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Newsletter #39 September - November, 1997

Award News

        The Philip K. Dick Award was mis-identified last issue as The Time Machines by Stephen Baxter. The winner was in fact The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter ($5.99), a highly recommended sequel to The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.
        The nominees for the 1997 Mythopoeic Awards in the Adult Literature category are One For the Morning Glory by John Barnes ($5.99), Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip ($5.99), Fair Peril by Nancy Springer ($5.99), The Wood Wife by Terri Windling ($6.99), and The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe (apparently referring to the 4-book series Nightside the Long Sun, Lake of the Long Sun, Caldé of the Long Sun ($6.99), and Exodus from the Long Sun ($6.99)).
        The Macavity Award Nominees for Best Mystery Novel (first published in 1996) are Multiple Wounds by Alan Russell ($22.00), The Chatham School Affair by Thomas Cook ($22.95), Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich ($5.50), Grass Widow by Teri Holbrook ($5.50), Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence ($23.00), and Bloodhounds by Peter Lovesey ($5.99). Nominees for Best First Mystery are Final Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein ($5.99), Death in Little Tokyo by Dale Furutani ($21.95, pb at $5.99 due early September), Murder on a Girl's Night Out by Anne George ($5.99), and A Brother's Blood by Michael White ($22.50). Nominees for Best Non-Fiction are Detecting Women 2 by Willetta Heising ($24.95), Mystery! A Celebration by Ron Miller ($24.95), and St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery, 4th Edition edited by Jay Pederson.
        The Lambda Awards for Best Lesbian Mystery went to Robber's Wine by Ellen Hart ($21.95) and for Best Gay Mystery went to The Death of Friends by Michael Nava ($22.95).

Business Update

        The UPS strike only produced two big problems. First, Stephen King's Dark Tower 4: Wizard and Glass ($45) in the Donald Grant hardcover was supposed to be shipping to arrive around August 15, but is still stuck at the bindery until the strike ends. Second, Ace/Berkley/Jove/Putnam/ DAW/Roc/NAL/Penguin/etc. decided that rather than try to find an alternate carrier for their books, they would simply cancel any orders below a certain size for the duration of the strike--and tell retailers to depend upon wholesalers to get new releases. (The wholesalers order in such large quantities from major publishers that their shipment usually come by pallet loads via major trucking lines instead of a few boxes via UPS, so wholesalers are receiving most new releases like normal.) This works fine for most paperbacks, because most wholesalers pick up most of the new paperback releases. But wholesalers get a lot more picky about hardcovers. The local wholesaler didn't bother to order the new Marion Zimmer Bradley Darkover novel (plus several other hardcover titles we've had less demand for), and it might take 3 or 4 weeks after the strike to fill in all the missing titles.
        TSR is finally shipping books again. A few days before we went to press, we received three new novels. One of the new novels had been announced for last December. As soon as TSR's release schedule gets more dependable, we'll resume listing their books as "forthcoming" rather than "already received".

