Combating Anti-Development Hysteria Hysteria

For the first time since the 1950s, Minneapolis’ population is growing. And the streets run red with hyperbole.

  • In one corner we have people who, for various reasons, are unhappy with certain or all planned or existing developments that accommodate this growth. This is not a monolithic group.
  • In the other corner we have people who, for lack of a better word, call themselves urbanists, and generally support new development. I’m in this group, and like Team 1, it is not a monolithic group.

I can’t really speak directly to Team 1. In the same way I apparently only know like two Republicans, I really don’t know many of the people who show up to public meetings and complain, sometimes very theatrically, about the destruction being visited upon their neighborhoods by the redevelopment of surface parking lots and dilapidated rooming houses. But since I am on Team 2, I hear lots of complaints, some very theatrical, about the “NIMBYs” who are single-handedly keeping Minneapolis from blossoming into Amsterdam. This hysteria about hysteria holds that projects are shot down left and right by overzealous neighborhood organizations and other people who show up at City Hall with custom-made buttons to oppose new development.

The problem with this counter-hysteria is that it is incorrect. In the past several years, there have been a handful of projects that haven’t made it among the tens that have. Tracking development projects in the Twin Cities is a hobby of mine, and I can think of three otherwise viable projects that didn’t make it–Linden Corner, 24th and Colfax, and the Dinkytown Hotel. At least one of those will certainly be built in some form in the near future. Aside from those three, there have been thousands of new units built, and billions of dollars in private sector investment. Have you biked the Midtown Greenway since 2010? A handy press release from the City notes that 8,451 new housing units have been permitted since 2010. If we assume 1.5 people live in each of them and pretend that that population growth by itself is a city, it’d be more populous than 26 Minnesota counties.

Like most businesses, real estate and development are risky. Having to spend three to six months going to some meetings is not the end of the world. In fact, you could probably argue that it’s a good thing–the recent Opus Dinkytown project got demonstrably better after the wrangling there. Many businesses have processes that are sort of like this, they just don’t end up in the paper. In the same way that a farmer can’t just slap an “organic” sticker on a crate of apples, it’s reasonable to expect developers to build projects to some standard. I don’t know exactly what that is, but anyone who’s been to the United States since the 1940s knows that building things well hasn’t been a foregone conclusion for a long time. I’m happy (grateful sounds weird?) that developers are eager to build here, but let’s be real: They’re following the money. This is where demand is.

There are people who show up to public meetings and will never, ever support any change. There are those who call their City Councilmember and demand that no one new ever move into their neighborhood…and they’re wrong.

But, let’s put everything into perspective here. I spent the first seventeen and five-sixth years of my life in a military family, moving every few years and desperately wanting a place to call home. I was lucky enough (and it was absolutely luck of the draw) to end up in St. Louis Park from 2003 to 2006, which led me back here for college. Conversely, there are lots and lots of people who show up at these public meetings who have lived in the same house for forty years. Or they have mortgages with twenty years left on them. Many of these people stuck around the city through good times and bad, they didn’t show up when it got fashionable sometime towards the end of the Bush administration. I showed up more recently. As a renter, it’s very easy for me to say, well, Lake and Hennepin is lousy with Kardashians now, so let’s go hangout at Lake and Lyndale instead.

To be honest, when I think about my friends who are really into urbanism and Minneapolis development, almost none of them grew up here. Out of that group, I can think of one person who was born and raised in Minneapolis. The rest of us are transplants, who grew up in the suburbs, outstate Minnesota, or elsewhere. We came to Minneapolis for one reason or another and found that this was the kind of place we want to stick around. It’s a really nice town, crappy Uptown-Downtown bus service excluded.

The value of an opinion shouldn’t be based on how long you’ve had it–the opposite is probably true–but if we’re going to change minds among the people whose minds are changeable, we have to consider messaging and how we’re presenting ourselves. We love Minneapolis. We want more of it. We can sit through some meetings to get it.


