entitled "Big Plans" which showcased the dozens of proposals that had been developed for University Avenue over the years. The lecture series, exhibit and many other community meetings were held in UNITED's first Planning Center, at 712 University Avenue. A Housing Task Force utilized the maps and aerial photographs at the Center to identify priority sites for 3,000 new housing units in a report issued that year.

In addition to increasing housing, jobs, tax base, and environmental sustainability, transit oriented development is a very effective crime-prevention tool because it incorporates CPTED principles. A mix of land uses with "eyes on the street", and an attractive and welcoming pedestrian environment, is a proven deterrent of crime and anti-social behavior. UNITED has continued its historic role in crime prevention by also offering workshops for merchants and facilitating community meetings with the police department.

There were several other significant bylaws' changes in 2002. Board members were empowered to vote with "autonomy" thereby allowing organizational representatives to make decisions at the meetings. Additionally, a category of business representatives selected by the full Board replaced the earlier model of having the Midway Chamber of Commerce designate the business delegates. Finally, two new organizational members were admitted, the Greater Frogtown Community Development Corporation, and the Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association in Minneapolis.

UNITED formed a Task Force in 2002 to research activities and development opportunities in the 1,200 acre Midway industrial area. As part of this multi-year study, UNITED did considerable research on the development potential of biotechnology clusters. It also commissioned a transportation study which demonstrated the inadequacy of the existing infrastructure, which would be further exacerbated by planned development. UNITED also proposed a new north-south bridge at Vandalia Street crossing the BNSF train tracks to increase connectivity. As part of its ongoing study of the industrial area, UNITED, later partnered with the Green Institute and sponsored a one-day workshop with a panel of international experts on the potential for using a new power plant for the Rock-Tenn recycling plant as the centerpiece for a larger eco-industrial complex.

In 2002, UNITED invested considerable effort to improve the appearance of the proposed Menard's Home Improvement Store at Prior and University. It retained an architectural consultant who did numerous façade sketches, and organized several community meetings. This set the pattern for how UNITED dealt with future development proposals.

For several years, University UNITED operated as the fiscal sponsor for the Midway Transportation Management Organization (TMO), a new transportation advocacy group. In 2002, this group was incorporated into UNITED as an operating program, led by staff member Russ Stark.

The 25th Anniversary of University UNITED was celebrated in 2002 with an exhibit of historic pictures of University Avenue. That year was also the start of one of UNITED's most successful ongoing activities, the Annual Awards Program, with the first event held at Andy's Garage.

In 2003, UNITED initiated a major, multi-year study of the Midway retail centers which included extensive survey and outreach work, market research, and architectural visioning. UNITED also continued to be a strong advocate for TOD as part of the planning process for the Lexington and Snelling intersections.

UNITED took the lead on opposing a proposed CVS drug store at Snelling and University which did not meet TOD criteria. UNITED offered specific design alternatives and options which it had generated at a very well-attended design charrette led by almost a dozen architects. Through intense negotiations, and an appeal to the city Council, some improvements to the project were secured.

A very successful charrette was also held for Dickerman Park, a linear green space between Fairview and Aldine Avenues, which was owned by the city - but unrecognized as a community asset. Funding was secured to do a master plan, completed by the noted landscape architecture firm of Coen + Partners.

Development activity on the corridor intensified in 2004 with the acquisition of the 8 acre parcel on the south west corner of Lexington and University. The new owner proposed subdividing the site into four or five lots which would be sold separately for suburban-style developments. UNITED strongly opposed the lot splits, as well as proposals to build a single story Aldi's, a single story TCF Branch Bank, and various other aspects of the development. Through intense negotiation and a number of formal appeals to City Council, the individual projects were improved. Aldi's added considerable height to their building abutting the University Avenue frontage. TCF added a second floor and reduced the number of drive-through lanes. Continued community pressure over the next several years helped ensure several high-quality projects including the Wilder Foundation headquarters, and Carty Heights, a senior citizens housing complex.

