Veterans of war and urban planning say you should always suspect incompetence ahead of conspiracy as a reason for the otherwise inexplicable. And so we won't assume that when Minneapolis plunked a Kmart smack in the middle of the Lake-Nicollet intersection, it wasn't consciously trying to fortify the thin red line of Lake Street against the dark-skinned masses encroaching from the south. We'll just say it was stupid. And we'll applaud the decision, more than 20 years later, to reopen the connection between the city's main north-south artery and its east-west thoroughfare. If all goes well, says 6th Ward City Council member Jim Niland, you should be able to turn left and right from Lake onto Nicollet after the millennium. And when you do, you'll discover the vibrant little commercial district that the businesses who stuck it out--from the bratwurst-and-weissbier veterans at the Black Forest to the recently relocated Rainbow Chinese Restaurant--have created in the shadow of the Blue-Light Special.


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