Minneapolis park commissioner's bid to preserve W. Calhoun neighborhood reignites density debate

Supporters say the designation will protect neighborhood character. 

An attempt by a Minneapolis Park Board commissioner to designate her neighborhood as a “conservation district” has caught the attention of housing advocates who see it as a way to block denser development.

Park Board Commissioner Meg Forney’s application to the city has reignited the debate between pro- and anti-density groups that began around the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Adopted last year by the City Council, the guiding document calls for eliminating single-family zoning citywide in favor of increased density to address a critical housing shortage.

Conservation districts are areas “distinguished by quality of design or detail, innovation, rarity, or uniqueness,” according to the city’s charter. Under the designation, property owners can set design guidelines that keep intact notable features of the district.

Though the City Council approved the designation in 2014, there are no conservation districts in Minneapolis. This is the first application received by the city, according to Andrea Burke, the city’s supervisor for historic preservation.

Forney’s district would encompass her home and 25 others, located off West Calhoun Parkway on the west side of Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun. The secluded neighborhood is bordered by the Minikahda Club golf course on the south and larger apartment buildings on the north.

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"Minneapolis park commissioner's bid to preserve W. Calhoun neighborhood reignites density debate"; By Miguel Otárola; Star Tribune; Aug 13, 2019

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