From 2004 on, UNITED led strong campaigns to have the city enact a temporary TOD overlay zoning district and permanent TN zoning. This was based upon extensive research into best practices from other cities around the country and the development of a draft model ordinance which received considerable support.

With the interest in the Dickerman Park project, and the successful development at Episcopal Homes on the south west corner of Fairview and University, and the potential for a new YMCA and refurbished Griggs Midway complex, UNITED felt the time was right in 2005 to do a master plan for the entire Fairview intersection. It retained the architectural firm of Hokanson, Lunning and Wende to look at all the development potential at the corner and explore ways for coordinating individual projects addressing such issues as parking, open space, circulation, storm water management and the like. The plan was presented to all the impacted property owners and the city, sparking discussions about ways to coordinate future development.

UNITED continued researching Midway retail issues and envisioned a complete revamping of the three adjoining shopping centers. It challenged a developer agreement between the city and RK Midway that was made without any community input, and opposed a proposal to bring in big-box development at Snelling and University. UNITED also opposed the demolition of the Midway Sheraton Hotel to make way for a new SuperTarget project. In every instance where UNITED played an oppositional role, it offered architectural drawings detailing alternative options. While UNITED did not often prevail on its challenges, it usually was able to negotiate incremental improvements that made the projects more in keeping with TOD guidelines. Before the Midway Sheraton was torn down, UNITED hosted a very well attended University Avenue Development Exposition in the convention area that displayed dozens of projects along the corridor in various stages of development.

In 2005, St. Paul, Ramsey County and the state initiated the Snelling University Congestion Study (SUCS) a transportation study which ultimately moved towards recommending a six lane tunnel under University and Snelling. UNITED participated in a broad community effort opposing this proposal because of its disruptive impact on the pedestrian environment and the prospects for transit-oriented development at that critical intersection. UNITED repeated its call for a study of the larger traffic system bounded by I-94 on the south, Highway 36 on the north, and 35E on the east and 35W on the west.

It became increasingly clear that the lack of a corridor merchant's group left small businesses underrepresented in many of the important community discussions. In 2005 UNITED made efforts to organize the retailers and established the University Avenue Merchants Association. While it had successful programs and good attendance at a number of events over the years, real success did not come until 2008 when staff member, Linda Winsor, took over the project. Renamed the University Avenue Business Association (UABA), it now has over 150 active members, a slate of elected officers, a strong executive committee, and will soon be moving to a membership fee structure and a more independent role. It has become the most important and effective voice of small businesses along the corridor.

Several important research projects commenced in 2005, including an examination of how the property tax system impacts development, and a study by the Midway TMO of parking along the corridor. When completed in subsequent years, both reports had significant policy impacts.

In 2005 there was considerable discussion about the upcoming light rail project, and UNITED's potential role in this development. UNITED opted for several reasons to not take a significant role. Because it was already perceived as an advocate for LRT, UNITED felt it could not play an impartial community convening role. Additionally, because UNITED was very focused on land use issues and promoting TOD, it believed that taking a major role in LRT would unduly complicate its relations with property owners - many of whom harbored serious misgivings about LRT. For that reason in June, 2005, UNITED commenced an effort to form a new, independent community organization that would represent the neighborhood associations along the corridor in the important work relating to LRT. UNITED provided start-up funding for a staff person and was successful in securing multi-year funding for the new group, which eventually became known as the District Councils Collaborative.

With the increasing pace of planning for land use, LRT, and various development proposals, UNITED responded in 2006 by creating U-PLAN, a community-based planning and design studio, which offers technical support service to stakeholders along the corridor. Operating from a storefront at 1956 University, U-PLAN has provided maps, graphics, drawings and research reports to scores of community organizations, small businesses, and stakeholders. One of its most successful programs was the AIA 150, which was a partnership with the St. Paul Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, marking the 150th anniversary of their national organization. Over 50 volunteer architects and designers worked with property owners on fourteen blocks along University Avenue to do "visioning studies" showing how their sites could be redeveloped over time to better take advantage of the light rail project.

