Dinkytown businesses seeing ‘decrease’ in foot traffic after streets closed to deter crime

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It’s the second weekend of Dinkytown road closures meant to combat a recent spike in crime in the area and business owners say the barriers are slowing down foot traffic.
Al’s Breakfast is a Dinkytown staple. People in the area have been starting their day with the restaurant for decades.

“People generally stand in line out here for quite a while before coming in to eat on Saturday morning,” Alison Kirwin, Al’s Breakfast owner, said.

Kirwin said lately those lines have been shorter than normal.

“We were off a little bit as far as our sales went both this weekend and last weekend, but not in as big of a way as I thought we would see,” Kirwin said.

She said the concrete barriers are to blame.

At the end of July, the city of Minneapolis shut down parts of 5th Street and 14th Avenue SE to car traffic.

The Dinkytown barricades are a part of a pilot project. The barriers are put in place Thursday afternoons until Sunday mornings with an end date of Aug. 14.

The goal is to cut down on crime that’s been ramping up in Dinkytown. 

“I think that there’s got to be other ways to deal with this because shutting off parts of the city rather than policing them doesn’t seem to be an effective way to go about it,” Kirwin said.

Businesses told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS food delivery drivers are also running into issues picking up food for customers when the street is blocked off.

“Along 14th Avenue, we have certainly seen a decrease in business,” Chris Lautenschlager, Executive Director of the Dinkytown Business Alliance, said.

Lautenschlager said blocking parking spots on 14th Avenue when parking is already hard to come by drives away customers.

“We would prefer that there be some sort of barricades installed late at night when the major issues are happening at 11, at midnight or at bar close,” he said.

Kirwin agrees the recent wave of Dinkytown crime is a problem, but she said the current solution is doing small businesses more harm than good.

“I think they need to take everybody into account, not just the people who are coming here, but the people who have to survive here to,” Kirwin said.

At the end of the three-week pilot project, Minneapolis police and University of Minnesota partners will take a look at the impact the barriers are having on the area and the community. Then, they’ll decide next steps based on the findings.