Hopkins Artery project to begin in April

By Gabby Landsverk, Sun Sailor Newspapers

After long months of planning and discussion, the Eighth Avenue Reconstruction project in Hopkins, known as the “ARTery,” will get underway next month, thanks to the March 7 approval by the Hopkins City Council of contracts for both the construction and art-designed elements.

The Artery, a proposed reconstruction of Eighth Avenue featuring community art installations and a bicycle pathway, has been in development for a number of years, according to City Engineer Nate Stanley.
“It was born out of the idea that we wanted to create a more visible presence for downtown Hopkins,” he said at a previous council meeting. “The vision has always been to create a vibrant multi-modal corridor which will open up Mainstreet to the large volume of the traveling public.”

With the combined efforts of Hopkins, Hennepin County, Three Rivers Park District and the Metropolitan Council, the long-awaited art corridor will soon become a reality, with construction scheduled to start in April with an anticipated October completion date.

The artistic components of the project, including four permanent art installations, were planned through a thorough submission process.
More than 90 artists applied, with applications reviewed by a public art committee during a period of several months, said Community Development Coordinator Meg Beekman.

All four components of the project are budgeted at a total cost to the city of $178,500. The commission price includes all expenses on the project, including labor and travel, although the city will be responsible for any subgrade work related to the pieces.

The first piece, Beekman said, combines function and form in a street closure sculpture at the corner of First Street South and Eighth Avenue, which will be used to block to roadway for construction and events but also offer an artistic element to the area. The contract for $30,000 was awarded to Andrea Myklebust and Stanton Sears of Stockholm, Wisconsin.
“It’s one we think will be very tricky. It needs to meet technical specifications but also be durable, move and do all sorts of other things as a piece of art and a functional element of this street. This team we think has the experience to deliver that,” Beekman said.

The second piece is a photo-op bench as a destination and resting point for visitors along the Artery.
“The idea really is to create a seating element but one that spurs public interaction,” Beekman said.
The $25,000 contract was awarded to Ben Zamora of Seattle, Washington.
“One of the elements the committee was most draw to is how interactive his sculptures are. They’re pieces people really want to play with and be part of,” Beekman said.

The third and largest component of the project is a shade canopy for the Artery plaza area. The contract for $65,000 was awarded to the artist team of Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of Brooklyn, New York, whom Beekman described as very experienced in large-scale, visible public works.

Last but not least, a $50,000 contract for a large illuminated sculpture on the corner of Excelsior Boulevard and Eighth Avenue was awarded to James Brenner of Minneapolis.
“The goal is for it to be a really dramatic anchor on the corridor,” Beekman said.

A fifth item in the project, two-dimensional art panels for the corridor, will be re-bid in a separate request for proposals with an increased focus on local artists.
“The submissions for these weren’t as strong. We did not have many artists apply for this particular element,” Beekman said.
Proposals for the project, budgeted at $1,000 per panel, will be brought to the council at a future meeting.

Mayor Molly Cummings added that portfolios for all the contracted artists are available online, and display some of the skill the city can look forward.
“It’s unbelievable some of the work that they’ve done. It really gives you a flavor for what they have in mind,” she said. “The vision and commitment of all the partners has been astounding. … It’s very exciting and will be fun to see it come to fruition this year.”

The next steps of the project include city staff members meeting with artists in the coming weeks, with concept designs to be reviewed in May and installation of finished works slated for October or November.

The council approved the construction proposal for the Artery, with a contract of $5.198 million awarded Meyer Contracting.
Reconstruction of Eighth Avenue includes improvements such as bicycle paths, trails, sidewalks and landscaping as well as utilities.

The most noticeable impact for motorists will be the change of Eighth Avenue to a one-way street from First Street South to Mainstreet, said Michael Waltman, lead project engineer with Bolton and Menk.
The addition of the two-way cycle track will connect continuously to the Lake Minnetonka Trail.
Other additions include unique lighting for the corridor and rain gardens and catch basins for stormwater management.
The total project budget, including indirect and contingency costs, is $5.698 million, $1.145 million more than initially estimated.
“The project came in a little bit higher than we were hoping, but after our research, we feel it’s a responsible bid worth moving forward on and recommend approval,” Stanley said.

Kersten Elverum, director of economic development, added that greenlighting the Artery project is the end result of years of work.
“This is a pretty monumental night for us. For a long time, we’ve really had a desire to create a better gateway to Mainstreet from Excelsior Boulevard. Long before LRT was a reality, that was a need the community had,” Elverum said.

In its other business, the council approved a resolution to raise the salaries of the mayor and council members, as recommended by city staff. The mayor’s salary will increase from $8,000 to $9,560, while members of the council will receive an increase from $6,000 to $7,325. These numbers in based on the median of salaries in neighboring and similar cities, said assistant city manager Ari Lenz.
The raise will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Contact Gabby Landsverk at [email protected]