Local urban geographer Bill Lindeke does a nice job describing how a building boom finally came to fruition along the first light rail line in Minneapolis. When the Blue Line went in eighteen years ago, there were heightened expectations that new construction would line up along this aging railway corridor from downtown Minneapolis out to the airport. But it took time.
That was 18 years ago. And ever since, for the most part, the pace of transit-oriented development has seemed glacial. According to Metropolitan Council studies, more than 12,000 new apartments have been built along the Blue Line since its opening. But if you glance at a map, the vast majority of this construction has been downtown, or else subsidized in some way. For most interstitial stops along Hiawatha, south of downtown, there’s been very little new housing construction. Even the rosiest development booster would have to admit it’s been a slow climb.MinnPost
What I remember from selling single-family homes is there was an increased interest in those within a handful of blocks from a rail stop. The houses along there are modest for the most part, and the prices ran with the metro average, so younger people latched onto the opportunity for great access to downtown Minneapolis. No need to drive to work and pay exorbitant parking. No need to drive to your favorite ballgame or watering hole. Just hop on the rail line!
The premium in the sales prices of these homes could easily have been verified by anyone with an excel program. With proper splicing of access to various public amenities, regression analysis can parse down the amounts paid for all sorts of public amenities. Improved access to transit is certainly on most consumer’s minds. Still, the price push wasn’t enough for new construction.
“It really boils down to rent levels in every neighborhood,” Sweeney said. “Historically, rents in (Longfellow) were too low to justify much new construction. Few projects worked here (and so) while there were a few things built 10 years ago, you didn’t see a large boom. But area rents have grown, which allows new construction to be feasible.”
Sweeney is the developer who has put up two new apartment buildings along the Blue Line in recent years. Policymakers and pundits want to theorize about housing solutions, but people like Sweeney and the investors who support his group are the ones who have to be able to make the numbers work. A bonus for transit infrastucture is just one component of price.
Another valid issue discussed in the article is the various timeline for the pace or even appearance of new construction in older areas. The story tells of a tipping point for this neighborhood. Still to be discussed is a more thorough overview of the neighborhood components that green light building.