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Downtown East / North Loop Master Plan

Chapter Seven: Phasing and Implementation Plan

Chapter Seven deals with the initiatives and priorities needed for achieving the sort of physical development called for throughout the master plan. This chapter assumes that new development within the Project Area will be based on the recommendations made throughout the document concerning both revisions to the physical environment, as well as revisions to the City’s regulatory framework. The intention of this chapter is to establish a baseline of information from which the City, developers, neighborhoods, and communities can begin to understand, discuss, and participate in how Complete Communities unfold in Downtown East and the North Loop. In short, it considers the issue of how and when the vision called for in previous chapters of this document might be implemented into the physical environment of the Project Area.


The first section of Chapter Seven is intended to help the City establish priorities for moving forward with enhancements to the public realm and infrastructure. The second section of the chapter is intended to help the development community understand the potential that lies within the Project Area. By drawing on information derived from the market analysis (see Chapter Three, it lays out the key development objectives and projects that will be necessary to implement the vision called for in the master plan. Additionally, it describes individual springboard projects that are intended to demonstrate applications of the plan principles in selected locations throughout the Project Area.


Implementation Objective: In order to encourage a diverse mixed-use area with buildings that contain commercial, residential, recreational and institutional uses throughout the Project Area, the City of Minneapolis will need to draw on its relationships with its intergovernmental partners and the development community to undertake a series of both large and small infrastructure improvement projects. The principal objective is to attract new investment, promote construction of Complete Communities, and make more efficient use of downtown land and infrastructure.

Infrastructure Investments in Downtown East:

Infrastructure Investments in the 5th Street Spine and the Downtown Core:

Infrastructure Investments in the North Loop:

Though it is important for the public sector to take the lead in making the necessary infrastructure investments, obviously it is not possible to implement all of these enhancements at once. These projects will need to be prioritized to be in tune with the development market and policy decisions about where growth and change should be encouraged first (see Figure 7.1). Three phases of development are suggested:

Near-Term: Projects that ought to be implemented so that they are operational as soon as or as soon as possible after the Hiawatha LRT line opens (within 5 years).

Mid-Term: Projects that ought to be implemented in conjunction with development that is likely to occur in the decade after the Hiawatha LRT lines opens. These projects should be considered in conjunction with the construction and opening of the NorthStar Commuter Rail Line to St. Cloud and/or the Central Corridor LRT line to Downtown Saint Paul (within 15 years).

Long-Term: Projects that ought to be implemented in conjunction with development likely to occur more than decade after the initiation of rail transit in Downtown Minneapolis. These projects should be considered in conjunction with the construction and opening of the Red Rock Commuter Rail Line to Hastings, the Dan Patch Commuter Rail Line to Northfield and/or the Southwest Corridor LRT line to the southwest suburbs (within 25 years).


Implementation Objectives: Minneapolis should encourage a diverse mixed-use area with buildings that contain commercial, residential, recreational and institutional uses throughout the Project Area. The principal objective is to attract new investment, promote construction of Complete Communities, and make more efficient use of downtown land and infrastructure.

Priorities for Property Development Priorities in Downtown East:

Priorities for Property Development in the 5th Street Spine and the Downtown Core:

Priorities for Property Development in the North Loop:

Developable Sites

The Market Analysis (Chapter Three) projected significant development in downtown Minneapolis over the next twenty-plus years, suggesting that the downtown will increase by some 25 million square feet over that period. This figure represents a combination of office / commercial, retail, residential and hotel / lodging development.

A priority of Chapter Seven is to ensure that the Recommended Land Use Plan (Chapter Four) is capable of accommodating development densities that approach the 25 million square feet supported by market projections, as well as any additional development resulting from policy intervention. One such intervention concerns downtown housing.

While the Market Analysis proposes a potential for up to 5,000 new residential units over the next two decades, the master plan suggests a need for more downtown housing in order to achieve the critical mass required to nurture Complete Communities. Therefore, this report recommends that the housing projection for the Project Area be doubled to 10,000 new residential units over the next twenty-plus years. At an average size of 1,000 gross square feet per dwelling unit, this equates to five million new square feet of residential development, bringing the estimated total for new growth in the Project Area to 30 million gross square feet (see Figure 7.2)

The project development in the Project Area matrix (see Figure 7.3) and the Developable Sites Map (see Figure 7.4), illustrate the relative potential of various sites within the Project Area for redevelopment over the next twenty years. Each site is categorized in one of five different ways. For example, "Open Site Development" refers to an empty site requiring no demolition. "Cleared Site Development" refers to a site with existing buildings that are not identified as having historic or architectural merit; such buildings are likely candidates for demolition given the pressure that might be expected from the market place. These sites vary in size and configuration depending upon available land and the location of adjacent preservable / reusable buildings. The Developable Sites Map also illustrates "Designated Historic Buildings" and "Historic Buildings that may have potential for designation," the latter being buildings not officially designated as historic, but worth retaining for their potential historic, architectural or community value.

Preservation of Remaining Historic Fabric

Although there are a significant number of protected buildings within the Project Area, even a casual look around many portions of Downtown East and the North Loop indicates that too many of the City’s historic downtown buildings have been demolished. Many such buildings likely possessed both pedestrian-friendly scale and special attention to architectural detail. Wherever possible, as many existing older buildings as possible should be retained through historic designation. Though many of these buildings are not necessarily the finest representations of a particular architectural style, their existence lends character to Downtown because they are remnants of the City’s past fabric.

A number of pre-1945 downtown buildings within the Project Area are suggested for further consideration as sites for potential historic designation (see Figure 7.5). It may be wise for the City to consider instituting an intermediate sort of designation that encourages a building’s preservation and reuse based not on its individual appeal, but on its contribution to maintaining a downtown that is rich with "layers" of history.

It is important to note that not specifically listing a building for possible preservation does not mean that a building is recommended for demolition. Rather, it means that there is little reason at this time, based on preliminary review, to restrict an owner’s right to demolish a building for the purposes of redevelopment.


The following pages present a series of springboard projects, which represent a cross-section of development precincts and illustrate the range of building development types contemplated for the Project Area, these include Class-A office, mixed-use office, mixed-use residential, infill retail, historic residential, and transit-related facilities, such as the multi-modal station. While the market place will ultimately determine when development on individual projects can take place, it is important to begin envisioning just how the principles and recommendations of the plan could be applied in selected locations.

The sites and locations for these projects were picked on a semi-random basis. It is in no way clear that these are the sites that will without a doubt see development first. Nonetheless, these sites were chosen in order to assemble a collection of "demonstration" projects, each of which might act as a catalyst for further growth and for filling out the development precinct in which it is located. It is hoped that these illustrations will serve as useful tools for encouraging the development community to move beyond the kind of projects that have come to typify traditional development patterns in Minneapolis and move closer towards the kind of projects expressed and envisioned throughout the master plan (see Figure 7.6).

Recommendations for Potential Springboard Projects

Each springboard project is submitted to help paint a tangible picture that can be used as a basis for discussion between the City, landowners, developers, lending agencies, and neighborhood and community groups. It is suggested that the City of Minneapolis encourage the development community to use and draw upon the Potential Springboard Projects as illustrative examples of what might be and where to begin shaping Complete Communities in Downtown East and the North Loop.

Springboard Project A

Springboard Project B

Springboard Project C

Springboard Project D

Springboard Project E

Springboard Project F

Springboard Project G

Springboard Project H

Springboard Project I

Springboard Project J

Last updated Nov 3, 2016



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