Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

38th Street Station – Public Policy Victory

Dateline: 2:39 pm August 8, 2016 Filed under:

This is the third in a series of posts about development at 38th Street Station. The first presented the overall 38th Street Station vision, and the second looked how pedestrians get to the 38th Street station. We are aware of the City of Minneapolis policy and plan, completed in 2007 in cooperation with local neighborhood groups, for the area around the 38th Street station of the Blue Line, so this post considers how the 38th Street Station plan meets the transit-oriented development (TOD) policy goals of Met Transit.


The Metropolitan Council has a Transit Oriented Development Policy with four major goals:

  • Maximize the development impact of transit investments by integrating transportation, jobs and housing
  • Support regional economic competitiveness by leveraging private investment
  • Advance equity by improving multimodal access to opportunity for all
  • Support a 21st Century transportation system through increased ridership and revenues

Lander Group’s proposal for development at the 38th Street Station meets and improves upon current conditions for all of these policy points. Then again, some of these goals are broad and could be met by a number of different development proposals. So let’s try to quantify just how much benefit the Lander Group plan adds.

First, the 38th Street Station plan maximizes the development impacts by placing additional jobs and housing at the station area. Lander Group proposes more than 150 housing units within one block of the station, with some just steps from a bus stop or the train platform. This is closer than previously imagined and integrates transportation, jobs and housing in a creative and pedestrian-friendly way, replacing today’s pedestrian-hostile bus turnaround.

Second, this plan brings millions in new investment to the immediate station area, private investment that also increases property and sales tax revenues for the city. The plan creates a new street lined with development parcels that are presently part of the bus turnaround and generate no direct taxes. Without the creation of this street, there would be no new development parcels, and as a result no development proposal by Lander Group. The resulting public realm of the development will raise the bar for pedestrian-friendly transit-oriented development in the Twin Cities. The improved public realm, with new pedestrian-friendly streets and plazas, will likely leverage additional development in the station area, furthering the City and Met Council policy goals.

Third, this plan absolutely increases equity by adding close to 200 housing units (including the 3828 project) in the broader station area. Residents of these units will have excellent access to jobs and opportunity by rail, bus, car, bicycle, and on foot. Moreover, the vastly improved public space, focused on the new plaza, improves quality of life for all, and that is something that is hard to measure. As well, Lander Group also proposes up to 20% of units will be affordable to households earning moderate incomes, provided financing can be found.

Lastly, adding 200 units plus commercial space to the 38th Street Station area will undoubtedly increase ridership on the train and bus. It is estimated that approximately half of residents at new apartment projects near the Blue Line in south Minneapolis are regular transit riders, so by that metric ridership could increase by 100 or more rides per day. Harder to estimate is the potential increased ridership from existing area residents due to the improved attractiveness of the area. The added bonus is Lander Group proposes to lease land from Metro Transit for this development, providing additional revenue to the agency.

While the Met Council and Met Transit do not have official metrics to measure proposed developments, these are very good policies, and Lander Group’s plan would significantly advance all four goals. What’s more, the public spaces at and near the station will be more pleasant places to spend time – public spaces we not only share but also like. Creating high-quality, likable public spaces, while perhaps most difficult to quantify, may be the best policy of all.

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