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Aldi Abandons North Minneapolis

Plus trains to Duluth debated, Edina praised, and the most basic music industry story you can imagine in today's Flyover.

3:32 PM CST on February 6, 2023

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Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Aldi Closure Leaves North with Few Grocery Options

Stressful news for North Siders: Aldi is permanently closing its north Minneapolis grocery store, and soon—5 p.m. on February 12. The news, initially posted in the Facebook group "Bringing Back the Northside," was shared on Twitter by Eric Moran (who we talked to last year about the plan to turn Victory Memorial into a roller rink). "Earlier this week I complained about North being a pharmacy desert, we are moving back towards grocery desert as well," Moran noted. He adds that the closure "leav[es] one larger-than-bodega size store in North (besides Cub)," meaning that yes, there's just "one medium and one large grocery for 70K people." We reached out to Aldi corporate to try and get some context around the closure—were sales down? Is it a staffing issue? What's going on here? Here’s what a spokesperson had to say:

ALDI has made the difficult decision to close our store at 3120 Penn Avenue N. in Minneapolis due to the inability to renovate the store to accommodate our larger product range and our current lease term expiring. We will continue to proudly serve the residents of Minneapolis at our other area stores, including our store at 5620 Broadway Avenue, just a few miles from this location, as well as five other ALDI stores within a 15-minute drive of this location. We thank our customers for their years of loyalty at this location and look forward to seeing them in nearby stores soon.”

Hell Yes! A Rail Line Between Minneapolis and Duluth Could Happen.

Who wants to take a road trip without the road? We do. If the DFL-run state legislature gets its way, we’ll be able to do just that on the Northern Lights Express, a high-speed passenger rail that would take peeps from Minneapolis to Duluth, with stops along the way in Coon Rapids, Cambridge, and Hinckley. (Fun fact: Hinckley is a solid casino and concert town.) While folks in Minnesota have been burned many times by transportation pipe dreams, this proposal could actually get off the ground in the coming years. First, the Federal Railroad Administration already approved the plan in 2018 after an environmental review. Second, if we fund it, it would be eligible for an 80% federal matching grant. According to this MPR News piece, if the state allocates $99 million, it will unlock over $300 million in federal funding. “We know that this federal money is going to go to projects across the country, so we say let’s bring it here,” Sen. Jennifer McEwen (DFL-Duluth) reasoned during a recent meeting. Advocates are excited at the prospect of bringing in that sweet, sweet tourism dollar. Republicans aren’t feeling it, however, citing reliability and potential low ridership as reasons this might be a bum investment.

Buttigieg: Edina Is “Not the Smallest” City in America

Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have reached their highest levels since the early ’80s, and they're a danger that’s seriously under-discussed. So it’s good that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is dispersing $5 billion in federal grant money for cities to improve pedestrian safety, and that he’s publicizing the issue generally, stating that pedestrian fatalities are a public safety comparable to deaths from gun violence. This is important work that we would not joke about.

But. Appearing on the PBS NewsHour, Buttigieg praised four cities in the U.S. that did not have any pedestrian deaths in 2022: Jersey City and Hoboken in New Jersey; Evanston, Illinois; and… Edina, Minnesota. As Buttigieg put it, “They're not the biggest cities in America, but they're not the smallest either.” (The one-woman town of Monowi, Nebraska, is the smallest municipality in the U.S., according to this sweet NYT profile; Edina has roughly 53,317 more residents than Monowi.) Seems worth mentioning that one reason Edina has so few pedestrian deaths, however, is that it’s essentially unwalkable and, therefore, unwalked. If we’re going to learn how to make cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul safer for pedestrians, Edina is not going to be much help. (Alternate plan: Ask the pedestrians what they need.)

‘CCO Asks: Where Do Concerts Come From? 

WCCO has a long-running series called Good Question. Tellingly, last night’s post-Grammy Awards segment—"From Beyoncé to Taylor Swift, how does Minnesota pull in the biggest musical acts?"—was filed elsewhere on the website. As a thinking person, you might intuit that, as the nation’s 16th largest metropolitan area, the Twin Cities metro, with its arenas, stadiums, and ballparks, is an obvious draw for international touring artists whose fortunes hinge on filling arenas, stadiums, and ballparks in populous areas. That’s more or less the thrust of Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield’s four-minute segment that explains the relationship between bookers, promoters, labels, and artists as if viewers were tiny children. "The Twin Cities get the big shows, and they are greeted with big enthusiasm," she says. "Because Minnesotans love their melodies.”

So begins the tedious journey that stops first, for some reason, at Electric Fetus, where a demographic that’s predisposed to liking music (music buyers) explain why they like music. Littlefield then informs viewers that "there's another preferred way to consume music, too.” That’s right: Concerts, the things that are different from recorded music, in that they’re live. The piece implants a bit of paranoia—aren’t we just… flyover land?—that’s assuaged by U.S. Bank Stadium’s assistant GM/booker, Anne Dunne. "We have Taylor Swift coming... you've been doing some booking,” Littlefield states to the person responsible for booking U.S. Bank Stadium. (Dunne is not pressed about the horseshit acoustics of her particular venue.) “The amount [of tickets that artists] can sell depends on the venue they choose,” Littlefield explains. Event attendees in event venue... hm, makes sense. Intelligence not sufficiently belittled? Check out this graph. I had to:

It really just keeps on going like this. Provided you’re masochists like us, stick around for the outro kicker.   

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