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Old 04-30-2012, 09:23 PM
 
319 posts, read 503,769 times
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No love for the heart of the city | StarTribune.com

Quote:
There's little disagreement among planners and developers that concentrated poverty and its associated social problems (failing schools, crime, etc.) discourages infill growth and investment and makes suburban choices more attractive.

Experts offer a list of other hurdles that Minneapolis and St. Paul must overcome to attract growth: an overly cautious banker/developer community; layers of bureaucracy (especially in Minneapolis) that make infill development harder than it should be; substantially higher property taxes; a Midwestern culture that favors a small-town atmosphere in cities; an alluring suburban landscape, especially in the west metro and St. Croix Valley; a split central city (two downtowns, two city halls) less able to achieve political clout, and a metro government unwilling or unable to curb sprawl.
The concetration of poverty in specific areas of Minneapolis is an important part of the problem. That and the results of highly fractured political institutions diffusing power, especially between the two core cities, and the suburban culture that dominates much of the metro, is why Portalnd et al keep pulling ahead.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:54 PM
 
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A very interesting article. I enjoy Steve Berg's writing and I missed when he stopped his column on MinnPost.

I think the big problem for Minneapolis and St. Paul is that they have fairly small attractive areas for families. Someone in the suburbs who wants to move in while maintaining QOL similar to the 'burbs is probably only going to see places like Southwest Minneapolis or areas like Highland Park as attractive. It's not that there aren't other places, but they just don't get the same boost. Because of that, you have a lot of single people moving into the city who have embraced density, but don't bring much for numbers overall in a given area. After all, a single person living alone requires an apartment with presumably a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom (unless it's a studio). A small family, on the other hand, requires maybe only one extra bedroom, but packs more people in. They bring considerably more population for the potential space they could occupy.

If I were looking to increase population, I'd focus on the schools and getting test scores up pronto. Those things sell schools...and then get cracking on making development easier and promoting density with good transportation options.
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:11 AM
 
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Minneapolis and St. Paul are also relatively small, in terms of square miles, compared to many other cities, so that's also going to limit the population growth right there. Even combined, they are much smaller than Portland, Seattle, and Denver (the three other cities described in the article). A larger percentage of the metro area population lives in suburbs here compared to some other big cities.

I also think that a lot of people want to live in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but also want to have a house, yard, and relatively low density, and because they can have those things in those cities, they choose to live there instead of the suburbs. I'm not sure that all that many people want to raise families in condos or apartments, though obviously people do, and some do so by choice.
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Cleveland bound with MPLS in the rear-view
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I saw this article and commented there as well, but I think their takeaways they listed to solve the problem were essentially spot on! I think the most important ones are:

1. breaking down development barriers and fostering synergy between developer and residents
2. invest in and redevelop low/middle income neighborhoods, esp. in the North/Northeast sides where population is falling
3. market the city/metro much better than before, and get the word out there about the Twin Cities (the perception sucks...if only people really knew!)
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Cleveland bound with MPLS in the rear-view
5,530 posts, read 11,262,831 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xandrex View Post
A very interesting article. I enjoy Steve Berg's writing and I missed when he stopped his column on MinnPost.

I think the big problem for Minneapolis and St. Paul is that they have fairly small attractive areas for families. Someone in the suburbs who wants to move in while maintaining QOL similar to the 'burbs is probably only going to see places like Southwest Minneapolis or areas like Highland Park as attractive. It's not that there aren't other places, but they just don't get the same boost. Because of that, you have a lot of single people moving into the city who have embraced density, but don't bring much for numbers overall in a given area. After all, a single person living alone requires an apartment with presumably a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom (unless it's a studio). A small family, on the other hand, requires maybe only one extra bedroom, but packs more people in. They bring considerably more population for the potential space they could occupy.

If I were looking to increase population, I'd focus on the schools and getting test scores up pronto. Those things sell schools...and then get cracking on making development easier and promoting density with good transportation options.
I agree (to an extent).....make the city more attractive for working families and you'll see all kinds of benefits, starting with safer neighborhoods and increased population. It starts by making the schools better, which I also think makes the community overall better in almost every possible way. I'd pay double the taxes if we could "buy" great schools in the city!
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Cleveland bound with MPLS in the rear-view
5,530 posts, read 11,262,831 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuietBlue View Post
Minneapolis and St. Paul are also relatively small, in terms of square miles, compared to many other cities, so that's also going to limit the population growth right there. Even combined, they are much smaller than Portland, Seattle, and Denver (the three other cities described in the article). A larger percentage of the metro area population lives in suburbs here compared to some other big cities.

