The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 16, 2013

Krohn: Area has a good start on urban must-haves

As Mankato civic, business and government leaders purposely guide Mankato’s transition from big town on the prairie to real metropolitan area, it’s useful to step back and take a look at what we have to work with.

There are all sorts of ways to take the measure of a city. A Seattle land-use lawyer, who writes extensively about urban landscapes in The Atlantic Cities (TheAtlanticCities.com), has some interesting takes on what he thinks are the top 10 things that make an urban area a rich place to live and work in.

Wolfe can get a bit esoteric, but his list is more interesting than the normal lists of “safest cities” or “best places to raise a family.”  

Here’s a few of his urban must-haves.

Wood-framed storefronts and proud displays

It conjures an image of the dark-wood, warmly lit storefronts displaying top hats in old English cities.

Mankato doesn’t have a lot of wood storefronts, but there are plenty of brick and stone storefronts, which are natural materials and should count the same.

As for proud displays, the Old Town stretch has the most. The dramatic effect of lights in the Denco Lighting storefront, Nicollet South Bike Shop and others on the Old Town stretch qualify as proud displays.

The new Tandem Bagels on Second Street downtown creates a quaint storefront,  and the new ballet school in the old Earthly Remains building on Front Street, with its large windows, fits the bill.

The city has a decent start on the storefront front with the most potential along Riverfront Drive, Front Street downtown and Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato.

Water features that emulate nature, in context

On the plus side, we don’t need to emulate water features — we have a big river rolling right through town. And we have Hiniker Pond and Spring Lake.

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