I live in the Northeast Park neighborhood in Minneapolis. I recently bought a house here, and I do not own a car. It is a personal goal of mine to remain car-free. It should be possible for anyone living in a large city to do so. Everyone should have easy, convenient access to what they need in life. For me, a few of these things are food, employment, and recreation.
Before moving to my home, I lived in downtown Minneapolis. I worked 15 minutes (walking) from where I lived. I lived less than a block away from a small-format grocery store. I could leave, grab groceries, and be back in my apartment within 10 minutes. I frequented Minneapolis’s gorgeous Mississippi riverfront and the fantastic restaurants minutes away.
My new home is just south of 18th Ave NE Central Avenue NE. It’s in a large R2B (up to 3 family residential) primary zoning district, and it’s in an Interior 2 built form overlay district. All primary residential zoning (R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6) does not allow for most commercial uses. Small corner stores and restaurants are banned. 18th Avenue NE is sandwiched between Central Ave NE and Johnson St NE. The popular Sociable Cider Werks brewery is right there, and 18th Avenue’s Great Northern Greenway runs parallel to it.
Photo of the 18th Avenue NE “Great Northern Greenway” facing Central Avenue. Photo by Zachary Wajda.
18th Avenue NE is an ideal location for small shops and services. People that live there should be able to legally run a business out of their home to take advantage of the great greenway and transit access. 18th Ave is a prime example of why these types of small businesses should be allowed within Urban Neighborhood zoning. Will the new zoning code allow these small businesses here? Or will they be limited to existing corridors? If the city wants complete neighborhoods, called for in Minneapolis 2040, it must legalize the uses people need in every corner of the city.
To be clear, I am not advocating for strip malls or big box stores in the neighborhoods of Minneapolis. We already have many examples of small businesses that are tucked into neighborhoods. I’m not advocating to rezone 18th Avenue. I want the city to consider the uses that are allowed in the new “Urban Neighborhood” primary districts. Part of what makes a neighborhood a neighborhood is a sense of community. A sense of community is built in local shops, meeting spots, hangouts, and recreational areas. Should swaths of our city mandate more than a 10 minute walk to the nearest hypothetical legal corner store?
I call on Minneapolis to expand the uses allowed in residential areas to include the basics of a complete, walkable neighborhood. Allow homeowners to run businesses out of their homes. Allow small, every-day retail, like grocery stores, hairdressers, and dentists in our neighborhoods.
Neighbors for More Neighbors is once again organizing to ensure the adopted zoning changes live up the the promises made in the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan.
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What can you do to support complete neighborhoods in Minneapolis?
- Take our complete neighborhoods survey!
- Volunteer with our Minneapolis 2040 implementation task force!
- Support 8 volunteer leaders on advocacy (email email@example.com with “2040 task force” in the subject line to learn more)
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- Talk with your neighbors and friends about what complete neighborhoods are and why they matter to you.
- Sign up for the N4MN newsletter and look out for action alerts from the task force – they may include attending community meetings, testifying at hearings, or sending emails.
Written By Zachary Wajda, a N4MN Volunteer