Many Downtown property owners maintain a low profile and rely on other advocacy groups to fight their causes. One of the key groups is the Greater Minneapolis Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). The organization has represented real estate owners since 1904 and has more than 500 members.
BOMA's members own an estimated 60 million square feet of office space in the city and nearby suburbs.
Here's a snapshot of some major issues that have topped BOMA's agenda in recent years:
- Real estate taxes: BOMA worked with a local property tax reform coalition to aggressively push for reduced commercial property taxes. In 2001, the State Legislature enacted legislation reducing commercial property taxes. Also, businesses would have even lower property-tax rates for spending approved by local referendum;
- Security: BOMA worked with Northeast Minneapolis-based RSP Architects and the Minneapolis Police and Fire departments to develop the "i-SITE" program, an emergency response plan that allows emergency responders to access building floor plans with GIS software;
- Transportation: The advocacy group has served on several study groups and steering committees weighing in on transportation projects, including the Downtown Minneapolis Transportation Management Organization. Kent Warden, executive director of BOMA, said the organization recently testified in support of the proposed Northstar Corridor commuter rail line at the State Legislature. The passenger train would link Downtown with Big Lake, about 40 miles north of Minneapolis.
BOMA representatives served on a steering committee that determined 5th Street would be the best route for the Hiawatha light-rail transit line Downtown. The organization also continues to push for the Downtown Circulator - a bus that would circulate on Nicollet Mall, transporting LRT passengers for free.
- Assessor data: The organization pushed for a legislative amendment that keeps building financial and lease data private for 10 years - lengthened from an earlier three-year confidentiality limit;
- Permit fees: BOMA advocated on behalf of Downtown property owners in opposing a proposal to assess high permit fees for construction projects that encroach into the public right of way; and
- Codes: The advocacy group has monitored changes in codes and regulations at the state and local level, weighing in on recent chances to the Minneapolis zoning code.
Warden said BOMA pushed city officials to revise the zoning code to allow for higher-density development on the eastern edge of the Central Business District. The city's Planning Department later developed the Downtown East/North Loop Master Plan, which was adopted by the Minneapolis City Council in 2003.
The master plan provides a development framework for underdeveloped parcels in Downtown East, Elliot Park and areas near light-rail transit stations. The plan also envisions a transit hub in the Warehouse District west of the Target Center that would link the Hiawatha LRT line with the proposed Northstar Corridor and other possible rail projects, such as a high-speed, Minneapolis-Chicago Amtrak line.