Central Ave NE. Bordering Northeast Minneapolis’ Art District, a neighbor to St. Anthony Main, and home to delicious ethnic restaurants such as Holy Land, Sen Yai Sen Lek, El Taco Riendo, Adelita’s Mexican Restaurant and numerous bakeries and cafes (Diamonds Coffee Shoppee, a personal favorite), Central Ave is capturing more and more investment attention.
Most metro residents and RE professionals are aware, once a working-class neighborhood “Nordeast” has recently seen an influx of young professionals and artists. The demographic shift combined with revitalization efforts, has resulted in a resurgence of both commercial space and a thriving artistic community.
In considering commercial development on Central, traffic counts are attractive ranging between 18,000-20,000 vehicles per day. The City recently renovated the local library, and is currently rehabbing Central Avenue’s median. Several Northeast agencies are also combining forces to install artwork along this important corridor.
700 Central Ave Mixed Use Development, photo source: Java Properties
Following these and other like initiatives and perhaps following the influx of new blood in the Northeast community, there are some very exciting new development projects including the redevelopment of blighted buildings and luxury-slash-low income artist live work spaces. From for-profit neighborhood cooperatives, to commercial developers, to non-profits, investors are working on an array of projects ultimately enhancing and maybe even redefining the corridor.
One such active investment group includes the Northeast Investment Cooperative (NEIC), a for-profit coop working to convert vacant spaces into neighborhood businesses. The cooperative, made up of neighboring residents, aims to collectively buy, rehab and manage commercial space along Central. Its members are also considering working to serve an “incubator for small businesses” to help small business along the corridor succeed.
In Minneapolis, rentals are hot – so hot that an estimated 850 units are planned to come online within the next year or so, and that’s just in the North Loop. Residents of the North Loop are enthused that the vision for the Twinsville neighborhood is finally taking shape, and it’s only the beginning. Some North Loopers hope that the surge in housing and retail growth will help spark interest in building a new Vikings stadium in the lower North Loop on the current farmer’s market site.
“People who live in the North Loop are self-selected Pioneers,” states David Frank, President of the North Loop Neighborhood Association. “If you’re someone who has selected to live in an urban environment with loading docks and industrial buildings, you want things to happen and are comfortable with change. It’s a lot less clear what will happen with development in the neighborhood than if you live in a single family home in South Minneapolis. My family and I are proud that we have chosen to live in the North Loop and to invest in making our neighborhood better.”
Frank explains that overall, the North Loop neighborhood has been supportive of new housing developments, especially proposed plans that contribute to establishing the North Loop as a pedestrian-friendly urban environment. However, more affordable housing options continue to be an important objective and developers so far have not been stepping up to the plate. Frank fears that if not enough affordable housing is built initially, the North Loop will become “a gated community” privy only to middle to high income earners.
Currently proposed developments include Ryan Companies’ 7-story, mixed use, 280-unit apartment building at the former Jaguar dealership site at 222 Hennepin Avenue. Rumor has it that Whole Foods will anchor the project. On Washington Avenue adjacent to Union Plaza, Hines Interests is pitching a three-phase development on the six acre site that will eventually incorporate several types of housing, retail, and offices. The project will be launched with a 185-unit high-end apartment building called Dock Street Apartments.