TOD Toolkit: Hiawatha Corridor
What is the Hiawatha Corridor?
The Hiawatha Line connects a number of important regional employment, recreational
and retail destinations. It reintroduced rail transit to the Twin Cities region and initiated
an ongoing regional process of building fixed-guideway transit. Transit expansion plans
have been spurred by the strong performance of the Hiawatha Line and rising regional
housing costs. The corridor has already seen more redevelopment than anticipated. While
the activity has largely focused on the Downtown Minneapolis, other neighborhood
station areas are also seeing new development.
Large areas of civic uses and single-family residential neighborhoods somewhat limit the
corridor’s development potential. The City of Minneapolis has engaged the community
in a series of station area planning and rezoning efforts for the six neighborhood station
areas, hoping to use this process to improve local zoning and support for transit-oriented
development, and also to respond to neighborhood concerns regarding the future
development vision for these emerging transit zones.
Land Use Patterns
A variety of distinct land use patterns are included in the half mile radii surrounding
the stations on the Hiawatha Corridor. The four downtown station areas contain
higher-intensity commercial, civic, residential, and mixed-uses, along with parking
lots and some industry. The three stations just southeast of Downtown across
I-35W/I-94—Cedar/Riverside, Franklin Avenue and Lake Street—contain a mix
of existing development types. All three station areas contain a significant amount
of existing highway infrastructure and a mix of industrial, commercial, and civic
uses. Surrounding the stations are residential areas of attached and single-family
homes scattered with some commercial and industrial uses. The next two stations
are predominantly single-family residential neighborhoods built on a historic grid
Moving further south, the 50th Street/Minnehaha Park and VA Medical Center
stations are approximately half built-out single-family neighborhoods and half civic
uses, including a national park and major medical center. The next three stations
are either within the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or are surrounded
by uses supporting the airport. The final three stations are within the City of
Bloomington, and contain primarily large-scale retail, office, and light industrial
uses, including the Mall of America.
Over half of the total land uses in the corridor are classified as “civic” and range
from government buildings to state university properties, federal facilities, parks
and the airport. While many of these are important regional destinations, many are
permanent and may provide little opportunity for transformation.
Identifying those that may be within control of the local governments and desirable
for redevelopment could be an important step in determining potential sites for
targeting mixed-income developments.
Development in the Corridor
11,931 housing units and 1,054,436 square feet of commercial
space have been built, are under construction, planned or proposed
within a half mile of the 17 stations, and 7,000 units of housing
have already been either proposed or built within a half mile of the
Hiawatha Line since 2000.
In the last five years, downtown Minneapolis has seen significant new
or converted higher-density housing. In particular, the Warehouse
District,which contains a number of obsolete industrial buildings prime
for conversion, has seen a large number of new residential or mixed-
use development projects. The growing market for more compact
properties available for conversion and the introduction of light rail
have already catalyzed the redevelopment of a mixed-use, higher-
density, transit-supportive downtown.
The TOD housing boom in Minneapolis has exceeded all expectations.
A market study completed for the city in 1999 had projected there
would be a demand for 7,150 housing units near transit by 2020.
The city estimates that the number of units either proposed, under
construction or built already exceed that number—including 5,000
units in the booming downtown market and another 2,000 from
Cedar Riverside to Bloomington.
Station Example: Bloomington Station Example: High Lake
Bloomington Central Located roughly mid-point on the Hiawatha line, the
Station is a high-density High Lake station area was divided by transportation
mixed use development infrastructure, with a number of large underutilized
focused around the sites. The majority of households are low-income
Bloomington Light (median income in 1999 of only $23,342) and transit-
Rail. It is part of an dependent.
overall station area plan Available sites are being bought up by speculators or
that will create a regional employment developers building small projects that are not making
center around the LRT station. The highest and best use of property near the station. While
development, a partnership between plans for improved connections are moving forward,
McGough Development and Health better coordination during the initial planning and
Partners, is a 5-phase, $730 million, design phases would
43 acre site that will eventually bring have ensured critical
1100 housing units, 7,000 new jobs, development.
two million square feet of office space,
and 75,000 square feet of retail to the
area, all accessible through transit. Full
build-out is expected between 2015