After sifting through nearly 10,000 comments submitted to the City of Minneapolis, staff members are scaling back the density they’re proposing in a new plan for city growth.
The revised Minneapolis 2040 draft includes the following changes.
Triplexes, not fourplexes
In the lowest-density Interior 1 zone, the city would begin allowing triplexes built to the same size as single-family homes.* This is a step down from the widespread fourplexes initially proposed.
“We really want to provide housing choice,” said Heather Worthington, the city’s director of long-range planning. “…It’s not a mandate, it’s an option.”
In some neighborhoods single-family homes are the only option, she said, which can be difficult to afford.
“People in the city were concerned about being able to stay in the city as they age,” she said.
Downsized transit corridors farther from city core
In some areas north of Lowry Avenue and south of 38th Street, a portion of thoroughfares like Nicollet and Chicago are reduced from six-story Corridor 6 to four-story Corridor 4 zones. Staff said they heard residents say six stories would be a major change in spots that are predominantly one or two stories today.
Downsized transition from busy streets into single-family neighborhoods
In areas located across an alley from a four-story Corridor 4 street, the city would allow buildings rising a maximum of two-and-a-half stories, called an Interior 2 zone. In the prior draft, the city would have allowed Interior 3, up to three stories.
Other areas that were downzoned in the draft include blocks south of Loring Park and blocks along the Kenilworth Corridor between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles, as well as 21st Street and Franklin Avenue running through the Kenwood and Lowry Hill neighborhoods.
Some areas of the city were modified to require more density, including the Core 50 zone in the downtown core, and the Transit 30 zone, located in neighborhoods near downtown, METRO stations and high-frequency transit routes. Minimum height guidelines in those areas are now 10 stories, an increase from eight stories suggested in the first draft.
Many areas proposed for high density would not see any changes in the second draft, including an area northwest of Bde Maka Ska near the future West Lake light rail station, where a stretch south of the Midtown Greenway would allow up to 30 stories.
Principal City Planner Paul Mogush said the new station would provide a 12-minute ride into downtown, a “tremendous opportunity” for locating housing near a transit station and the product of many previous planning efforts.
“Much of what we initially proposed is still relevant to the goals that the City Council set,” Worthington said.
Those goals include reduced racial disparities, affordable housing, more residents and more living wage jobs.
Regarding the Shoreland Overlay District, which currently requires developers to meet conditions to build above 2.5 stories near the water, Mogush said new language in the draft plan focuses on protecting water quality.
“There are ways to achieve density in development in areas that are adjacent to public waterways that will not negatively impact those public waterways,” Worthington said.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board sent a letter to the city in September saying the Shoreland Overlay has been an important tool with regard to the lake’s aesthetic and environmental quality. The Park Board said the city should aggressively regulate water quality improvements, and asked for a seat at the table during project reviews and during any future change to the shoreland ordinance.
The draft plan also recommends improving the city’s design quality standards, after staff heard many public concerns about design.
In addition, city staff added more detail on affordable housing strategies. Draft policy ideas include: Pursue inclusionary zoning so new projects include affordable housing. Require affordable housing projects to stay affordable for 30 years. Reduce property taxes and consider acquisitions to keep buildings affordable.
City staff said a team of people read all 10,000 comments, but they did not attempt to classify the types of comments received, citing the massive undertaking that would entail.
The group Neighbors for More Neighbors is encouraging people to show up at the Minneapolis 2040 public hearings to express support for adding homes.
The group Minneapolis For Everyone, meanwhile, held a press conference to say they feel their concerns have been ignored. The new draft contains meaningless tweaks “while remaining tone-deaf to what is really causing the discord they have sown in the community,” resident Lisa McDonald said in a statement.
The full City Council and City Planning Commission aim to vote on the plan by the end of the year. There will be public hearings before the commission Oct. 29 and council the week of Nov. 12. Residents can submit feedback to council members and at minneapolis2040.com/how-to-comment.
Then the Metropolitan Council — the agency that requires a city plan to handle population growth — will take up the draft. The Met Council can take a year to review the plan. After final adoption, the city would officially update the zoning code in the following years.
*Fourplexes are no longer under consideration for larger Interior 1 lots.