School Ratings In Minneapolis

Southwest Minneapolis: Critical to Minneapolis 2040

Where do people want to live? The short answer: Minneapolis. Millennials don’t want to spend their lives inside cars, and older residents don’t want to be dependent on driving for simple tasks like getting groceries or picking up a few things at Target. People increasingly want to live near the amenities of a city as opposed to those of the suburbs.

The population of our city is growing and will continue to grow. But where do people want to live in Minneapolis? It’s an important question to ask as Minneapolis gets ready to finalize its Comprehensive Plan. Knowing which neighborhoods people want to live in helps us plan for new housing as people continue to move to Minneapolis.

People want to live in our “best” neighborhoods, but that means different things to different people. People are willing to spend more money on housing (provided they have the money and the housing is available) to be close to convenience like grocery stores, good schools, nearby parks and lakes, etc. One simple metric that demonstrates the desirability of an area is housing cost.

Thanks to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, we have access to home sale prices by neighborhood. The two most popular areas to live? Southwest Minneapolis and Calhoun-Isles (I sent this group a note about removing “Calhoun” from the name):

Median Home Sale Prices By Neighborhood

The two most desirable and expensive places to buy a home are Calhoun-Isles and Southwest.

So what drives the demand in these high-priced neighborhoods? There are many factors and everyone weighs them differently. For example, we all want a safe place to live, but maybe access to high-quality schools is more important for families with young children. Likewise, some people would prefer to get to work via transit (or biking or walking), and some need a car to get to their job.

On the topic of safety, Minneapolis Police posts crime data online. The following is violent crime data from 9/15/18 to 10/15/18 (blue dots are robberies, red dots are aggravated assaults):

1 Month Minneapolis Crime Rates

Minneapolis robberies and aggravated assaults from 9/15/2018 to 10/15/2018. Southwest Minneapolis and Calhoun-Isles are helpfully circled. Note that crimes handled by U of MN Police are not included in this map.

Using this map, it’s fairly easy to conclude where safe places are to live. Comparing this to home prices tells us that people living in the Calhoun-Isles and Southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods are subject to less crime (and are willing to pay a premium for this). Building more housing in these areas means more people can live in safe neighborhoods.

For parents and those thinking about starting a family, access to high-quality schools is a primary concern (and a key reason many move to the suburbs, but that’s another post). Where are the best schools? Southwest Minneapolis has most of them:

Minneapolis Schools

School rankings provided by See if you can locate SW Minneapolis on the map!

School Ratings In Minneapolis

All schools in Minneapolis with a rating higher than 5 from Greatschools (note that no schools are above 38th St). The highest ranked schools are in SW Minneapolis.

If you want to live near a good school, Southwest Minneapolis is your best option. More housing in South and Southwest Minneapolis means more families have access to high-quality education.

Gentrification Concerns

Many neighborhoods in Minneapolis are gentrifying rapidly. In areas like Whittier and Uptown, this means both new (expensive!) construction and renovations of existing housing. A shortage of housing in Minneapolis leads to increased housing costs and people being priced out of the neighborhoods they call home.

How do we prevent unnecessary housing pressure and displacement in neighborhoods on the edge of gentrification? Legalizing new multi-family housing in areas that cannot be gentrified, such as Southwest Minneapolis and the area near Lake of the Isles, reduces pressure to build elsewhere. Every new home we do not allow there will be built elsewhere, likely in a hip “up-and-coming” neighborhood.

Of course, new multi-family housing in expensive neighborhoods is consistently opposed by vocal factions of existing residents. For example, new housing at 43rd and Upton in Linden Hills was successfully held up by local residents for nearly a decade, resulting in fewer homes and retail spaces (it’s a commercial corridor and recently built 29 homes on one corner; a different proposed project had 60 homes and six street-facing commercial spaces, but was fought by concerned neighbors).

Though some residents work hard to oppose new housing, creating a variety of new housing types can benefit existing neighborhood residents as well. Not everyone can maintain a single-family home for their entire life. There are gutters to be cleaned, lawns to be mowed, and home repairs that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Multi-family housing can provide housing for residents who want to stay in the neighborhood but not deal with the physical and financial challenges that come with single-family homes.

Finally, some testimony at the October 2018 Minneapolis Planning Commission hearing on the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan lamented that those who oppose multi-family housing are viewed as racist. Opposing new multi-family rental housing means keeping certain people out of the community. It means upholding the exclusionary zoning that’s a pillar of systemic racism in housing policy across the country:

Renter Share Demographic Chart Update

Data from 2016 demonstrates that people of color are most likely to be renters.

If the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan is to succeed in stopping runaway housing costs and creating housing opportunity across the city, dismantling exclusionary single-family zoning in Southwest Minneapolis must be part of the plan.

Anton Schieffer

About Anton Schieffer

Anton lives in Minneapolis and writes about information technology, government transparency, and local housing issues. He mostly wants to build enough housing so that everyone has a place to live.

