Map of the Day: Gentrification in Minneapolis

Governing Magazine has an article on Gentrification in America. Minneapolis is a league leader, ranking third behind only Portland and Washington. Quoting from the article:

Minneapolis: After experiencing little change during the 1990s, 39 Minneapolis neighborhoods gentrified over the past decade.

Key drivers of the city’s transformation are fairly typical of other gentrifying cities. Kjersti Monson, the city’s director of long-range planning, cited the role of infrastructure investments, particularly light rail, the parks system and new sports stadiums downtown. The timing of these investments, she said, coupled with recent national trends in valuing urbanity, set the table for the city’s demographic shift.

“There has been a huge renaissance downtown,” Monson said, “and it has brought a lot of wealth, empty nesters and investors.” Young professionals seeking urban amenities also are attracted to the area’s affordability.

Gentrification in Minneapolis. Source:

Gentrification in Minneapolis. (Source)

Methodology from the article:

For this report, an initial test determined a tract was eligible to gentrify if its median household income and median home value were both in the bottom 40th percentile of all tracts within a metro area at the beginning of the decade. To assess gentrification, growth rates were computed for eligible tracts’ inflation-adjusted median home values and percentage of adults with bachelors’ degrees. Gentrified tracts recorded increases in the top third percentile for both measures when compared to all others in a metro area. (Read complete methodology)

17 thoughts on “Map of the Day: Gentrification in Minneapolis

  1. helsinki

    Not really sure the ‘huge renaissance downtown’ has been driven by sports stadiums. Kind of misses the point, actually.

    1. Wayne

      And more than half the areas that are (big air quote) gentrified (end big air quote) are nowhere near stadiums or the light rail. Not to say the light rail isn’t great, but I don’t think it’s exactly gentrifying east lake street or anything.

  2. Mike

    If my gentrification report concluded that Minneapolis was somehow the third most gentrified city in the nation, you know, that would just raise a tiny red flag for me.

  3. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    I’m really not a fan of the concept of “gentrification” but let’s take a look at tract in the middle, where the urban core along the river is shown as “gentrified.”

    When what’s actually happened is the number of people living there has grown by 50% because formerly empty land (or surface parking) have been replaced by new condos and apartment.

    Is labeling that “gentrification” supposed to make people think this is a bad thing?

    1. Rosa

      yeah, that (and some of the development along the light rail corridor, where housing replaced light industrial that was mostly not even the kind that employs many people) is the absolute best kind of gentrification. That area down by the river used to be pretty Mad Max. I’m surprised that the population growth is only 50% – where were people living before? I just remember parking lots and empty silos with occasional squatters.

  4. Daniel Herriges

    Maybe it’s having lived in San Francisco for a few years, but I have a very hard time believing that gentrification is a significant problem in Minneapolis, perhaps outside of very small, special-case pockets where rents have skyrocketed. And even skyrocketing rents need not imply displacement of low-income residents (specifically, if it’s caused by new construction on lots that formerly were not residential, as Adam’s comment mentions). Does anyone know of a Mpls. neighborhood where, anecdotally or empirically, significant numbers of residents are actually being forced to leave the neighborhood because they can no longer afford to live there? I just haven’t heard such stories.

    The Twin Cities area typically does very well in nationwide surveys of housing affordability relative to average incomes. There’s certainly poverty in Minneapolis, and that in itself is an actual problem, but gentrification just doesn’t seem like one here. You haven’t seen real gentrification, with the large-scale displacement the term implies, unless you’ve spent time in SF, DC, or New York lately.

    1. Rosa

      In my neighborhood, Powderhorn, we had a lot of displacement from foreclosures, which has been followed by visibly-richer people moving in – mostly it’s visible in lower densities, families half the size of the families that left in the same house or apartment. But the people who were displaced were displaced when housing costs were falling, not rising (rents were rising for part of it, though.) I don’t know if that has a label.

  5. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker

    The core issue with gentrification is that residents in an area are forced out of it by rising rents and property taxes. To use a definition of gentrification that doesn’t look at who is leaving and who is coming in seems to miss the point entirely. All this map seems to show is districts that have gotten wealthier and more educated, which is a good thing, unless this study can also show that people were displaced because of the shift.

  6. David LevinsonDavid Levinson Post author

    Gentrification is complicated. I am not sure when or why it became a dirty word. If incomes or education are rising even without new construction it may quite be possible that no one is explicitly displaced. Instead, the new people who move in are wealthier (more educated) than those who move out, and would have moved out anyway. So instead of similar incomes being replaced in kind, income rises. No one is thrown out of their homes. People on average move every 5 or 6 years anyway so there is natural turnover and a long vacancy chain.

    Of course, if rents are rising very rapidly, people might be priced out of their homes when rents (or even property taxes [for grandma on a fixed income]) rise every year. This always happens at the margins, but for most people price is one factor among many in choosing a location (the benefit of the location being another, the quality of the structure a third).

    1. Matt Brillhart

      I’m not sure if it would have been appropriate editorial practice, but I really thought about putting quotation marks around “Gentrification” in the title. Luckily, it seems our commenters took this study with as much well-deserved skepticism as I did. The map (and study) is interesting, of course, but their definition of the G-word is really suspect.

    2. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker

      I guess that’s the tension here, right? Gentrification has become this dirty word because people explicitly connect it with displacement (even if that would’ve come naturally) and shades of colonization. (eg: the term “Columbusing” is related to gentrification).

      Even if the textbook definition of gentrification excludes that aspect, they are fully merged in the popular conception.

      I’m not the only one in these comments to quibble with the method used in this study, and I think that’s the basis of why. While technically correct, this study seems to ignore the part of gentrification that everyone wants to talk about these days.

    3. Thinking Human

      Wait, why would the lower-income folks “have moved out anyway”? And where are you getting that “no one is thrown out of there homes”, especially in a city where sketchy home loan practices and subsequent foreclosures were so rampant that the Occupy Homes movement gained so much traction here and the UN even picked on Minneapolis in particular in a report on the issue? I saw an eviction in progress just yesterday, in Philips. Also, I happen to know that our landlord in South Minneapolis forced out the previous tenants by raising the rent… Does that not count? Or are you just trying a wee bit too hard to pretend like there’s not a problem here?

      1. Rosa

        Well, back in the halcyon days of 2002-2007, a lot of older people of color cashed out big time on houses that had doubled or tripled in value in South Minneapolis. More white people did, because of the racist history of real estate & lending practices, but there was still a big replacement of lower-income (though possibly not lower-wealth – retired people can have low income and high wealth, comparatively).

        I don’t know if it’s fair to say there’s no displacement if people leave voluntarily, though. A lot of people who would really like to live in the neighborhoods where they grew up, couldn’t – they were going to move to a new address anyway, but not necessarily a new neighborhood.

  7. Kody Thurnau

    This past summer we did some analysis around the issue of gentrification and trying to understand it here in the Twin Cities. Our analysis was based on a study in Portland, OR by Lisa K. Bates titled “Gentrification and Displacement Study: Implementing an equitable inclusive development strategy in the context of gentrification”. We applied the methodology from that study and applied it here.

    A deeper understanding of the social and economic conditions, along with investments over time is needed rather than simply saying a neighborhood has gentrified or not. I don’t so much question the methodology used by Governing Magazine, but rather how the information is shared doesn’t give the reader very much information of what is actually taking place in a particular neighborhood.

Comments are closed.