Near Northside Master Plan

Executive Summary

I. Introduction

In November 1998 the Near Northside Implementation Committee issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to select a lead developer to "assist in the creation of a mixed-use, mixed-income, high-amenity community on the near northside of Minneapolis".

In April 1999, the Near Northside Implementation Committee recommended McCormack Baron & Associates, in partnership with Legacy Management and Development Corporation, as lead developer and in July 1999 City Council approved a Master Planning Agreement. In a separate RFP process, the City of Minneapolis selected a team led by SRF Consulting Group, Inc. for design of open space and infrastructure for the site in August 1999. In September 1999 the two design teams came together to begin a six-month collaborative master planning effort, which included extensive community participation. The results of the master planning process are summarized in the following report. Other supporting documents to the Master Plan such as the Market Study, Minority/Women Business & Employment Participation Plan, Marketing Plan, and Operation and Management Strategy, are available as appendices to the document (see Appendix).

II. History of the Site

The Near Northside Master Plan site, located in the heart of the city and close to major transportation routes is located in the historical floodplain of Bassett Creek (see Figure 1). The site has seen many changes – from swampy creek bed, to downtown neighborhood, to the first public housing development in Minnesota.

Much of the site is located in a buried valley that was formed by glacial meltwaters and filled over time with unstable soils, including sands, silts, clays and organic material. At the time Minneapolis was established, Bassett Creek meandered through the area with tributary streams, spring-fed ponds, marshes, floodplain forests and meadows (see Figure 2). In the early decades of the 1900’s, the creek was routed underground while housing and commercial buildings were constructed on fill placed over the unstable soils. Many of the early houses were then razed in the 1930’s for multi-family developments that were acquired for public housing.

The Near Northside evolved early in the 1900’s as a relatively compact and cohesive neighborhood on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. The four public housing developments - Sumner Field Homes (constructed 1935), and Olson, Lyndale and Glenwood (all constructed in the late 1950’s) were developed within the traditional fabric of streets and land uses in the community. In the 1960’s, however, the blocks immediately west of Sumner Field were combined into a superblock, which now contains Bethune School and Park, Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, Cecil Newman Plaza apartments, Park View Apartments, Siyeza Corporation, and Fraser Head Start Center (see Figure 3).

In 1992, the public housing developments were the target of a 1992 lawsuit, Hollman vs. Cisneros. As part of the Hollman vs. Cisneros Consent Decree, the work of a community-based focus group in 1996 resulted in a set of recommendations for the site’s re-use. These recommendations were developed into an Action Plan, approved by the Minneapolis City Council in 1997 and clarified by the April 1998 Agreement Regarding Plaintiffs’ Objections to

Action Plan for Sumner-Glenwood Redevelopment that guides the newest transformation of this neighborhood. The Development Framework for the Near Northside area immediately surrounding the Action Plan site was approved by the City Council in September 1998.

III. The Planning Process

The 1997 Action Plan set goals for the transformation of the site into a stable, mixed-income neighborhood that would lessen the concentration of poverty, provide incentives for greater self-sufficiency of its low-income residents, and support the viability of this new neighborhood by connecting it in meaningful ways with the surrounding community (see Figure 29).

In this spirit, the design team, led by Urban Design Associates and SRF Consulting Group, Inc., using the design principles of the Action Plan, the neighborhood design principles and "New Urbanism", actively engaged the residents of public housing, the Northside community, civic and community leaders, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), Minneapolis Community Development Agency (MCDA), other local agencies and institutions, and local government leaders in the design process. A series of public meetings, individual working sessions with key groups and Implementation Committee meetings were held throughout the design process to ensure that the collected concerns and aspirations of all of these constituencies were addressed in the design process.

These ongoing sessions culminated in an intense, weeklong design workshop hosted by McCormack Baron/Legacy Management, the City of Minneapolis and the design teams that resulted in a preliminary Master Plan. This preliminary Master Plan was presented to over 200 people on December 11, 1999. Based on comments and feedback from the community, the Implementation Committee and the City of Minneapolis, the plan was refined and presented at a community meeting on January 27, 2000 to over 350 people. The Master Plan was presented to the City Council for adoption on March 24, 2000 and was unanimously approved with minor recommendations.

