Surge of new apartments fuels fear over a changing northeast Minneapolis

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

St. Anthony West, a quiet area with modest homes, is growing more densely populated. 

The eight modest homes on Main and 2nd streets have housed generations of northeast Minneapolis families. By the end of the year, a developer hopes to demolish each one to make way for two apartment complexes with nearly 300 units in total.

The apartment construction boom in the St. Anthony West neighborhood has had longtime residents seeing their community change before their eyes. Solhem Cos.’ proposal for two more buildings was enough to bring dozens to a neighborhood meeting to speak their minds last month.

“It’s really felt like it isn’t Northeast for the last three years,” Sheila Biernat, who has lived in the neighborhood for 33 years, said last week. “There’s just so much density happening.”

Northeast has long been known as Minneapolis’ working-class bedroom community, dotted with petite homes, beloved bars and restaurants and a tranquillity that is harder to find in other areas of the city.

The fear of losing those single-family homes is what drove much of the opposition against the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which the City Council adopted last year. But in certain areas of the city, such as St. Anthony West, the demolition of homes to make way for denser housing was already underway.

The three houses on the left are slated for demolition to make way for another apartment building in this neighborhood.

The reaction to Solhem’s proposal has raised many of the same questions that dominated City Hall last year, such as whether new housing will be available to existing residents, and if the city’s zeal for density is eroding its historic charm.

The neighborhood has gone through “radical changes” in recent years that have put some residents on edge, said Chris Linde, the vice chairman of the St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization. It has become harder to find a place to own, a cheap place to rent and space to park, he said.

Yet as elected officials look to build more housing for the tens of thousands expected to move into the city over the next 20 years, Linde believes St. Anthony West has to play its part.

“People want to live in this neighborhood, and that should be seen as a compliment,” he said. “And it’s not going to happen if you develop single-family homes.”

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Developer handouts East Building HERE.

Developer handouts West Building HERE.

"Surge of new apartments fuels fear over a changing northeast Minneapolis"; By Miguel Otárola; Star Tribune; July 13, 2019