16 thoughts on “Southwest Minneapolis: Critical to Minneapolis 2040

    1. Anton SchiefferAnton Schieffer Post author

      As someone who was raised by a single parent, I couldn’t agree more. My mom rented while raising me, but according to Mpls 2040 testimony I heard last week, she didn’t properly “contribute to the neighborhood”! I think SW Mpls residents’ concerns are informed by their own experiences renting (“I was young and didn’t care!”) and not by the reality: half our city rents, and it’s not just something you do after college.

      I also currently live next to four-story affordable apartment building that is filled with Somali families. It’s frustrating to hear some residents claim the parents raising these kids are not doing enough because they are renting. It’s also frustrating that buildings like it are not permitted in wealthy areas of the city. These families are wonderful neighbors!

      1. Davis Parker

        Thank you for this post. I agree very much that quality rental housing is needed in wealthier neighborhoods.

        “It’s also frustrating that buildings like it are not permitted in wealthy areas of the city.”

        There is some progress that is/can be made in this area and we should not lose sight of our power to do so, like in Tangletown:

        This apartment building very closely matches your description. More is needed!

  1. trent

    Some of the neighborhoods you appear eager to leave behind would benefit greatly from the stabilizing influence of families – renting, owning, doesn’t matter, just people invested in the community. Ditto on the schools. You can’t have a viable city-wide system if everyone is trying to get into 1 or 2 schools.

    And if neighborhoods change due to redevelopment – gentrification in some cases, what change occurs in a predominantly SF neighborhood like Southwest (or large swaths of Northeast, or Southeast, Nokomis, which are just as valid places to live but don’t elicit the same populist bile of taking on “the lakes” area in articles like this).

    Stands to reason these neighborhoods too will change – so with substantial density increases do you see any changes in any of the maps that make it “the” place to live? We’ve already heard about how Uptown area is becoming populated with expensive apartments and condos and yet crime rate is higher there than further south – so will that uptick in crime follow as further south begins to look more and more like Uptown?

    Feels like a case of skating to where the puck is vs where the puck is going to be. Personally I’m not opposed to most of the 2040 plan, but I am opposed to these type of simpleminded envy-driven analyses where people build a case that some part of the city is the ultimate destination based on a few favorable metrics and declare their inability to live there a crime against mankind. Wouldn’t it be great if we instead had 3-4 other parts of the city with the same appeal?

    1. Anton SchiefferAnton Schieffer Post author

      The point of the article was not to “take on the lakes,” but to remind us that nearly all the opposition to Minneapolis 2040 comes from Ward 13, and there are almost certainly efforts to exclude that area from the final plan. To do so would be a setback to the stated goals of Minneapolis 2040.

      1. Dan Johnson

        The 13th ward isn’t the only one up in arms. Many folks are against it but, we have been living here for much longer and are more civically engaged. Also, we have the most change in 2040. We go from single family lots to – destroy that single family house and the one next door and combine lots to build massive apartment/store front. Meanwhile the home 2 feet from this new apartment complex is dwarfed and buried in air conditioner and dog barking noise from the new apartment.

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          By any of the imperfect means we have to measure – location of signs, addresses of people testifying – the opposition really does appear to be concentrated in Ward 13. There’s opposition elsewhere too, but the vast majority seems to be in that part of the city.

          For some reason, we just aren’t seeing the same reaction to corridor treatment for Chicago, Bloomington, 28th and 34th in Ward 11. Or 28th, 34th, Minnehaha, 38th Street in Ward 12.

  2. Harrison

    The article suggests that neighborhoods on the edge of gentrification be protected from unnecessary housing pressure. This perpetuates the idea that the neighborhoods which want walk-able amenities like shops restaurants, and the like can do it without an infusion of new residents with more economic momentum. So if you re-direct a resident who would have bought in one of these edge neighborhoods back to where they really wanted to go (say Linden Hills, Kenwood etc….) you perpetuate the distinction between the two regions.

    The fact is the most important neighborhoods for 2040 are not Southwest (despite the feverish dreams of so many). It’s the more economically accessible neighborhoods where new developments that hit affordable price points are really a strong possibility and “missing middle” will be a contendor for redevelopment of single family neighborhoods.

  3. Dan Johnson

    How good your schools are and how low the crime rate, is based on the soil under your feet? This article is telling us that no matter what type of housing you allow in SW Mpls there will always be these great schools and low crime and it has nothing to do with the people that live there. There is a barrier to entry to SW Mpls. That barrier is money. Does that barrier have anything to do with the zero crime and great schools????? Hmmmmmm. Over the last 50 years the people of SW Mpls have allowed anyone into their great neighborhoods. To gain entry you need to be an owner and not a renter, mostly, and have paid your dues by working smarter than the last guy.

    We do need MUCH MORE diversity in SW Mpls but 2040 will absolutely not bring it. We need incentives to get that diversity here. Over 100 folks spoke at that City Council meeting on 2040 only one person of color spoke and they were against 2040. Does that tell you something? But – I believe – those in purple are part of the “I want it now” and “I want to have my cake and eat it too”. They want stainless steel granite and new dry wall plus the awesome neighborhood and this will force them into a wealth destroying lifestyle of renting forever.

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