The block at the north east corner of University and Snelling was the initial pilot project. Working with Russ Stark of the Midway TMO, a very detailed plan was developed for shared off-street parking. This effort has served as the model for several subsequent parking studies.

At the request of various community organizations, U-PLAN played a significant role in reviewing several major development proposals including a SuperTarget at Hamline Avenue, and a second proposal for Home Depot at Snelling and the St. Anthony Frontage Road. Numerous options and alternatives for these projects were developed. University UNITED took the lead on strongly advocating for improvements that would make the projects more transit and pedestrian friendly.

In 2006, the TMO hired its first full time staff person, Jessica Treat, and launched the Midway in Motion project promoting walking, biking and transit.

In 2007 UNITED created an environmental working group with the goal of promoting the University Avenue corridor as one of the "greenest streets" in the country. Conversations are ongoing with a number of environmental groups and utility companies about the possibility of creating a "one stop shop" for small businesses to learn about the variety of conservation and retrofit programs. UNITED and U-PLAN did considerable research on best-practices in cities around the country and drafted a model environmental ordinance for the consideration of St. Paul. It has also established a carbon footprint calculator and did a baseline model for the corridor and hopes to continue tracking progress in future years.

The preliminary design of the LRT project unveiled in 2007 and 2008 raised great concern in the community. In three of the most transit dependent neighborhoods on the eastern end of the Avenue, stations were spaced a mile apart. Almost all on-street parking spaces were eliminated. There was a backpedaling on the commitment for extensive streetscape improvements. In 2008, UNITED reversed its earlier decision to not engage around the LRT issue primarily because of the growing acceptance of the project by the community and emergence of a consensus around critical issues, and the need to address critical technical elements that were not being addressed by other organizations. It was recognized that U-PLAN could play a unique role in reviewing the details of the LRT proposal, and the related issues of parking and streetscape. UNITED collaborated with other groups in strongly advocating for improvements to the preliminary design proposal. U-PLAN prepared maps showing how the transit-dependant populations were not being adequately served, and other graphics showing the potential development opportunities around some of the "missing" stations. U-PLAN also played a pivotal role in "translating" the official Met Council civil engineering drawings of the LRT project to 3D drawings that were more easily understood. This led to a formal request by Minneapolis and St. Paul for improved graphic materials from Met Council. U-PLAN also prepared numerous maps and drawings documenting how the loss of street parking would impact small businesses and the pedestrian environment, and also developed alternative options.

For reasons relating to fundraising, UNITED decided in 2008 to separate from the District Councils Collaborative.

History and culture greatly influence planning and development discussions. Recognizing the need for more engagement, UNITED in 2008 helped organize the University Avenue History Group. Several workshops were presented on researching local history, and a website on University Avenue history was created. UNITED received a grant from the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission to do an exhibit on the history of the University and Prior Avenue intersection which opened at the Landmark Center in 2009.

In 2008 UNITED helped convene the Frogtown Rondo Partnership which received a grant from the Ford Foundation to participate in a national pilot project that aimed to bring technology tools and resources to communities that were experiencing significant change as a result of a project like light rail. This collaboration did considerable research and data gathering and developed a variety of innovative tools and modeling programs.

From its earliest days, UNITED has benefited from the strong, progressive leadership of its Board comprised of neighborhood and business representatives reflective of the diverse interests of the community. UNITED has also been fortunate to receive strong financial support from area foundations and corporations.

Over the past 30 years the work of University UNITED has been quite diverse and has constantly evolved with the changing needs of the community. From crime prevention, to workforce development, to engaging on future development projects, the connecting thread has been the ability of UNITED to bring together businesses and residents for the betterment of the people living and working along the University Avenue corridor.

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