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71 Responses to Combating Anti-Development Hysteria Hysteria

  1. Nick Magrino
    Nick Magrino March 17, 2014 at 1:41 am #

    Disclaimer: I’m pro-hysteria when it comes to transit.

  2. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke March 17, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    That last point is a good one. Sitting through meetings is the key to change. You’d be surprised at what you can (be seen pretending to) do by simply showing up.

  3. Matt Steele March 17, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    I’m curious what factors led to Minneapolitans a century ago viewing change as an opportunity, whereas many Minneapolitans in our present day view change as a liability.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino March 17, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      It’s hard to compare. A century ago there were still marshes along Minnehaha Creek and the economics of density worked a lot differently, what without the cars and all. I wouldn’t chalk it up to any particular can-do spirit.

  4. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell March 17, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    So many good points in this post. I tend to somewhat quickly tune out hyperbole, and thus the speaker, once they cross over from facts, reasoned analysis, and reasoned opinion, whether I agree with them or not. The line between hyperbole and lying is thin and who wants to believe someone who is willing to lie? I say ‘somewhat quickly’ because I also know from my own experience how so very easy it can be to lapse in to hyperbole to make a point.

    BTW, you were indeed lucky to land where you did, so close to St Paul. :-) Hopefully while voting for streets.mn as best local blog, you also properly voted for The Muddy Pig, Happy Gnome, and Cheeky Monkey.

  5. Matt Steele March 17, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    Maybe we don’t need to combat these anti-development folks; we need to combat their fears and change them to hope.

  6. Morgan March 17, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Excellent post.

    Two thoughts that I have:

    1) With regards to the three developments that you mention, two required demolition of “maybe” historic buildings. Demolitions are and should always be controversial. They are the equivalent of the death penalty. Demolished buildings can never be brought back just like dead people can not be brought back to life. The standard applied to demolition should be very, very high.

    2) With regard to the Team 1 and Team 2 conflict. If it is being fought out now in the court of public opinion, maybe it’s because it hasn’t been fought out yet and it just needs to happen.

    I am not from here but I probably fall into Team 1. I am from a military family too that eventually settled in the Washington, DC area where I attended high school and lived for five years after college. People used to complain about historic preservation 15 years ago (almost all housing in a mile radius from downtown is located in an historic district) but not really anymore. It has helped to add a lot of value to real estate, hone the city’s competitive position compared to other jurisdictions, opened up other areas of the city to substantial investment so now Washington, DC feels more like a Northeastern metropolis and less like a southern town, and still allowed for significant mixed use development on commercial corridors. Minneapolis is not DC in a lot of ways but we do have good jobs, good schools, good amenities, and a region with a growing population.

    My theory is that in the East and the South, two very culturally different places that both value culture, history, and heritage, have already been through this conflict and come out on the other side of it. Here is Minnesota, while we like history and are prideful of it, the dominant culture is practical, resourceful, modest, and has a strong familiarity with micro-economics and near perfect market systems (think farming). This dominant paradigm will find saving 24th and Colfax, initiating a conservation district, or using a regulatory mechanism to preserve vacant homes in Phillips, poor economics and a poor use of resources.

    But at the end of the day, it’s culture that we are talking about. A culture that can decide to value near perfect market systems a lot, a little, or not at all. Culture is emotional and often very messy. I guess that’s where we are at.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell March 17, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Morgan, good points. Interestingly though, the Scandahoovians who I think gave Minnesota this practical, resourceful, modest, micro-economics culture, are also fairly extreme with preservation. They won’t tear down anything. They’ll move their parents house or cabin to their own property to preserve it.

      • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

        You mean in Scandinavia or in the U.S.? The value of historic preservation has certainly had to be learned in the U.S. Some people are still learning it. The Scandinavians probably went through this conflict 500 years ago in their native countries.

        PS – What is a Scandahoovian?

