Minneapolis NIMBYs Threatening What Makes The City Great

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
July 26 2013 9:51 AM

Minneapolis NIMBYs Threatening What Makes The City Great

dinkytown

You should move to Minneapolis for its combination of high wages and low housing costs. It also happens to be the lowest unemployment large metropolitan area in America, which is another great reason to move there. But Jay Walljasper in MinnPost.com reports on the city's difficulties marketing itself as a desirable destination.

Marketing is great, but I always look to fundamentals. For example, the last time I was in Minneapolis I had a good time hanging out at a couple of bars in Dinkytown. Dinkytown not only has a hilarious name but it's located adjacent to the University of Minnesota and across the river from downtown Minneapolis. That's a great location for an urban revival. Most people in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are going to want to live in the suburbs, which is where most people live in every American metropolitan area. But a thriving urban core is a great amenity for any metro area, and a centrallylocated neighborhood like Dinkytown should be at the thriving core of your thriving core. So it's no surprise that there's interest in doing things like building a new six-story mixed-use apartment and retail structure in Dinkytown. Sadly, though, the proposed building has been blocked by local NIMBY types.

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The Minneapolis area has great housing affordability compared to the major coastal metro areas since it's Midwestern location allows its suburbs to sprawl out and out quite easily. But Minnesota is very cold, and in the long term it's hard to see how Minneapolis is going to compete on the basis of pure sprawliness with, say, Dallas. There's no reason MSP should ever become a particularly dense city by global standards (plenty of cheap land around) but Minneapolis does have the bones for a dense urban core around the CBD and the university and that should be a source of advantage. But it only works if you let people move in!

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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