A Revitalized Program to Address the Untapped North Minneapolis Housing Market

One of our wonderful Minneapolis real estate agents here in the EXIT Realty Upper Midwest region had an opportunity to attend a listening sessions held by the city of Minneapolis development council.  Liz Maki is a Commercial/Residential Real Estate agent out of our EXIT Realty Metro office.

On Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), opened it’s doors to host the City of Minneapolis’ Infill Housing Strategy Builder and Developer Listening Session. The listening forum set out to open up dialogue between the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development, and local home builders/developers regarding the available 400+ vacant lots located in North Minneapolis neighborhoods along with the soon-to-be-released list of vacant buildings residing in the same geographic area. The presenting City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development representative, Roxanne Young Kimball, detailed the city’s new incentivized vacant lot and vacant building program. The City of Minneapolis is hoping the needs-based assistance portion of the program will help entice qualified buyers to work with local neighborhood developers/remodelers to purchase vacant lots/buildings. They believe the dollar incentives offered to qualified builders/developers will move the interest of local, experienced new construction and remodeling firms to work in conjunction with buyers who are interested in living in North Minneapolis neighborhoods.

The new construction/remodeled properties, utilizing the program’s affordability gap incentive of up to $25,000, would remain under the City of Minneapolis’ Long Term Affordability model-renewable upon each sale-meaning the property would remain affordable, under the program's definition, for 30 years. Developers would have the opportunity to qualify for up to $70,000 in development assistance money to stimulate high-quality new construction homes for low to moderate income buyers. In addition, buyers of these properties would also qualify for $5,000 in homebuyer assistance.

The City of Minneapolis is currently looking for RFPs from developers that will offer a cost-efficient product, racial equality in the qualified buyer pool, bring a positive neighborhood impact, and that includes the particular design features (green build, ADA, and multigenerational options) the city is looking for. The City is highly interested in RFPs that would address entire residential city blocks that could be rebuilt as a cohesively designed neighborhood enclave. Commercial development in North Minneapolis was touched on briefly but the City response was that the infill of commercial opportunities would come at a later meeting.

The City of Minneapolis held a second presentation of the program at the Minneapolis Urban League office on February 10th, 2017 where the public, along with real estate agents, representatives from local nonprofits, and members of neighborhood organizations were invited to comment on the program and offer suggestions to the outstanding questions regarding how to get the information to the target markets, etc. The City of Minneapolis was clear this is an ongoing conversation and the program will be fluid as it moves forward.  

My optimism remains high. As an agent/developer that has been active in the Minneapolis Northside redevelopment opportunities of the past, I know firsthand the pitfalls of a standardized program that does not address the actual long-term affordability of the properties Minneapolis wishes to be redeveloped and built upon. I am hoping the presentation on February 8th was a learning and listening opportunity for all participants, both the City of Minneapolis and the audience members, to learn from the mistakes of the past and offer a new and well-thought out plan to level the playing field to build a self-sufficient, inspiring neighborhood for its Northside residents.

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