    • Scott Shaffer
      Scott Shaffer March 17, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      “[Demolitions] are the equivalent of the death penalty.” Insofar as a pile of bricks, wood, glass, and plastic is the equivalent of a human being with memories, feelings, relationships, and dreams. Which is to say, not at all.

      Unless this is ironic hyperbole in reaction to a post opposing hysteria, in which case: good job.

      • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 10:48 am #

        It’s an analogy. A demolition is as serious as it gets with regards to urban design, architecture, and preservation. While I in no means want to trivialize people’s lives, I stand by the analogy. The death penalty is as serious as it gets. And it’s fairly close to the situation that you described in your post about 24th and Colfax when one of the Preservation Commissioners that stated that “demolitions are not in my vocabulary”.

        Like I’ve stated in other threads, vernacular architecture no longer exists. We will never get it back if we let it go.

        • Jeff Klein March 17, 2014 at 10:56 am #

          Demolitions of single family houses don’t concern me much, but we have a frightening history of demolishing lovely downtown or major corridor multi-use bulidings — the same ones urbanists regret today.

        • Scott Shaffer
          Scott Shaffer March 17, 2014 at 11:12 am #

          I’m just worried that your analogy sheds more heat than light. I could say that legally-mandated preservation is like withholding the right to marry from gay people, but I wouldn’t expect it to change anyone’s mind.

          I have a serious question: What does vernacular architecture mean? 2320 Colfax was built by a Nova Scotian, and it’s part of a national trend that mimicked/revived the Queen Anne style from England. What’s local or traditional about that?

          Michael Lander, who wants to build the new building, is a native of the Upper Midwest and lives in East Calhoun, Minneapolis. He wants to build a well-insulated, solar-heated building that’s definitely based on local needs. Lander serves on the board of local nonprofits and designed the West River Commons, one of the best urban infill projects in the history of the Twin Cities.

          If Lander, and others like him, are allowed to continue building and developing skills, won’t he develop a local tradition that caters to our area’s specific needs? Won’t that be new vernacular architecture?

          • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 11:40 am #

            That’s cool. I appreciate your comment and your work so I don’t want to escalate anything with you. I used to go to a lot of meetings as well but have other things to do now so I certainly appreciate you.

            I don’t know about the marriage analogy. What externalities does a marriage have on the commons? Most of what single sex couples gain through marriage they were already doing anyway, like child custody and asset management. Marriage just makes it easier and our society better and more tolerant.

            Vernacular architecture, in my mind, ties the built landscape to the traditions, materials, and values of a community. Maybe the builder of 24th and Colfax was from Nova Scotia but James J. Hill was from Ontario as well. He did most of his life’s work here correct? I would argue that traditions are less local, materials are international commodities, and building techniques and design have been professionally standardized by technology. These things are not bad or anything but the approach to building that was taken 100 years ago is not possible today. The connections are just not as good. Developers today still have to do site sensitive work of coarse, but the whole business process of design, materials, and building techniques is more standard across the entire profession regardless of market or location.

            I don’t want to make anything about Lander because by all accounts he is a good guy that does good work. In this case, he has seen an opportunity in a distressed property with favorable zoning. It’s just good business and we always want developers to be good business people. But I would prefer, and my experience is that historic preservation would help to incentive this, if Lander would see an opportunity in an underutilized parcel on Hennepin Avenue and propose to build a mixed use building there. A lot of the single story commercial buildings on Hennepin can be demolished, that’s okay with me. But he doesn’t have to do this if his next project can be 24th and Colfax.

            • Adam Miller
              Adam March 17, 2014 at 11:57 am #

              One of the most frustrating parts of this debate is the “why not build it on this other bit of land that’s not at issue?” That other bit of land may not be available, it may not be appropriate and there might be just as many objections if there were plans there. And, moreover, we should be evaluating this proposal, not imagining ones we think would be more ideal.

