Map Monday: Future Land Use Draft Maps for Minneapolis and Saint Paul

Once every ten years, the Comprehensive Plans reveal themselves like planets aligning, casting inscrutable shadows upon the zoning codes of our cities and towns. Then, in elaborate community rituals, various civic soothsayers and certified planners use these inklings to predict the future. That time is now, as both Minneapolis and Saint Paul (and other cities too!) have released their draft 2040 Comprehensive Plans for public review.

The entire plans are worth paging through, and I encourage anyone interested to do so and please share your thoughts with’s readers!

In the meantime, enjoy these draft maps of future land use in the two largest cities in Minnesota.

First up, Minneapolis:

The categories – e.g. destination mixed use, urban neighborhood – are explained in the comp plan itself, and via the cool website that you can check out. Please do so!

For example, “Neighborhood Mixed Use” is defined thus:

… includes individual commercial uses and small collections of commercial uses, located primarily away from major streets, that should continue to serve their existing commercial function. Commercial zoning is appropriate, while expansion of commercial uses and zoning into surrounding areas is not encouraged. Semi-permanent or temporary commercial retail establishments such as farmer’s markets are also appropriate in this category.


Finally, here is Saint Paul:

As with Minneapolis categories are defined in the plan. Probably most interestingly, the “neighborhood node” category explained thus:

Policy LU-29. Focus growth at Neighborhood Nodes using the following principles: 1. Increase density relative to underlying Future Land Use Map categories. 2. Prioritize pedestrian-friendly urban design and infrastructure that emphasizes pedestrian safety. 3. Cluster neighborhood amenities to create a vibrant critical mass. 4. Improve access to jobs by prioritizing development with high job density

Please send in comments on these plans to the appropriate cities! Also if you have interesting maps from other Minnesota cities’ draft comprehensive plans, please send my way or put a link in the comments below.

16 thoughts on “Map Monday: Future Land Use Draft Maps for Minneapolis and Saint Paul

  1. Lou Miranda

    Edina city council recently approved the new Bike & Ped Plan (which has interesting maps), but the various commissions are still reviewing & updating the chapters of the comp. plan. It’ll be summer, I believe, before we have a whole plan to browse. I suppose Mpls & St. Paul need more time, as they’re 5-10x bigger.

    Re: Neighborhood Mixed Use definition. I find this somewhat odd: “expansion of commercial uses and zoning into surrounding areas is not encouraged” as that is generally the pattern of how cities grow organically. If commercial areas get locked in place forever, we will end up with (most) residential forever away from mixed use buildings, even as single family homes become fourplexes which become missing middle which become apartments. As density increases, won’t cities need a gradual increase in retail & services?

    1. Joseph TottenJoseph Totten

      I’d be interested in these draft maps too! This is a great platform to catch some extra eyes to see if there’s a hidden gap or opportunity.

    2. Tim

      I raised an eyebrow at that line about expanding commercial use too. It seems counterproductive to encourage housing growth while not also allowing for commercial growth, especially if they are trying to reduce car dependence.

  2. Bob Roscoe

    i like the idea Minneapolis developed of using macrame to illustrate the plan. Taking ‘urban fabric’ to another phase.

  3. Daniel Hartigkingledion

    It’s nice that they are planning for density, but it would be somewhat better if they didn’t really plan at all. Outside of downtown and the industrial areas, they should just zone the entirety of Minneapolis both residential and commercial, with maybe a 50′ height restriction.

    At first I thought this was a pretty good idea, but why let 10-20 people in City Hall determine what half a million residents and workers can do with their city? Just let the city grow, man.

    I think the people who wrote up this planning document could have better spent their time walking around town issuing parking tickets to people in bike lanes.

  4. Joseph TottenJoseph Totten

    Saint Paul should really add in some more A-Line stops on the nodes. Randolph and Snelling? Grand and Snelling? Maybe even St. Clair, and Minnehaha?

  5. Rohan

    St Paul hasn’t built a hi-rise in over 20years.Neighborhoods opposed any new developments.St Clair and Snelling,W7th St ,Grand Ave Dixie restaurant project sare some projects that were derailed.About 30% of businesses are tax exempt.
    Dorothy Day Center now will occupy 2 city blocks on prime location.The city is obsessed with building parking ramps and lots instead of encouraging developments on prime locations.
    State Capitol is paving all the green space for parking and keep expanding parking further out.

    1. Daniel Hartigkingledion

      In fairness, the expanded Dorothy Day Center will provide housing, meals, and career development opportunities for the poor. From a tax perspective, it is obviously not optimal to have it in such a prime location, but if the objective is to combat segregation, integrating the less fortunate into a prime location that lots of the well off might run into when they go see a hockey game isn’t a bad thing.

    2. Dana DeMasterDana DeMaster

      Higher Ground (old Dorothy Day) offers 193 apartments in addition to the emergency shelter and pay-for-stay beds. About half of the building is apartments and half emergency shelter/pay-for-stay. So really, it is a large apartment building located near transit and walkable amenities. Isn’t that what urbanists want?

  6. DerekThompson

    With all the hype around the Minneapolis plan I hadn’t realized St Paul released a plan. What are the chances the new plan leads to increased density in the “urban neighborhoods”? Does the city have enough power to fight of the NIMBYs?

    1. josephmck

      Uh oh…what does it mean if the space where my house is located is black or gray?
      I hate to be a NIMBY but it’s a little concerning….

      1. Mike

        If the city or a flipper can get their hands on your property they will do what they please. Where I live is now classified as a commercial are even though it is a home.

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