While in North Mankato recently for a family reunion, I learned of the new Frandsen Bank complex on Belgrade Avenue.
I was encouraged by plans to site the new buildings at the sidewalk line and to relegate parking to the rear. That move will be a big step in restoring the Belgrade Avenue commercial streetscape and making it more pedestrian-friendly.
However, I was disappointed at the design of the new restaurant and bank. The architecture's rhythm, massing and proportions of its openings fail to reflect the historical character of its Belgrade Avenue neighbors. Also, since the design is very tenant-specific, it neglects to address the multiple uses to which these buildings will be subjected to over a projected 80-100 year lifespan.
Across the country, many cities with significant architectural heritage (such as Mankato) utilize Historic Preservation Commissions to review and advise on projects in their historic districts.
HPCs promote a unified vision, stability and predictability. Statistically, historic districts steered by HPCs enjoy higher real estate values than equal districts without review. My town of Palm Beach has had active design review for over 90 years, and the results speak for themselves.
North Mankato has an impressive and very cohesive collection of significant homes and businesses. I hope in the future that city leaders will opt to utilize an HPC to protect and maintain that legacy.
Palm Beach, Florida