              As for demolishing single story commercial buildings elsewhere, we certainly know that’s never an issue.

              • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

                It’s a regulated economy. All market activity is guided by regulations in some way or another, and as a society we try to incentivize certain behaviors and outcomes. This is not unique to the building and density in Minneapolis debate.

                But building and development is especially heavily regulated because there are lots of externalities. There might only be on buyer and seller but everyone has to live with the results.

                • Adam Miller
                  Adam March 17, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

                  It would not be difficult to argue that it’s excessively regulated, especially when the alleged externalities justifying it get as soft as they often tend to get in preservation debates.

                  • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

                    You’re an attorney right? The law doesn’t kick in until there is an injured party correct?

                    • Adam Miller
                      Adam March 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

                      I’m not sure I follow you. There can certainly be regulation without an injured party.

                  • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

                    What I think you mean by “soft” is that the regulatory framework that protects historic properties expands to easily in cases like 24th and Colfax, and the Dinkytown commercial building. But parties can only be injured if the demolition is pending and they are threatened by the loss of community resources. Before the harm there is no grounds to regulate or at least propose regulation correct?

                    We want to regulate real threats to the public not theoretical ones right?

                    • Adam Miller
                      Adam March 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

                      By soft I mean poorly defined and potentially subject to manipulation. Like the Dinkytown project, yes.

                      Keeping in mind that everything I know about local zoning and historical preservation law I’ve learned from this blog, Dinkytown seems like a very good example of how even a code that’s quite specific can be overridden by enough squeaky wheels.

                      Perhaps I’m being excessively cynical, but you can regulate for whatever reason you want if you can accumulate enough influence. It’s not at all theoretical to argue that the goal is just as often personal benefit as much as harm reduction.

                      I’d argue that the harm tends to flow in the opposite direction, toward the party whose property is suddenly about to be declared a community resource when it had been previously his sole responsibility. Again, Dinkytown is instructive, where the property owner would really have had no reason to expect anyone to try to preserve an nondescript commercial building until enough community resistance to change caused an unofficial rewriting of the rules.

              • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

                Adam, there are plenty of parcels available for development without demolition.

                • Adam Miller
                  Adam March 19, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

                  And how is that at all relevant?

                  • Cadillac Kolstad March 19, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

                    Adam, It is relevant because demolition is a wasteful environmentally destructive process. It also causes emotional distress pain and disgust for many residents. Developing vacant parcels and less controversial areas will serve us all by facilitating progress and reducing conflict and controversy. If the purpose is increasing housing stock, options and density then policy should maximise this. in the last major development wave 37,000 housing units were built over a 20 year period (1960-1980) yet 35,000 units were demolished. After spending billions and reaping destruction on the city, we ended up with a net gain of 2,000 units. After reviewing the city wrecking permits it appears we have a similar situation now. In such situations the only real beneficiaries are builders and developers.

          • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

            Scott are you sure you don’t get paid by Lander? you seem to love him an awful lot, in fact many of the self proclaimed urbanists seem to over advocate for the rich and powerful. Is it possible you really believe that theses mega wealthy developers are actually selfless community builders. I think thats a major problem in having a bunch of ignorant but well intentioned kids who grew up in the suburbs move here and suddenly declare war on those of us who have actually lived in cities all of our lives

            • Morgan March 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

              Cadillac!

              Let’s not attack Scott too personally please. Streets.MN is good people even if we disagree sometimes.

              It’s true that his position is a little bit naive. This project as proposed is lowest common denominator. It doesn’t require the integration of a historic property into a site plan, doesn’t have to deal with a absorption of commercial uses, and doesn’t help to open up an emerging part of the city to more development (think Hiawatha and Lake). All things that we as advocates that care about the city should be pressing our high performing developers that can bring significant resources to bear on a project to do.

              Management of high performers is always pushing them to do more, better. The resources that business people like Lander brings to the table can get an even higher return for the City as a whole if better guided by advocates.

