City, Park Board approve green space requirements for new developments

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November 15, 2013
By: Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

Starting Jan. 1, new developments in the city of Minneapolis will be required to include a set amount of green space or pay a fee to the Park Board for future land acquisition.

Minneapolis has lobbied for the authority to institute a parkland dedication ordinance at the state legislature for years. Parkland dedication ordinances are widely used in suburban communities and St. Paul enacted one in 2007. After years of negotiation and tweaking, the Minneapolis Park Board approved the final ordinance at its Nov. 6 meeting after the City Council passed it in July.

Under the ordinance, new projects downtown will be required to provide .0066 acres (288 square feet) of green space for every residential unit. Outside of downtown that number grows to .01 acres, or 436 square feet per residential unit.

Commercial projects will be required to provide 100 square feet of green space for each employee at new developments. In both cases, the maximum amount of green space required is capped at 10 percent of the total area being developed. In the case of redevelopment, only additional units or employees added to the site from its previous use will be counted, and affordable housing units are exempt from the green space requirements.

“This is a very monumental thing we’re doing here. It’s taken quite a few years and it’s great to be in sync with the city…this will have a tremendous impact on the city,” said Commissioner Scott Vreeland (Dist. 3).

If a residential development cannot provide the required amount of green space, the property owner will be charged $1,500 per housing unit. Commercial properties will have to pay the city assessor’s per square foot value of the property multiplied by the number of square feet of green space the property should have provided. All money collected through these means will go into a special fund dedicated toward Park Board land acquisition.

“I don’t think we should have an obligation to provide green space, I think we should do it because it’s the right thing to do and if the market demands it,” said Owen Metz, a developer with Dominium. “At that math, an acre [of green space] per every 100 apartments seems really, really steep.” Metz added that St. Paul’s parkland dedication ordinance cost Dominium $20,000-$30,000 in the Schmidt Artist Lofts project.