About Towerside

Towerside is a 370-acre district at the heart of the Twin Cities’ 3.5-million-person metro area. The Innovation District extends from the University of Minnesota on the west to the Creative Enterprise Zone on the east spanning two cities and two counties.

The community-born vision for this district called for capitalizing on its incredibly rich concentration of assets – the University of Minnesota, its medical and research complex, three Green Line LRT stations, two thriving neighborhoods – by creating a high-intensity, high density mix of places and spaces where working, living and innovation come together in an equitable, diverse and sustainable community.

Seeking to become a new replicable model of urban redevelopment rooted in district-wide systems for energy, stormwater management, parking, and connected public realm, the Towerside Innovation District was formed to enable community stakeholders and facilitate the vision. As a community and economic development framework Towerside includes a wide array of partners such as higher education institutions, landowners, businesses, government, nonprofit organizations, and neighborhood groups. Towerside creates framework guidelines, finds early capital to support the district-wide infrastructure systems and advances this vision with potential investors, developers and the neighborhoods.

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Board of Directors

Towerside Innovation District is governed by it's volunteer board of directors and supported by its diverse partner organizations. Towerside’s strength and potential rely on public-private coordinated partnerships. This structure aligns leadership, improves cross-sector collaboration, and builds new models of inclusive governance to drive effective planning and project delivery.

Michael Berthelsen

Michael Berthelsen

Metric Giles

Metric Giles

Richard Gilyard

Richard Gilyard

Karen Nelson

Karen Nelson

Vince Netz

Vince Netz

Karl Reichert

Karl Reichert

Catherine Reid Day

Catherine Reid Day

Diane Rucker

Diane Rucker

Virajita Singh

Virajita Singh

Bob Straughn

Bob Straughn

Michael Berthelsen

Mike Berthelsen is the Vice President for University Services and has had a broad career for over 28 years at the University of Minnesota. University Services (1,952 FTE, plus over 800 student employees and nearly $400M annual operating budget in FY21 and an average capital spend of $260M) includes: Facilities Management, Capital Project Management, Planning/Space/Real Estate, Housing, Dining, Parking, Bookstores, U Market Services. Mike also has served as Associate Vice President for Facilities, CFO for University Services and Budget Officer at the University of Minnesota. Mike earned his Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a BA from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.

Metric Giles

Metric is a policy coordinator with the Community Stabilization Project in Saint Paul, which advocates for tenants’ rights. He serves or has served in active roles with the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, the Summit-University Planning Council and the Aurora-St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Jordan Park School, the Dispute Resolution Center, the Circle of Peace anti-violence initiative and St. Paul Almanac. He also served on the Metropolitan Council’s Central Corridor Community Advisory Committee, working with community members and civic groups to include additional stations along the Green Line light rail corridor.

Richard Gilyard

Dick is a practicing/consulting architect who has served as senior designer and principal in charge of design for a broad range of clients, building types and urban planning challenges. Dick is president of Prospect Park 2020, Inc., a 501-(c3) community development corporation, and a board member of the Prospect Park Association and the University District Alliance established by the Legislature to address planning and development issues unique to the University community. He has served on the advisory board of the Metropolitan Design Center in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and currently co-chairs the facilities committee at the Textile Center.

Karen Nelson

Karen resides in the Saint Paul portion of Towerside and serves on St Anthony Park Community Council’s Board of Directors, co-char’s the Land Use Committee and is active in the Transportation Committee. She is concerned about improving land use efficiency, increasing mixed-use zoning for industrial areas, housing supply, affordable housing, and improving pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure for all ages. Karen is a civil engineer working for Versa-Lok Retaining walls where she enjoys seeing civil plans for projects going out to bid across the nation.

Vince Netz

Vince is Treasurer of the Towerside Innovation District. His background is in medical information technology, with over 20 years experience in cross-functional leadership roles at Medtronic, Inc. and Fairview/University Medical Center. He is currently principal of Northriver Solutions LLC, a technology consultancy focused on nonprofits and small businesses. He also serves on several area boards and commissions, including the Towerside Business Alliance, University District Alliance, and TCF Bank Stadium.