              • Matt Steele
                Matt Steele March 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

                But the reality is that more folks want to live at 24th/Colfax and fewer folks want to live at Hi-Lake. That will change over time, but the markets aren’t the same.

      • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

        Scott, Demolition is also wasteful and causes pollution. accounts for 40% of the waste stream.

      • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

        Death of a person affects those around the person not really the dead person and demolition affects those who care about a community. the dead person and the dead building are equally inanimate.

        • Morgan March 18, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

          Good point!

  7. Jeff Klein March 17, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Thought this quote from Steve Berg’s MinnPost article today sums up the situation nicely:

    “… the built-in advantage that the status quo enjoys: It is an actual constituency; it can vote and it can complain loudly to elected officials, even about petty details and imaginary consequences. By contrast, the new 100,000 people that Hodges hopes to attract have no voice at City Hall. No one shows up to speak for them or for the long-range benefits they could bring.”

    • Scott Shaffer
      Scott Shaffer March 17, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      Yes. At the most recent Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association zoning and planning meeting, a homeowner (theatrically) complained that, if the Franklin-Lyndale development went through, he might have to adjust his antenna to get TV reception.

      It would’ve been nice if the very real people who would work at FrankLyn’s street-level stores and restaurant, or the very real people who would live in one of its 89 units, would have been there to speak up, so everyone could get a more balanced picture of what’s really at stake.

      • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

        For the record I think that the Franklin and Lyndale project is a good one. Do you think that a Planned Unit Agreement and a Community Benefits Agreement would be helpful in this case?

        • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

          *Planned Unit Development. Sorry, my brain is quicker than my fingers.

      • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

        much of your new development displaces existing jobs, housing and small business.

    • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      Jeff, you contradict yourself. Betsy Hodges is speaking for the new 100,000 she is trying to bring !!

  8. Erik March 17, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    “To be honest, when I think about my friends who are really into urbanism and Minneapolis development, almost none of them grew up here. Out of that group, I can think of one person who was born and raised in Minneapolis.”

    How much should this matter to the debate? I don’t think anyone’s opinion needs to be prefaced with where they originally came from. Who cares! Plus, the fact that we CHOSE to move to a less than ideal neighborhood in the city, might make us more invested in the outcome of said city.

    Furthermore, Team 2 seems to care about the city as a whole. How many people on these boards and over at UrbanMSP go to public input meets for projects in other neighborhoods? While status quo-ers seem to only care about policy if it affects their immediate property, neighborhood or streets.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino March 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

      It’s not relevant, but it’s material.

      P.S. I hope I’m using this phrase correctly–heard it in court and am a big fan of it.

      • Bill Lindeke
        Bill Lindeke March 17, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

        this plus the above comment about learning everything about legal historic status via streets.mn makes me realize that we need to stop trying to teach people how to practice law via streets.mn discussion threads… it cannot end well. we’ll all be in the clink before you know it.

        • Adam Miller
          Adam March 20, 2014 at 11:14 am #

          Don’t worry, I’ve learned about other laws in various other places (like law school), but just not about the local zoning code and historic preservation law.

          As for Nick’s lesson, I’m not sure how something could be material without being relevant.

    • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Eric, it matters because we were here before it was cool we were urbanists when the self proclaimed “urbanist” still lived in the suburbs. now after many years of hard work the city is much more attractive to people who would have been way to scared to live here in the 90’s or before. These smart alec smarmy people show up and start making fun of us who want to preserve some facet of the city we occupied and fought so hard to improve.
      Young suburbanites who have no context for understanding what is going on think they are urbanist but are really pushing to make minneapolis more suburban with this obsession for new shiny ticky tacky.

      • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

        sorry erik with a k

      • Matty Lang
        Matty Lang March 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

        I’ve lived here (in Minneapolis or Saint Paul proper) since the 90s and have never lived in the suburbs, not that this should carry any sort of weight in this discussion. I think you are mistaken in comparing what Michael Lander has demonstrated that he can add to an urban neighborhood with what Malvina Reynolds describes as ricky tacky in her song.

      • Cedar March 18, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

        I consider myself an urbanist. I also grew up in Minneapolis (in Uptown), as did my husband. I don’t think that’s particularly relevant to the discussion, although evidently others do. We have also lived in a variety of other cities as adults, and feel that those experiences have also helped to shape our opinions as to both what works really well about this city as well as what could be improved.

        I also don’t think the general development discussion should be framed as a historic preservation issue, although of course in some cases preserving older buildings is at stake.. While I generally want to see historic buildings preserved, I overall think most of the new development in Minneapolis is a great thing. Uptown has changed a great deal since I was a kid; it’s become far more expensive, and while I am a happy renter, I doubt I could ever comfortably afford to purchase a single family home in the neighborhood. I feel that more housing units mean more housing options, which in turn could help keep housing costs down.

        What I REALLY want is to make it easier for Minneapolis residents to build backyard carriage houses or “granny flats”. Let’s tear down the garages (as most are not particularly historic) and replace them with housing. Best of both worlds: increased density and more housing, but without drastically changing the streetscape of the neighborhood.

  9. Adam Miller
    Adam March 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    I went for walk around 24th and Colfax and the surrounding neighborhood yesterday, and I couldn’t help contrasting what’s happening in that neighborhood to what’s happen in in SW.

    The Wedge, and in particular in the blocks closest to Hennepin, is full of gigantic houses that were presumably built as mansions for the relatively wealthy that are not longer used as such. Awhile back the wife and I looked at one with half-hearted interest because of the absolutely beautiful woodwork on the first floor dining and living rooms. But then there were the second floor (three bedrooms and a bath, I think) and the fourth floor (presumably originally servants’ quarters and, apparently not so long ago, rented as boarding). It was just way more house than I could ever see being practical.

    From the sidewalk, there seem to be many like it in the neighborhood. And what all of these houses have in common is that they are too big to be useful as single family homes. Someone needs to be really well off to buy one and then willing to spend the money to restore or maintain it in a neighborhood that is pretty diverse, socioeconomically.

    Which, of course, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and is why very few of the remaining mansions seem to still be in use as single family homes. They’re apartments or condos or duplexes now, and they are in truly varied states of repair.

    Immediately across 24th from the property in question is a beautifully restored (at least to my untrained eye) house of similar proportions. Someone clearly invested a lot to restore and maintain something that looks truly special.

    You can see how someone could do that with Mr. Crow’s house. But it would take someone pretty special who wants to spend that kind of money in that neighborhood. And then there is the question of whether that’s what we want for the neighborhood too. Would each of these gigantic old houses being bought and renovated by someone rich enough turn them into museum pieces be an improvement?

    And that brings me to SW, where apparently neighbors are worried about new, gigantic mansions invading their neighborhood. I’m often skeptical about the concerns those neighbors raise. Rising property values means their wealth is increasing. Disruptions from construction are temporary, and call for better enforcement, not less construction.

    But maybe the Wedge should make us wary about sustainability. Will newer, massive houses maintain their market value? Or will they go the way of the mansions of old and end up needing to be subdivided and, because of decreased demand and decreased value, end up in disrepair?

    So, finally, my fanciful, magic-wand solution: anyone who wants to tear down and build a bigger house in, say, Linden Hills, should instead buy and renovation an existing giant house in the Wedge.

    And if it’s just me waiving around my redevelopment wand, I might actually ease the demolition process if the project is one that increases density.

    • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      Thank you for sharing you observations,

      Well, those buildings don’t have to be single family museums pieces. They are zoned R5 and R6 right? They should be multi-family, and because of the renovation costs, converted into condos. It’s only the exterior that would be protected in an historic district or as a historic structure so the interiors can be very modern.