Neighborhood Update
by Don Blyly

        A few days before this newsletter went to the printer, Ray Harris gave his first public presentation on the plans he and his partners have for the Sears site. They have a binding purchase agreement with Sears, and if they don't find any unexpected surprises the closing will be before the end of the year. They now have a swarm of contractors looking for unexpected surprises and drawing up plans and cost estimates for all the work that needs to be done once they own the property.
        The Sears complex is the largest building in Minneapolis, with 1.9 million square feet of space--larger than the IDS Tower. This is the equivalent of all the commercial space on both sides of Lake Street for the two mile stretch between Chicago Avenue and the Uptown area. Just the first floor of the original Sears building has about the same square footage as the entire Calhoun Square development. Harris and his partners believe that the site will provide 3500-4000 new jobs when fully rented.
        Their plans call for using the first floor of the original building for retail (with one major tenant of about 50,000 square feet, about 30,000 square feet of restaurants, and the rest for assorted smaller retailers), most of the second and third floors for government offices and adult education, and most of the rest of the existing complex will be used for light industrial and office space. They also intend to build a new, two story retail and entertainment complex with a multi-screen theater (connected by skyway to the main building) directly across the street from the Uncles. In the middle of the current parking lot along Chicago Avenue, they plan to put in a "Transit Hub" so that all the buses that currently stop at Chicago-Lake will instead stop at the Transit Hub to drop people right in front of the Sears complex. There will be a lot of pedestrian "hard space" around the transit hub, to allow for things like outdoor concerts or art fairs. These two new constructions will wipe out all of the existing parking spaces along the Chicago Avenue portion of the lot, but the demolition of the former auto center just north of the tracks will provide some additional spaces--but certainly not enough.
        Parking is a very interesting issue. Zoning standards would require 6000 parking spaces for the proposed uses that the Harris group has described. But large projects almost always get a variance to reduce this number. Partly, this is because the mixed uses require parking at different times--the office space primarily needs parking during the day Monday through Friday, while the theater complex primarily needs parking in the evening and on weekends, so the same parking spaces can serve the needs of both the offices and the theaters, reducing the total number of spaces needed. Some people will use the bus rather than cars --but how many? For the entire metro area, about 2% of people ride the bus, but in downtown Minneapolis around 40% ride the bus to work, and at the IDS tower 70% ride the bus to work. (And some people will use bikes--the Midtown Greenway, a bike path that will run east-west from the Mississipi River to the lakes on the western side of Minneapolis and will connect with the north-south bike paths into downtown, runs right through the Sears site.) The number of parking spaces you think will be needed will vary a lot depending on your assumptions about how people are going to come to the site.
         The Harris proposal shows over 4100 parking spaces, most in two new parking ramps. The larger one would be a seven-level ramp on the east side of the current complex, connected by a skyway. The smaller one would be a four-level ramp covering the block that now contains the auto center, would connect to the new theater complex, and would have small retailers and offices along Chicago Avenue between the theater complex and the hospital. Harris said that he would like to get permission from the city to build only the larger ramp at first, see how many parking spaces are really needed, and then add the parking ramp near the theater complex only if the spaces are really needed.
        Why wait to build the second ramp? Parking ramps are very expensive (around $23,000,000 for the larger of the two ramps Harris proposes), and if the ramp is to pay for it's full cost, parking becomes very expensive. Harris says a parking ramp has to generate $125 to $150 per space per month in rent to pay for itself--so he wants help from the city to bring down the cost of parking to a low rate that won't scare potential customers away. He hopes that he can get enough help from the city to get the cost of parking down to the range of $1 per day to free, but it might take a few months to find out what he can get from the city.
        When would things start happening? Assuming the closing takes place mid-December, it will take until mid-1998 to deal with hazardous material cleanup. (There was a frozen pipe that burst and flooded much of the building, destroying all the elevator motors and washing lots of asbestos insulation out from behind walls--cleanup will probably run around $3,000,000!) New tenants that will be doing light industrial will probably start moving in during the summer of 1998, offices will start renting before the end of 1998, and retailers will probably start opening in the summer of 1999.
        
        Getting around the area by car has been interesting lately, but could have been much worse. The first major thunderstorm of July burst a storm sewer deep under Lake Street 2 blocks east of Chicago, and the storm water started washing away the sand in the area. After the second major thunderstorm, the street started to sag. When the city workers peeled back the sagging pavement, they found a sinkhole 25 feet wide, 18 feet deep, with a major natural gas pipeline hanging across the pit. Fortunately, there was a nearby bus stop, which caused buses to travel around the rim of the pit instead of directly over it. A fully-packed rushhour bus could probably have gone over, and then through, the weak spot in the pavement, burst the natural gas pipeline on the way down, and got Minneapolis on the national news. Fortunately, that did not happen--but eastbound Lake Street was detoured for about 3 weeks while repairs were made.
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