Chart of the Day: Property Value v. Distance from Minneapolis Lakes

Here’s a fun chart / map combo from Strong Towns, using the excellent land value per acre maps that consultant Urban3 puts out. It shows the value-per-acre for areas around Lake Minnetonka and the South Minneapolis “chain of lakes” area.

Before we get to the chart, check out these maps:

Mn Lakes Land Value Both

Here are the two charts, showing how value-per-acre decreases as you get farther from each of the “lakes”:

Lake Minnetonka Chart Mpls Lakes Chart

The author’s point is to consider the value of lakes as public or private amenities, and how walkable areas can impact that. Here’s the key analysis:

Although the land surrounding Minnetonka is worth nearly double that of the Minneapolis lakes area, it is more than four times the acreage. Pound for pound, the Minneapolis lakes pack a significantly bigger punch in terms of land value; the average land VPA is $1.2 million, while Minnetonka’s is a little over a half million. This refers to the value of the underlying land alone.

Furthermore, the total (land + structure) VPA sets the two areas even further apart. The Minneapolis lakes have a total VPA of nearly $4 million, more than quadrupling Minnetonka’s total VPA.

We can also understand the value of public lake access by comparing the relationship between distance from the water and land VPA in each surrounding area, as opposed to only the lakeside properties. A small gap at the leftmost edge of the Minneapolis Lakes graph shows where public paths, green space and a street separate residential uses from the lake. In the Minnetonka graph, taxable land value starts immediately at the left (a distance of 0 meters from the water).

Especially given how fractal and weird Lake Minnetonka is, this is pretty cool data!

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3 Responses to Chart of the Day: Property Value v. Distance from Minneapolis Lakes

  1. Sean Hayford Oleary
    Sean Hayford Oleary June 11, 2019 at 2:32 pm #

    This is really cool. I have noticed/appreciated the public parkland buffering most Minneapolis lakes as an awesome amenity for the public at large. But I hadn’t considered the property value spread. Another great reason to not let lakes be just for a small wealthy group.

  2. James Schoettler June 11, 2019 at 3:30 pm #

    These charts illustrate the genius of Horace W. S. Cleveland, who designed the Minneapolis and St Paul Park systems back in the 1880’s. One of his key principles was to surround the lakes and streams with a band of public parkland and a parkway, so all the public could enjoy these beautiful water features – not just those who could afford lakefront property. This added value attaches to properties up to a mile away. In many of our suburbs, however, lakes and streams are walled off by high-value residences; so across the street the houses have little additional value, because they don’t have access to the shore lands.

  3. Trent June 12, 2019 at 4:44 am #

    It’s a nice reminder that the Mpls lakes area has developed in a more even manner than the far out suburbs. Yes there are some beautiful homes across the parkway from the lakes but public access to the lakes is preserved and uniform and the city/state make people pay richly for their views with property tax that exceeds the cumulative for some entire city blocks, or even a few blocks proximity. Very different situation than other lakes in the burbs.

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