Land Use Highlight – 48th and Chicago

This article is a part of the Neighbors for More Neighbors (N4MN) ongoing discussion around the current zoning changes due to the 2040 Plan implementation and our advocacy to allow More Uses in More Places in support of complete neighborhoods.

46th and Clinton Ave Looking towards the Orange Line and Corridor 6 Built Form zoning on the first snow of the year. Photo taken by Brit Anbacht.

I live near the corner of 4th avenue and 46th street. I like my area. It’s close to the creek, and I have good access to the number 11 bus, the 46, and the Orange line. We have a two year old who is OBSESSED with wheels of all types. Anything that spins is fascinating. Including car tires. 

46th and Clinton looking towards the Winner Gas station at 4th ave. Photo taken by Brit Anbacht.

From my house, the closest place to get a gallon of milk is the 46th street gas station, about a 3 minute walk. It requires crossing 46th just before where people are trying to get onto the highway. Very simple and easy to do, but stressful with a two-year-old. It’s definitely challenging if I need to carry them and the gallon of milk at the same time so they don’t run into the street. Which is fine, because it’s only 3 minutes.

I like that there are two parks relatively nearby. McRae Park is a twelve minute walk and is also close to the businesses at 48th and Chicago. However, to get there I have to cross about 7 streets, and as many alleys. Including the unusually wide Park and Portland, with many drivers  not paying attention to pedestrians or cyclists. Which can be very scary when walking with our toddler!

46th and Chicago Bus Stop across from McRae Park. Home of the new D line!

When I visit the node at 48th and Chicago I can cash a check at the bank, or get a haircut at the barber, drop my kid off at a daycare, exercise at the sword club, or get a flu shot at the doctor’s clinic. That’s because 48th and Chicago is zoned as “corridor mixed use” which allows for commercial uses. It seems zoned this way to recognize business remnants from the 1910s-1950s streetcar era, when businesses popped up around transfer stops.

The nearest place to get more groceries is 1.3 miles away, or a 30 minute walk over to the Lunds and Byerlys at Cedar and 47th, or up to the Friendship Store Seward Co-op, a 1.1 mile walk up to 38th street and 4th ave. Both of these are relatively expensive options, so I usually drive down to the Cub. That’s 2 miles away (a 40 min walk) along the very busy Nicollet where I do not feel safe biking. 

This is why I care about zoning. Because zoning determines where it is possible to get groceries. It determines that I can’t just walk.

The old business zones built up around the street car transit lines. Now, we have new transit lines like the Orange line. Like 48th and Chicago, the area around the Orange line is zoned “Corridor 6.” It allows up to 6 stories, but instead of “corridor mixed use” it’s zoned as “urban neighborhood.” The first draft “urban neighborhood” has very limited uses. It bans anything other than residential and “institutional” uses like religious institutions, schools, and community centers. A bodega would be illegal to build or operate at an Orange line stop.

The city is evaluating what  amenities to allow in urban neighborhoods as they update the zoning codes. And I want to live in a complete neighborhood where I can get groceries, get my hair cut, get a teeth cleaning, or stop at a cafe in the morning.

Everywhere with the same built form overlay should have the same allowed uses. 48th and Chicago and 46th and 2nd Ave have the same built form, Corridor 6 for buildings up to 6 stories tall. What is the justification for banning the uses already present at 48th and Chicago? Minneapolis 2040 calls for complete neighborhoods.

What is the justification for allowing amenities only where they already exist? I’m a 3 minute walk from a Corridor 6 area, and I want the same convenience as neighbors 3 minutes from Chicago and 48th or Cedar and 47th. I want a safe and complete neighborhood where I can safely walk with my kiddo, and get a gallon of milk and some mac and cheese.

What can you do to support complete neighborhoods in Minneapolis?

  • Take our complete neighborhoods survey!
  • Volunteer with our Minneapolis 2040 implementation task force!
  • Share your email to get action alerts on this project
  • 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 Brit Anbacht, a N4MN Volunteer