I also think that a lot of people want to live in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but also want to have a house, yard, and relatively low density, and because they can have those things in those cities, they choose to live there instead of the suburbs. I'm not sure that all that many people want to raise families in condos or apartments, though obviously people do, and some do so by choice.
That's another good point: you can't foster higher density when it's CHEAP to build with low density. Tax densities lower than 0.25 acres/lot for SFHs and create other building codes that promote density and infill (not sprawl), especially along major transit corridors. If land prices were as expensive and Portland and Seattle, you would NOT be seeing huge lots on twisting cul-de-sacs!
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by west336 View Post
That's another good point: you can't foster higher density when it's CHEAP to build with low density. Tax densities lower than 0.25 acres/lot for SFHs and create other building codes that promote density and infill (not sprawl), especially along major transit corridors. If land prices were as expensive and Portland and Seattle, you would NOT be seeing huge lots on twisting cul-de-sacs!
Yep. Oceans + mountains = high density becomes a necessity. Since the only geographical limitations we have are the rivers, it's easy to just go out in any direction until you can build at the low density you want.
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:33 PM
HKB
 
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Comparing Portland, Seattle, and Denver to MSP isn't a fair comparison. As others have pointed out, our metro area is divided into two distinct cities competing against each other. Each city has their own government and agendas, making it hard to coordinate a common goal.

Geography is another big factor. Let's face it... those other 3 cities have more natural beauty (oceans or mountains) and milder climates, which attract young, educated Urbanites. Yes, Denver gets snow and can get cold, but winter isn't as long and harsh as it is here. MSP is also alone in that we are not restricted by geographic barriers like those other cities are. Supply and demand. There is a reason places like Seattle and San Francisco are expensive. There is literally no land available for suburbs to grow.
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:16 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis
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One thing I've noticed about living here is that people in the Twin Cities always use the elite cities as the measuring stick. This is true of everything, not just urbanism. I think this tendency is part of what makes this place acheive, because people here have very high aspirations and expectations. On the other hand it can be annoying at times because it makes people downplay the quality of what we have. It is a sort of civic insecurity. For example on a foodie website I go to you will sometimes see a lament that goes like this - "New York has better bagels, Paris has better croissants, Rome has better Italian food, Saigon has better Vietnamese, therefore we suck". This perfectionist mentality runs deeply in the culture of the region.

It would be nice if every once in a while we could compare ourselves to crappy cities like Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Detroit, Phoenix, Orlando, Dallas, Baltimore, etc so we could allow ourselves a moment of satisfaction for the good things we have.

That said I understand that Berg is writing agitprop here and I support the goals he is articulating.

Last edited by Drewcifer; 05-02-2012 at 10:32 PM..
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:07 PM
 
319 posts, read 503,769 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuietBlue View Post
Minneapolis and St. Paul are also relatively small, in terms of square miles, compared to many other cities, so that's also going to limit the population growth right there. Even combined, they are much smaller than Portland, Seattle, and Denver (the three other cities described in the article).
That's not true. Populations (from wikipedia):

Portland: 583,776
Denver: 619,968
Minneapolis: 382,578
St. Paul: 285,068
Minneapolis + St. Paul combined: 667,646

So, the population of the core cities is higher in MSP than Portland and Denver. The problem is that population is geographically diffused between the two cities, with the underlying institutions also diffused between them in such a way that not only causes them not to work together, but to actually work against each other in many ways. A solution often touted by those who recognize this is to give the MetCouncil more power/control. I worry about that also giving power to the many suburbs that dominate the metro. If the two city halls were merged in Minneapolis and St. Paul, that would go a lot further to optimizing functioning of institutions in the core cities.

The lack of topographical constraints certainly affects the economics and incentives leading to sprawl etc. But that has nothing to do with the lack of any policies designed to address those issues. For Pete's sake, partisan BS is threatening to leave the SW Light Rail out of the bonding bill. Those types of policies will allow Denver to catch up with and Portland to keep pulling ahead of Minneapolis as an attractive city to the young and successful, the creative class, and the others people and groups that a city needs to attract to remain successful.

I think Portland and Denver are very appropriate comparisons. Similar populations if you look at the core cities (so combining the populations of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but if you think that's inappropriate, then you're obviously going to differ) and, to speak in broad strokes, Portland is typically heralded as the example of a city of this size making all the right moves regarding mass transit, containing sprawl, livability etc. whereas Denver only recently began doing much on that front, with Minneapolis somewhere in-between. Denver's recent improvements have allowed them to catch up a bit, while Minneapolis's inconsistency has allowed Portland to pull further ahead.

And I agree that working to get more families living in the city will be a huge benefit. Thankfully, at least the talk from the powers that be is encouraging on this front. I'm glad a focus on families is a big part of the goal to double the downtown population in Minneapolis.
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