Karl Reichert

Karl is Executive Director for Textile Center, a national center for fiber art based in the heart of the Towerside Innovation District in Minneapolis. Since November 2014, Karl has led Textile Center into an era of revitalization and artistic advancement. Previously he served as the Director of the Capri Theater for Plymouth Christian Youth Center in North Minneapolis (2007-2014), and he began his arts career with the Minnesota Orchestra, where he served as its Director of Public Affairs from (1992 to 2001), and then worked as an arts marketing and public relations consultant from 2001 to 2007.

Catherine Reid Day

Catherine is the Founder of Storyslices LLC, a communications and leadership development company that uses the power of stories to make productive transitions and improve performance. She is co-founder and board chair of the Creative Enterprise Zone which focuses on community-driven development and is located mid-city between St Paul and Minneapolis. It’s a recognized center of creativity and enterprise, a place where people make a living by their creative capacities. She worked for PRI and developed programs including ‘Marketplace’ and ‘The World.’ She co-produced the public television series ‘Mental Engineering’ and served as VP for Macalester, Carleton Colleges and the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Diane Rucker

Diane is the Executive Director of University Enterprise Labs, an incubator for early-stage startups. She has held leadership roles in innovation, design, product management, operations, and technology transfer. Her experience includes a collaboration with MIT’s Center for Entrepreneurship and regional ecosystem work in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Diane has an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management, an M.S. in Materials Science from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Materials Engineering from MIT. She also served as the VP of Client Services for Carrot Health and held senior positions with Seagate and General Motors.

Varajita Singh

Virajita is Assistant Vice Provost at University of Minnesota’s Office of Equity and Diversity. She is also a Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota, leading CSBR’s sustainable Design for Community Resilience program that engages graduate design students to assist Minnesota communities interested in taking sustainable and regenerative design action. She is a LEED AP and Adjunct Faculty in the College of Design. She is also a Board Member of the arts non-profit COMPAS, and volunteers at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Bob Straughn

Bob is a commercial real estate attorney practicing with McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb, Chartered. His experience has included legal work with major office and retail projects in the Twin Cities and hospital and healthcare projects throughout the country. He also has professional experience as a civil and environmental engineer. He has held leadership positions with a variety of community and charitable organizations, and currently serves as a vice-chancellor in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.

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Partners + Stakeholders

Towerside is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed as an intentional partnership of non-profit and government agencies, higher education, community residents, businesses, and developers.

  • Aeon
  • Blue Cross and BlueShield of Minnesota
  • CenterPoint Energy
  • Central Funders Collaborative
  • City of Minneapolis
  • City of Saint Paul
  • The Cornerstone Group
  • Creative Enterprise Zone
  • Dorsey & Whitney LLP
  • Ever-Green Energy
  • Family Housing Fund
  • Greater MSP
  • Hennepin County
  • McKnight Foundation
  • Metropolitan Design Center
  • Minneapolis Public Housing
  • Authority
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
  • Mississippi Watershed
  • Management Organization
  • Prospect Park 2020
  • Prospect Park Association
  • Prospect Park Properties
  • Ramsey County
  • Surly Brewing
  • St. Anthony Park
  • Community Council
  • Trust for Public Land
  • Twin Cities Community Land Bank
  • ULI Minnesota
  • University Enterprise Laboratories
  • University of Minnesota Foundation Real Estate Advisors
  • United Properties
  • The Wall Companies
  • Xcel Energy

A Place Like No Other

Towerside is a city-within-the-Twin Cities. Its chief assets—as the old real estate joke goes—are location, location, location. The Innovation District, situated at the hub of all Twin Cities transportation networks, is also a stone’s throw from both a renowned research university—home to 19 Nobel Prize winners in science and economics through the years—and a major medical school. It’s located at the heart of an economically and culturally dynamic metropolitan area that punches above its weight in the global arena. No other place enjoys similar advantages.

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