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Skyways: Use Skyways to Connect Buildings Downtown

Skyway at Gaviidae Commons
Skyway above Nicollet Mall

Downtown skyways have been the source of debate for decades. They are beloved in extreme and inclement weather for their seamless indoor connections and are the focus of ire for their lack of navigability, their inaccessibility from the street, and their impact to street level vibrancy. Access to the skyways can be improved through improved connection points to the street, specifically at primary transit and pedestrian routes. Navigability can be improved through designs that provide transparency to the street to improve orientation with the streets. Tying skyway business activity street level business activity and limiting skyway expansion can help create opportunity to improve street level vibrancy.


The City will seek to accomplish the following action steps to use Skyways to Connect Buildings Downtown

  1. Direct newly-established retail uses in buildings connected by skyways to be located primarily on the ground floor with an entrance facing the street.
  2. Require maximum transparency of skyway walls in order to provide views to the outside that help users orient themselves.
  3. Maintain uniform skyway hours of operation.
  4. Provide consistent and uniform directional signage and accessible skyway system maps near skyway entrances, particularly along primary transit and pedestrian routes.
  5. Provide convenient and easily accessible vertical connections between the skyway system and the public sidewalks, particularly along primary transit and pedestrian routes.
  6. Maintain functional links in the skyway system while adjoining properties undergo redevelopment or renovation.
  7. Limit skyway expansion to the downtown core and at other key sites with high-intensity uses in order to minimize low-usage skyways and maximize street-level pedestrian activity in growing downtown neighborhoods and historic areas.
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