IV. Master Plan Concepts

The Near Northside Master Plan explores the creation of an attractive and sustainable urban neighborhood in the Near Northside, on the doorstep of Minneapolis’s downtown area. The goal of the plan is to rebuild a mixed-income, mixed-density, culturally diverse, amenity-rich neighborhood based on some of the best Minneapolis neighborhood traditions. By reconfiguring and reconnecting the streets, creating a network of traditional, residentially scaled blocks and neighborhood parks, the Master Plan connects this once isolated public housing development to the surrounding community and the larger city.

Within the Near Northside Master Plan there are three key design concepts. The first builds on the principles of providing a mix of housing types and designing for social integration. Cleared land on the Near Northside site will be replaced with a mix of garden style buildings, townhouses, duplex units, carriage houses and single-family homes. These units will provide both rental and for sale opportunities to residents at a variety of price points.

The proposed development includes 900 new mixed-income units built in the style of the Minneapolis neighborhood tradition and "New Urbanism". To be built in four phases, approximately 440 units are rental, 360 units are for home ownership, and 100 units are for elderly public housing residents. 200 of the rental units will be Hollman public housing replacement units. A mixed- income strategy will be used which incorporates the public housing into this revitalized community. The public housing units will be mixed within buildings with other low income and market rate rental households and the units will be indistinguishable from one another.

The second overall design concept is the creation of a street network that complements the park system and links the site to adjacent neighborhoods. Reconfigured streets create a network of traditional, residentially scaled blocks and neighborhood parks. The Master Plan also extends the street grid from the Oak Park area to the west of the site, through the Superblock, to link the site to the adjacent neighborhood. A new frontage road and community green will replace the existing twelve-foot high concrete wall along Lyndale Avenue and will act as a new front door to the Near Northside site. Olson Memorial Highway is also slated to receive a major facelift. The proposed reconfiguration, with design features drawn from Summit Avenue in St. Paul, will widen the median and add curvature to the roadway. The intent is to slow traffic, create a formal green gateway to downtown, and create an address for the neighborhood.

The third design concept creates a strong parks and open space system that provides linkages to adjacent amenities, creates quality housing addresses around an open space network, and designs for sustainability. A new north-south boulevard extends through the heart of the site and provides a focus for community activities. As the centerpiece of the master plan framework, the proposed boulevard creates a picturesque address for hundreds of mixed-income housing units and connects the Master Plan site south through Bassett Creek Valley to the Parade area and south Minneapolis. A pair of feature parks, one north and one south of Olson Highway, build on the boulevard framework and create more intimate neighborhood places. The new parkland will offer residents and visitors a diverse mix of active and passive recreational opportunities, from walking and biking trails to ponds, meadows and lawns.

Finally, amenities must be in place to attract and serve returning and new residents and visitors to the area. Many strong community assets and amenities already exist and can be built on. They include Sumner Library, the city and regional park system, the regional street network, the surrounding Harrison and Near North neighborhoods, proximity to downtown employment centers, International Market Square, neighborhood community centers, and a network of neighborhood schools. Proposed new amenities include new and enhanced parks with cultural and recreational activities, the north-south boulevard with water features and walking and biking trails, a relocated Summit Academy OIC, and a new multi-cultural center, which will house an interpretive center that captures the rich cultural history of the area. The Master Plan encourages the future development of new neighborhood retail along Glenwood Avenue at the southern edge of the Master Plan site, which would also be a tremendous resource for the entire community.

V. Implementation Process

Initial cost estimates for the proposed redevelopment total approximately $198 million in current dollars. The two largest items are housing and public improvements. Public improvements, which include streets, sidewalks, utilities, parks and the new north-south boulevard, are estimated at approximately $48.8 million and will be borne by the City of Minneapolis. The development budget for the 900 housing units is estimated at $123 million and includes the following sources of funding: private sector funding is estimated at $75.2 million (61.1%), $12.0 million will be a mix of public and private funds (9.7%), and the balance of $35.9 million (29.2%) will be from HUD development funds (Hollman settlement funds) or requested in HUD HOPE VI grant funds.

The Near Northside Revitalization Plan envisions four major phases of development as shown in Figure 89. The first two phases are planned to occur north of Olson Highway. The last two phases are planned south of Olson Highway. A six to eight year build-out is anticipated and is contingent upon the timing and availability of funding sources. Infrastructure work for the first phase is anticipated to begin in late 2000 with housing construction beginning in spring 2001.

Entire Plan (PDF, 12 MB, 139 pages)

Plan approved by the Minneapolis City Council in March 2000

May 25, 2004

Last updated Oct 25, 2011