      It is true that our market does not allow for that right now. We have had very few condo projects in Minneapolis since the recession because single family homes just aren’t expensive enough to support the condo market (my humble opinion). There are a lot of reasons for that but past policy mistakes is certainly one of them.

      But I don’t see any urgency. The market will improve and with streetcar and other investments in the area investment in these properties will be more attractive.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam March 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

        It’s interesting to think about why the rowhouses of DC and Brooklyn got turned into condos while the big mansions of south Minneapolis did not. At least yet.

        I won’t pretend to have an answer for that question, aside from noting that even after converted they’d be nowhere near as dense. But it would be great to see more of them go that way.

        • Morgan March 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

          As a local example, most of the large houses on Summit Avenue near the hill are condos. It usually starts by telling people that you can’t tear them down.

          The apartments can go on Hennepin as mixed use buildings! Yay! It’s a tougher project for developers but would be great for the neighborhood. Would make Hennepin a better street faster as well.

    • Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

      Adam, This is a great idea!
      I think it is very important to realize that rising property value is only a benefit if you are selling your home or possibly if you need a home equity loan. If you just want to live in your home rising property value lowers your wealth by increasing your taxes.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam March 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

        No, it changes your asset mix and can affect your cash flow by raising your property taxes, but it’s still increasing your wealth. You own an asset, your house, that is appreciating, which makes you richer just like if you owned a stock that was appreciating.

        The difficultly, as you point out, is that you have to pay property taxes that increase on the basis of those non-cash gains and the simplest way to realize them – by selling your house – is not what you want to do. Still, there ways to get cash from them, for example via a home equity loan as you say.

        Of course, those ways may involve more complicated financial dealings than many people are really comfortable with, but they are still there.

  10. Matty Lang
    Matty Lang March 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    C’mon Nick. You can refer to our city as Minneapolis Saint Paul or MSP if you’re into the brevity thing. Don’t be afraid of change. 😉

  11. Sam Newberg
    Sam Newberg March 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    Nick, you know one person who was born and raised in Minneapolis AND is interested in urbanism and development!?

    Well, I am, too, so that makes a total of two of us! I’d like to meet this other person and shake his/her hand!

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke March 17, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

      I’m half-raised in Saint Paul so I guess that counts as like .25 of one person raised in Minneapolis.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino March 17, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

      (It’s Thatcher)

      Just an observation, I didn’t send out a questionnaire or anything. I actually knew quite a few people in college who were from St. Paul, but I don’t think I met anyone from Minneapolis. The closest of those St. Paul friends has since bought a house in Maplewood :(

      • Sam Newberg
        Sam Newberg March 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

        I had my money on Thatcher!

        • Janne Flisrand
          Janne Flisrand March 19, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

          You forgot Cedar!

          • Cedar March 19, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

            Yes — born and raised in Uptown and am definitely an urbanist, as are both of my brothers!

            I have old high school friends who are interested in urban issues, too, so I don’t think there’s any reason to suspect that those of us who grew up here are any less likely to be interested in urban issues than those who moved here from elsewhere. Could be that some of the Minneapolis-raised urban enthusiasts left for bigger city pastures, too; I have lots of former classmates in Chicago, Boston, NYC, Tokyo, etc My husband (a city-lover who who spent most of his childhood in the Wedge) and I ourselves lived in a handful of other big cities before returning to Minneapolis.

            • Adam Miller
              Adam March 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

              I figure my time in Shaw (DC) counts for double or something, even if I did grow up in the suburbs and have only lived in Minneapolis proper during college and since 2010.

  12. Julie Kosbab March 17, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    I think it’s important not to fall victim to false nostalgia.

    And sometimes, the “must preserve this historic building!” stuff is false nostalgia. Obviously, streets.mn has gone over a few of the buildings declared “historic” being saved in Dinkytown. There are other cases as well.

