COMMUNITY VOICES | It takes a village to grow healthy: Projects across the Twin Cities link public health and community development

There is growing recognition in the medical field that maintaining good health means more than taking care of yourself and getting regular medical check ups. Healthy living conditions and strong community cohesion foster healthy neighborhoods, while inequality, discrimination, crime, pollution, traffic, isolation, and a sense of powerlessness contribute to disease. It’s difficult to improve people’s overall health without addressing the social, economic and racial issues where they live.

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COMMUNITY VOICES | Making the most of every station on the new Green Line

The Green line running from Minneapolis to St. Paul presents one of the biggest economic opportunities for the region since interstate highways appeared in the 1960s. While freeways funneled billions of investment into mushrooming suburbs, light rail offers a chance to rebalance the scale by bringing major development to central city neighborhoods.But that won’t happen automatically at every light rail station, which is why the Local Initiative Support Corporation-Twin Cities (LISC) joined with private developers, non-profit developers, neighborhood groups and the city of St. Paul to accelerate development at stations along the Eastern stretch of University Avenue. “We’re working to activate the market in this area to promote transit-oriented development (TOD) and social equity,” says LISC Program Director Gretchen Nicholls about the Accelerator Project, “which will benefit a broad cohort of stakeholders: residents, businesses and organizations in the area.”This diverse, mixed-income area on a rail line calls for a different kind of development than usually seen in the Twin Cities. Continue Reading

Corridor development initiative ensures the billion-dollar Southwest Light Rail investment will help communities

A drive or stroll along Beltline Boulevard in St. Louis Park today offers little clue of what the place will become over the next decade—or its importance for helping the Twin Cities thrive over the next century. Right now it’s a mish-mash of low-slung offices, warehouses, empty tracts, a factory complex, apartment buildings, a medical center and a nature preserve. Overall, it feels isolated—hardly the spot to inspire big plans for the future.But a rail station on the Green Line from St. Paul and Minneapolis is slated for the site in 2018 (depending on state and federal funding), which will bring the Green Line west from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.  That makes Beltline Boulevard a strategic site for the kind of sustainable, equitable development needed to boost prosperity and quality-of-life for everyone in the metropolitan area.But it won’t happen automatically—which is why the Twin Cities office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is partnering with the City of St. Louis Park on the Community Development Initiative Plus (CDI+).  It’s a way to get the community thinking and planning now to make the most of this opportunity when predevelopment financing is available to move new projects forward. Continue Reading