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Jan 14, 2022

Axios Twin Cities

Happy Friday!

❄️ Snow is arriving in the Twin Cities this morning and totals could range from 1 inch in the northeast metro to 4 inches in the southwest. Go deeper via MPR News.

Programming note: We're off Monday, MLK Day, but expect us back in your inbox bright and early Tuesday.

Today's newsletter is 965 words — a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: Rent control will be top issue for Minneapolis council

Elliott Payne is one of several council members pushing for a strict rent control policy in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Elliott Payne

Several progressive Minneapolis City Council members are making a strict rent control ordinance their first big to-do at City Hall.

Why it matters: 53% of voters approved a ballot measure last November giving the new City Council power to enact some kind of rent control ordinance.

Between the lines: Mayor Jacob Frey and City Council President Andrea Jenkins have not signaled support for a strict ordinance like the one that recently passed in St. Paul, which caps increases at 3%.

  • St. Paul's also doesn't provide exemptions for new development or for a landlord to raise rents after a tenant leaves their unit.

What they're saying: Minneapolis' Ward 1 City Council Member Elliott Payne wants a strict policy.

  • "That's going to be one of the very first things we do because I think rent control is going to be one of the primary policy tools for stopping the displacement (of renters)," he said.

Yes, but: Jenkins told Nick she wants a more targeted ordinance.

  • "We have data. We have research. We know who is being impacted by these nefarious landlords. We know where they live. And so we can craft a policy to really get at where the issues are."

By the numbers: Twin Cities metro rent prices increased by 3.3% in 2021, according to new Consumer Price Index data released Wednesday.

The bottom line: If Frey doesn't support a strict policy, it's not likely to happen. But it remains to be seen if some type of ordinance becomes law.

2. Scoop: Nicollet Mall restaurant getting new life

Ties Lounge & Rooftop will open next month. Photo courtesy of Ties Lounge & Rooftop

A big and high-profile bar and restaurant space on Nicollet Mall is coming back to life this spring with new operators.

Driving the news: Ties Lounge & Rooftop is opening next month at 921 Nicollet Ave., the four-story, 15,000-square-foot building that formerly housed Randle's and Rojo Mexican Grill.

Why it matters: It's the latest effort to reanimate a downtown Minneapolis — and particularly Nicollet Mall — that is struggling to recover from the pandemic as most of its major employers haven't brought their workers back to the office.

Flashback: The building has been vacant since 2019 after a former operator opened and closed three restaurants in a span of three years.

Details: Three promoters of events are now operating the space, with plans for a basement dance floor, mezzanine lounge and large rooftop patio.

  • Joey Meatballs owner Joshua Hedquist will run a kitchen serving Italian food on the first floor.

What they're saying: "People have to give downtown a chance again. It's part of our community," said co-owner Gene Sanguma. "We can bring back unity through entertainment — out with the old, in with the new."

Of note: Sanguma, 25, Tommy Joyce, 25, and Stevie Moman, 26, previously ran Minneapolis Ties, promoting events at popular downtown Minneapolis bars like Crave, Union Rooftop and Pourhouse.

What's next: A grand opening will be held mid-February.

3. What's on tap this weekend

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

If you're feeling iffy about indoor events as Omicron prompts more cancellations, check out these things to do outside this weekend.

🧊 Get lost in the 10-foot-tall walls of the Ice Palace Maze, which opens today in Stillwater. Bonus: finishers can go down a giant ice slide. $12-$20.

⛺️ The Art Shanty Projects are back on frozen Lake Harriet starting Saturday! Free, donations encouraged.

⛷ Watch brave athletes from around the world plummet down a 300-foot ramp in a Nordic Ski Jumping competition in Bloomington this Sunday. $10, or free for kids 12 and under.

🚲 The Coldest Day of the Year bike ride this Sunday will be held on the warmest day of the weekend, but it's still a good opportunity to get in a 7-mile ride to four Minneapolis breweries. $5.

Fresh openings from the job board

💼 New job, new me. Check out the latest job openings.

  1. Director, Marketing Operations at EPAM.
  2. Senior Director, Brand Strategy at ICF.
  3. Azure Database Admin Associate Manager at Accenture.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

4. Your vaccine mandate questions, answered

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

We're five days from vaccine-or-test mandates going into affect in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Here are answers to some of your questions on the orders:

Q: Alex asked whether "fully vaccinated" means having all three shots (or two if J&J + booster).

A: No. The orders state that fully vaccinated means two weeks after completing a full series, but does not require a booster shot.

Q: Leslie asked whether the orders cover banquets at hotels and weddings.

A: Yes, this applies to them. Steve Hark, who owns several event centers in Minneapolis, told Nick that corporate clients are postponing events because the mandate is too difficult for them to enforce.

But couples, Hark said, are sticking with their wedding plans. "A lot of the couples were already asking their guests to be vaccinated to attend or take the COVID test."

Q: WCCO Radio's Chad Hartman asked Mayor Jacob Frey why Minneapolis is requiring testing for kids age 2 to 5.

A: Frey said he'll remove that requirement.

5. The Spoon: Your Friday news feed

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

✈️ Customs officials at MSP Airport say they're seeing a rise in travelers trying to bring parts of monkeys and other bushmeat into Minnesota. (Star Tribune)

🏟 The COVID testing site at the Minneapolis Convention Center will move to U.S. Bank Stadium from Jan. 17-21. (Twitter)

🏢 Thomson Reuters is exploring options for its 263-acre Eagan campus because its new hybrid work model won't require all 1.3 million square feet of office space. (Star Tribune)

🥶 Minnesota is tied with Maine as the second coldest of the lower 48 states. (MinnPost)

🍝 Mucci is closing its Minneapolis restaurant on Jan. 29, but owner Tim Niver said the St. Paul location is still open, as is his other St. Paul restaurant, Saint Dinette. (Twitter)

👋 DFL Rep. Carlos Mariani of St. Paul is retiring after 16 terms. (Tracker)

6. Photo du jour: MLK and Humphrey

(L to R) Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minnesota), Sen. Philip A. Hart (D-Michigan), Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth celebrate as the Senate takes up the Civil Rights Bill in 1964. Photo: Bettman/Getty

Martin Luther King Jr. and Minnesota Sen. Hubert Humphrey celebrated back in March of 1964 when the U.S. Senate took up the Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination.

  • Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The annual Twin Cities MLK Day Holiday Breakfast will be virtual this year and keynoted by CNN's Laura Coates.

🍴 Audrey is going to the Art Shanties and dining at Petite Leon.

🛷 Nick is taking his daughter sledding, unless the baby arrives first.

🏀 Torey is coaching her last youth basketball game of the season. Her team hasn't won (yet) but the girls improved, and that's what matters!

Editor's note: Story 2 has been updated to reflect a revision from Ties Lounge & Rooftop operators about the timing of the restaurant's grand opening.