    Classic doesn’t always equal good, or worth keeping.

  13. Cadillac Kolstad March 18, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    The premise of this article is incorrect the population of minneapolis showed the most growth between 1990 and 2000 the population grew 3.9% in the 10 years from 2000-2010, the population remained static. It is estimated that the population has grown by 10,000 since 2010 but there is no hard data to support this. The current population is estimated slightly above 1920’s level. The current population is well below the numbers from 1930 to 1970. The only reason we may need more building to house a growing population is that there has been so much excessive demolition in the last half century. There are also numerous outdated policies that prevent many forms of housing, such as limiting unrelated people from cohabitation. Strict rules exist mandating parking lots for new businesses, which often requires demolition of existing buildings.
    The city will be near its 1940 census population If Minneapolis ads the 100,000 people mayor Hodges is advocating.

    • Cadillac Kolstad March 19, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

      Streets MN Editorial Policy #3: “should contain no factual errors, since streets.mn does not have a fact-checker. We expect authors to be factually correct and clearly differentiate fact from opinion. If there is something that is contested factually, please note that, and provide sources. Blatantly wrong facts will generally be called out in the Comments.”

      For the first time since the 1950s, Minneapolis’ population is growing. – False

  14. Sam Newberg
    Sam Newberg March 18, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    At the risk of being somehow associated with Michael Lander, it is worth pointing out that he has quite a record of preserving and attractively reusing buildings, including some at 38th and Nicollet not shown on this link. http://www.landergroup.com/LG-portfolio-completedprojects.php
    Any building can be preserved, some with much greater risk and expense, and some have been altered so much it makes preservation harder to justify.

  15. Cadillac Kolstad March 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    It is very important to note that the author of this article makes a very good point that very few large developments are denied and that for the most part the city has been very supportive of large housing developments.Thank you Nick for pointing this out. It’s hard to understand the blowback from so called “pro growth urbanists” on the few occasions the city puts the brakes on larger developments and demolition. I also wonder why this same group is not as vocal about the regulatory framework preventing growth on a smaller more organic scale?

  16. Cadillac Kolstad March 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    I wanted to reiterate the thesis of this article is right on, it’s just the population info thats off. The hysteria point is very well made. I post this because I just read the post on using the term NIMBY this is the best post i have read on the site!!!
    nick makes a great point that it would help communicate if several of the development promoters would stop with the name calling and hysteria. It certainly has colored my feelings and responses. I am someone who supports micro housing, good transit, reduces sprawl, ADU’s, walkability etc. as well as PRESERVATION and opposing wasteful demolition. So it is offensive when the discussion automatically seems to suggest someone opposing demolitions is a NIMBY, responsible for urban sprawl, wanting to keep things the same for ever.
    Thank you nick.
    http://streets.mn/2013/05/09/lets-stop-calling-people-nimbys/

  17. Steven Prince March 27, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    “There are people who show up to public meetings and will never, ever support any change. There are those who call their City Council member and demand that no one new ever move into their neighborhood…”

    Name one person who lives in Minneapolis and fits this description.

    I’ve lived here 29 years and I have yet to meet anyone as so described.

    The problem is a belief by members of the described team 2 that there is a “team 1″ opposed to all development.

    Of course believing that people who oppose all development drive the debate or run the neighborhood organizations is nice straw-man argument that allow you to dismiss real concerns by thoughtful and concerned neighbors while pretending your viewpoint is the only one that supports a better more urban city.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino March 29, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      “The problem is a belief by members of the described team 2 that there is a “team 1″ opposed to all development. Of course believing that people who oppose all development drive the debate or run the neighborhood organizations is nice straw-man argument that allow you to dismiss real concerns by thoughtful and concerned neighbors while pretending your viewpoint is the only one that supports a better more urban city.”

      That was sort of the point of the post.

      • Steven Prince April 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

        Nick,
        If it was, the nuance was lost on me.

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