Mpls Lost Value Map

Map Monday: Potential Lost Land Value in Minneapolis due to Freeways

Via Strong Towns, here’s an interesting map that purports to show how much Minneapolis land value was “lost” due to the replacing of dense urban land with non-taxpaying freeway infrastructure.

As you have probably noticed, now that 35W and other interstate trenches are under construction, multi-lane urban freeways and onramps take up a lot of potentially valuable urban land. Using an anlaysis of per-acre tax value, a consulting firm named Urban3 looked at the freeways near central Minneapolis and came up with a rough estimate for the opportunity cost of these freeways.

Here’s the map:

Minneapolis Lost Value Map

There’s also a somewhat difficult to read interactive slider map that lets you see the potential and actual land values in central Minneapolis.

Here’s what the article, by Connor Nielsen states about the analysis:

Using a set of historic maps, he discovered the block pattern that once existed where seven square miles of highways now run through downtown.

He then mapped the highway onto the streetcar map to determine which blocks were bulldozed to make way for the highway’s construction. The slider map below zooms in on the I-94 and I-35W interchange area, first with the highway, and then replaced by modern value per acre estimates for the blocks that were demolished.

Projecting present-day values of neighboring parcels onto the missing blocks suggests that the highway eliminated buildings that would be worth at least $655 million today. This estimate is conservative because the neighboring parcels that these estimates are based on would likely be higher themselves if they abutted similar blocks rather than a large highway. Urban3 estimates the loss of billions of dollars in tax producing real estate value over several decades.

This kind of study is a lot like the back-of-the-napkin estimate that Alex Cecchini did back in 2014 about how 35W affected home values in South Minneapolis.

In both cases, the conclusion is clear. Putting freeways through the center of Minneapolis, and bulldozing thousands of homes and eradicating urban blocks, cost the city a ton in otherwise taxable land.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.