At the Cottage View Drive-In you will soon buy clothes, groceries and other sundries when it becomes a Wal-Mart. I’ve spent many happy summer evenings there, but it couldn’t top the Starlite Drive-in of my youth. I’ll miss it never the less.

Does it matter? 9/11 relevance? No. Changes that make you think? Most definitely. Will it join the ranks of the Lost Twin Cities? Maybe. The Ford plant in my new hometown just closed, too. It too left a physical and subconscious void.

What to do, what to do…

1) Win the lottery

2) Buy the old Ford site

3) Build the dream commerce village

4) With a 3-screen drive-in theatre in the center courtyard.

Somehow I think #3 would be the most difficult.

The Ford site sits on the Mississippi River bluffs overlooking Minneapolis and Minnehaha Falls. With 122 possibly very dirty acres, the site must become something amazing at unknown cost.

How much revenue must it generate for the city?

Will locals live there? play in a giant park? build knowledge-centric widgets? grow tomatoes? make art?

What about a gated community of 2-acre McMansions? Nah, we are too plebeian in the Saintly City.

How about a planned retail village? See Block E if you think that would really work.


Here’s my vision.

I’m not saying it would work, but it’s a place to start, to dream, to wonder.

Remember, my plan is predicated on winning at least $100,000,000 — I figure if I’m going to dream, I should dream BIG. This is not a money-making venture; it’s a quality of life concept.

In the center will be a courtyard with my 3-screen drive-in theatre by night in the form of a triangle with the concessions underneath. By day the courtyard will serve as a parking lot, park and drop in lunch stand. The perimeter will include artist quarters, housing, green manufacturing, community gardens, knowledge work, and undoubtedly a few chickens. I might as well add in a new light-rail line, while I’m dreaming.

Commune? No.

But like the French, I think there is value in financially supporting what you desire in your community. No, I don’t think we need to spend 47% of the state’s budget to support my fantasy village, but I think there is some common space between the two.

What would you build on the Ford site?




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