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Twin Cities

Minneapolis LRT At Heart Of Mississippi Riverfront

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Here's an interesting article pertaining to some development that has been generated along the Hiawatha line.

stonearch-plaza.jpg

The arches of the Downtown East/Metrodome Station are in the lower middle/left of this aerial photo.

The Stone Arch Bridge that spans the river is in the upper right corner.

Light-rail transit is a gateway to an exciting revival of the Mississippi Riverfront in downtown Minneapolis. The arches of the Downtown East/Metrodome LRT Station are a football throw from the Metrodome. They echo the Stone Arch Bridge, which is only four blocks away spanning the river.

The Hiawatha project has partnered with the city to ensure that this station fulfills its potential. For example, the city contributed funds to construct the arches as a bold welcome to its downtown. Other city investments were made to spur development, which will generate train riders.

The old flour mill district has been restored with new upscale housing between the river and Washington Avenue. Along the downtown riverfront, 330 homes have been built since year 2000, and 745 more homes are in the development pipeline. Townhouses in the new Metropolitan Lofts are nearly sold out at $400,000 each. Buyers say they want to break their auto dependency and return to a vibrant, cosmopolitan lifestyle.

New housing, entertainment venues and office buildings are all within walking distance of the Downtown East/Metrodome light-rail station

New entertainment venues also are taking root within walking distance of the station. This September, ground was broken for a new Guthrie Theater, and the Mill City Museum opened. An indoor figure skating arena, restaurant and hotel are now housed in the 1899-built Milwaukee Depot.

The light-rail station is constructed to tie directly into new development. The Minneapolis Community Development Agency has built a 467-stall underground parking ramp beneath the station block with potential to support a six-to-eight story, 240,000-square-foot office/commercial tower on the northwest half of the block. Walkup retail at the base of the tower could serve transit customers as well as tower occupants. Development on the station block is projected to attract $38 million in private investment, generating $1.4 million in annual property tax revenue.

Light rail also has jump-started development along the residential segment of the Hiawatha Corridor between the Cedar Riverside and V. A. Medical Center stations. More than 1,000 new housing units are in the pipeline since year 2000. Names of these developments reflect light rail's impact: Hiawatha Commons, Hiawatha Court, Hiawatha Oaks Station, and Hiawatha Square.

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It's amazing the way transit spurs development. Boston has new BRT service running through the South End (the so-called SoWa neighbourhood). The South End is famous as one of Boston's best neighbourhoods, but south of Washington has been stubbornly downtrodden. Now there is a flood of development in the area just because a new bus line came through.

ETA: Ohmigawd! Killer avatar! :lol:

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This is great for Minneapolis. It's always amazing to me how quickly land along transit lines is bought up & developed so quickly.

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I'm not sure how much of the riverfront residential is directly related to the LRT. It seems that new residential has been going on in downtown Minneapolis for years now, with most of the new riverfront construction taking place in that area along the river side of the warehouse district, around north 1st street--a good way from the LRT line. The flour mill area would have been renovated with or without LRT.

I also don't think the Guthrie Theater's new digs are related at all to the LRT. The Mill Museum, and the Milwaukee Road, as well would have all happened without LRT IMHO.

I think downtown Minneapolis has just been experiencing tremendous growth, and the LRT is just another part of it, not the cause, although LRT will certainly complement the growth.

Clearly, though, areas further out along Hiawatha owe their redevelopment to the LRT.

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