2040 plan final draft sees varied responses

The Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan will affect University of Minnesota areas differently, prompting varied responses.

J.D. Duggan

The Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan will have an array of effects on zoning throughout the city, provoking a variety of responses in neighborhoods around the University of Minnesota.

The updated plan will guide the city’s development and zoning for the next two decades, following months of neighborhood and resident feedback. With the release of the final draft on Sept. 28, the Minneapolis City Council will submit the draft to the Metropolitan Council in December.

Notable changes from previous drafts include: limiting fourplex zoning to triplexes, limiting building height on main transit corridors and providing more clarity and specificity throughout the draft of the plan. Neighborhood organizations and residents near the University have continually expressed concern over the increased density laid out in the plan and lack of accessibility of the document.

Ward 2 City Council member Cam Gordon said the plan prepares for incoming population growth and seeks to reduce racial and economic disparities.

“I think there [are] some incredibly strong parts in the plan and there’s actually a much bolder, bigger vision … that we’re trying to grapple with this round,” Gordon said. 

The widely varied housing landscape surrounding the University has provoked an array of responses and concerns in the area.

Despite the move from fourplexes to triplexes, Southeast Como — which primarily consists of single-family homes — is rife with concerns about the density coming to their community.

Bill Dane, board member with Southeast Como Improvement Association, said the neighborhood and City are not yet sure how the increased density will impact the area. He said while the City aims to create a fair system by applying zoning regulations across Minneapolis, impacts will vary by neighborhood.

“A lot of it’s very concerning. I feel that … we’re just kind of guinea pigs,” Dane said.

Dane said some neighborhoods are better-equipped to handle the density, such as Prospect Park, which has spacious, undeveloped lots near the edge of the neighborhood.

Prospect Park worked with the City to add language that is relevant to its 370-acre “innovation district” and other similar areas throughout Minneapolis to the plan. The policy allows for flexible zoning within innovation districts, providing mixed-use space for residential and commercial purposes.

Vince Netz, president of Prospect Park Association, expressed concerns about lack of additional green space to accommodate heightened density. Future green spaces are addressed by the Minneapolis Park Board’s planning rather than the 2040 plan. 

He said this complexity between institutions has drawn confusion from some residents, and PPA wants communication between the City and Park Board.

The same concern is present for areas without transit infrastructure in place.

“This stuff is going to work OK in Prospect Park … because we have 3 light rail stations in our neighborhood,” Netz said. “The density that is being put into Dinkytown or Uptown is going in without that kind of transit availability. So that creates the parking and the traffic problems that people are afraid of.”