Knowledge Center

Activating Nicollet | A Street for All

The complete renovation of Nicollet Mall—the city of Minneapolis’ historic pedestrian/transit mall and commercial main street—was completed in late 2017 after two plus years of intense and highly disruptive construction. The challenge in reanimating Nicollet was to 1) capitalize on the new public spaces and infrastructure, 2) engage the downtown community to develop an inclusive range of cultural experiences for daily users and visitors, and 3) execute an activation plan that would draw people back to the street.

The Downtown Improvement District (Minneapolis’ BID) through its sister organization the Downtown Council played a central role in visioning and planning the new Nicollet. As the organization charged by the city to maintain Nicollet (including cleaning, trash, snow removal, and routine maintenance), the DID was already a significant stakeholder in the success of the project. In stepping into responsibility for Nicollet activation, the DID acknowledged how placemaking significantly supports their mission to keep downtown clean, green, safe and vibrant. Drawing strength from earlier experiments in smaller-scale downtown public space interventions, they embraced the challenge, developed a professional full-time staff position, and established a right-sized budget.

The DID also worked closely with the City of Minneapolis to reshape the Nicollet policy guidelines to encourage activation and provide open access to public spaces. Explicit “Activation zones” were defined, removing barriers and reducing permitting needs, in order to support spontaneous street activity.

Now more than a year later, Nicollet enjoys a robust activation program of inclusive, year-round activities. With a first-year strategy focused on attracting events, amplifying partner efforts, incubating programs for the future and filling in the gaps, DID served more than 1,200 hours of activation programming. Tens of thousands experienced myriad activities—and that’s not counting the million people who enjoyed Nicollet during Super Bowl LII festivities earlier in the year.”

Project Details

Activating Nicollet | A Street for All

Mpls Downtown Improvement District


Events and Programming
$5000001 - $7500000