By the numbers: among U neighborhoods, Marcy-Holmes sees most development

At the neighborhood’s peak, Marcy-Holmes saw 358 new units of housing in 2016.

The Hub Minneapolis, which opened for tenants this summer, is seen near East Bank on Tuesday, Sept. 4. The building is 284 ft. tall.

Tony Saunders

The Hub Minneapolis, which opened for tenants this summer, is seen near East Bank on Tuesday, Sept. 4. The building is 284 ft. tall.

by Tiffany Bui

While many areas around the University of Minnesota have been a hotbed for new development, Marcy-Holmes has shouldered the majority of new construction compared to other neighborhoods around campus.

Other University-adjacent neighborhoods have seen a slower growth, but generally fall along a trend of increased density. Available space and developer interest have shaped the landscape of multifamily housing over the last ten years. 

From 2012 to 2017, five or more permits for multifamily housing developments were filed in Marcy-Holmes each year. Construction spiked in 2016 as the neighborhood saw 358 new housing units built, almost all of which came from developer Reuter Walton. Notable 2016 projects included Spectrum Apartments. 

The spike in housing and the resulting population increase has left Minneapolis’ oldest neighborhood scrambling to keep up. 

“It’s a rollercoaster ride,” said Bob Stableski, president of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association. “The neighborhood has not been against density. It’s a question of where it is, and how it’s built.”

Greater Dinkytown and areas near the Mississippi riverfront have been impacted the most, a growth driven largely by the market, said Stableski. 

With climbing undergraduate enrollment numbers at the University, “There are plenty of people who want to live in Greater Dinkytown, and there’s obviously enough people who are willing to do that at a high price,” said Stableski. “That’s market forces that are at work.”

Dealing with growth in Marcy-Holmes is a balancing act between high demand and retaining historic single-family homes. 

“What the neighborhood is doing is trying to get a balance between what the market push is and what we want to see to preserve the nature and livability of the neighborhood,” said Stableski. “There’s a tension in [it] that needs to be accepted.”

But developmental growth has its limits. While the deterioration of older homes provides opportunity for new apartments, Marcy-Holmes is running out of space, said Stableski. 

Not every neighborhood has attracted this level of interest from developers. 

Cedar-Riverside saw only three new multifamily construction projects emerge in the past decade. In a neighborhood full of affordable and government-subsidized housing, there is little vacant developable land left, said Tim Mungavan, executive director of the West Bank Community Development Corporation.

In Southeast Como, some property owners have responded to the heightened housing demand by converting single-family homes into duplexes and triplexes, an increase in density not necessarily reflected in the permit numbers. The neighborhood has seen 13 total new permits since 2008. 

Karl Smith, president of Southeast Como Improvement Association, said these higher-density homes are ideally oriented for working professionals and families, but many students end up taking them. 

“It’s a stability thing,” said Smith. “The turnover rate for students is pretty high. It’s kind of a pass through neighborhood, and with more and more of those kind of conversions, [it] makes the building quite expensive … a first-time homeowner wouldn’t be able to afford them.”