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Friday's Axios Twin Cities stories

Apr 9, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

How making a Twin Cities strip mall cool staved off a pandemic retail slump

The new Texa-Tonka Mall has a plaza for outdoor seating at Revival and Angle Food Bakery. Photo: Paster Properties

When you think of 1950s strip malls, cool isn't the first word to pop into your head.

But at Texa-Tonka in St. Louis Park, developer Paster Properties completely redesigned the aging mall and filled vacant spaces with hip tenants.

Apr 9, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

The Twin Cities' coming wedding boom

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

It's spring in Minnesota, and if you've got a lot of weddings on the books over the next six months, you're not alone.

The state of play: The 2021 wedding season will be the busiest in decades, according to The Knot, which found that 47% of couples who had planned to get married in 2020 are now getting married in 2021 or later.

Minnesota GOP to pick chair after drama-filled fight

It's Mark Koran vs. Jennifer Carnahan this weekend. Photos: Minnesota Legislature/Courtesy of Jennifer Carnahan

A bitter leadership fight comes to a head this weekend, as Minnesota Republican Party delegates pick their next chair.

Why it matters: The chair will lead fundraising and strategy heading into 2022, when the governorship, newly drawn congressional districts and all 201 state legislative seats will be on the ballot.

Apr 8, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

As Twins fans return, a sign of hope for downtown Minneapolis

People are coming back downtown for baseball. Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Twins, pending a possible rainout, are bringing 10,000 people to Target Field today, the first time a sizable crowd has been downtown for entertainment purposes in more than a year.

Big picture: That's not just important for the ballclub, it's important for the image of downtown, Minneapolis Downtown Council President Steve Cramer told Nick.

  • People have been sitting at home for a year. They saw images of downtown being looted back in August and have heard reports of crime in the center of the city.

Reality check: While violent crime is up overall in Minneapolis, it's declined in the two downtown City Council wards.

  • However, the city's homeless problem is more visible without all of the office employees and evening visitors.

What they're saying: "There's this image of a foreboding place," Cramer said. "And it's not that at all. I think people are going to feel, I hope, comfortable (being here)."

Yes, but: Downtown will be much different than people remember. Some of the popular pre-game bars, including Kieran's Irish Pub and The Depot, haven't re-opened.

  • Many businesses are boarded up in advance of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial on the other side of downtown.

Of note: The Twins have worked with the city of Minneapolis to secure preferred parking for the games in ramps A and B, which will allow wary fans to park steps from Target Field.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Minnesota Muslims rush to get pre-Ramadan COVID-19 vaccinations

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Mosques and community organizations are rushing to connect Minnesota Muslims with COVID-19 vaccine appointments before Ramadan begins next week.

Context: The monthlong observance, which starts April 12, involves extra prayer, spiritual reflection, acts of charity and fasting from dawn to dusk.

The issue: People are "chomping at the bit to get back into mosques" and pray in person after the pandemic disrupted services last year, Imam Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, told Torey.

  • "It's a race against time to get our people vaccinated before there are large congregations in the communities."

Another factor: Leaders and scholars say getting a vaccination wouldn't break the fast, which is one of the pillars of the faith, and MAS Minnesota links to the fatwa giving the green light for the shots in general. But the prospect of dealing with possible side effects from the shots while abstaining from food or drink is also a concern for some.

What's happening: Zaman lobbied the governor's office to secure 7,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in hopes of getting as many people as possible immune at the start of the holy month.

The results: In addition to driving up immunity in the community, the effort is making a difference in addressing vaccine hesitancy within the state's sizable Muslim population.

  • Ahead of the first clinic, Zaman had to convince people to sign up. Now, thanks to "social buzz," appointments are filling up fast.

What's next: Zaman thinks the strategy, along with public vaccination events featuring local religious leaders, could help address disparities in the shot rollout so far.

  • "Doing it in the mosque creates emotional comfort," he said. "People who are on the edge say … well it’s in the mosque, so I’ll check it out."
  • Zaman said he's asking for even more shots given the high demand.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.