The first of many weekend closures of a typically busy block of N. 1st Avenue in downtown Minneapolis begins Friday to make room for an enhanced warm-weather gathering space on Friday and Saturday nights.
From this weekend until the weekend before Halloween, traffic closures on N. 1st Avenue from 5th to 6th streets will begin at 9 a.m. Fridays and continue until 10 a.m. Sundays, the city said in a statement Wednesday.
The "Warehouse District Live" will have food trucks, activities, seating and portable restrooms.
"The temporary street closures add space to the entertainment district and help create a welcoming and safe zone that's more friendly to people on foot," the city said in a statement this week.
The zone will be surrounded by restaurants and bars and steps away from Target Field and other downtown attractions.
A senior officer with the business-led Downtown Improvement District (DID), the organizing force that joined with the city to create the entertainment zone, outlined the plan being put in place to make the space as safe as possible for the thousands of visitors anticipated on this holiday weekend, which has the Minnesota Twins playing ball nearby Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
Ben Shardlow, DID's urban design director, said the block will be sealed from traffic by concrete and metal barriers that can be moved quickly should an emergency vehicle need to enter quickly.
Shardlow said that along with the presence of Minneapolis police, his organization is adding "extra layers of supporting personnel" in consultation with the MPD. Those include "a full security team working the perimeter of the block" and two civilian outreach teams, Mad Dads and 21 Days of Peace.
After checking in with other cities that have created entertainment zones — among them Des Moines, Memphis and Albuquerque — Shardlow said the DID chose not to have security use electronic wands to check visitors for weapons or set up airport-style walk-through scanners.
"There have been cities that have taken the approach of having a hard perimeter," Shardlow said, "and they weren't getting a positive or welcoming environment."