As city grows, so does vision for the future


Comprehensive plan for ‘sustainable’ Minneapolis up for public review

When the city of Minneapolis adopted its first comprehensive plan — at the time called the “Official Plan” — more than five decades ago, immense population growth and increased automotive traffic led city representatives to create a roadmap for Minneapolis’ future in an attempt to plan for and confine the rapid expansion.

As the city changed, so, too, did subsequent comprehensive plans. In the decades that followed, as the surrounding suburbs grew, Minneapolis addressed the opposite challenge of promoting growth in the city. Now, as the first decade of the new century nears its end, Minneapolis is once again growing, and the city is looking ahead at how to manage that growth with its fifth update of the comprehensive plan, titled the “Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth.”

The plan addresses overarching aspects of the city’s development, including infrastructure, transportation, the economy, culture and more. The current draft plan reflects new development opportunities stemming from recent projects such as light-rail transit and the latest population increase, and it will focus on managing the city in the coming years with maintainable, environmentally friendly development.

“More people are living here, more are relocating here, more are investing here and more are working here than a generation ago,” stated Mayor R.T. Rybak in a press release. “One of our challenges is to articulate with good planning where and how we want this city to grow. That’s why we need residents to share their thoughts and ideas about how to grow Minneapolis.”

The Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) department is charged with developing the comprehensive plan with input from the community, the city’s Zoning and Planning committee, the Heritage Preservation Commission and numerous arts commissions.

A first round of public input meetings and online surveys helped produce the latest draft plan, which will be the subject of five open houses in January. (See dates, times and locations below.) Afterwards, the City Council will vote to approve a comprehensive plan, and the Metropolitan Council will then review the city’s process of adopting the plan.

What’s the plan?

The comprehensive plan is a major planning tool that outlines the city’s direction, mostly in terms of physical development, for several decades. According to the draft of the 2008 executive summary, “the plan serves as a guideline for designating land uses and infrastructure investments, as well as providing and developing community services.” The version of the plan that’s being discussed now will address the city’s vision through 2030.

David Motzenbecker, president of the City of Minneapolis Planning Commission, called the comprehensive plan, in a press release, “a keystone for guiding public commissions, staff and policymakers as they work with the citizenry to weave together a city comprised of great places.”

Plans are often reviewed and amended between the time they are adopted and a new plan is written, which usually happens every 10 to 15 years. The last comprehensive plan update took place only eight years ago, however.

Here’s general overview of the key areas mentioned in the draft:

Land use — The city’s land use pattern will protect natural resources while improving Minneapolis’ vitality.

Transportation — Minneapolis will work to reduce negative transportation impacts by decreasing automobile dependence.

Housing — Minneapolis neighborhoods will include a variety of housing to serve all members of the community.

Economic development — Commerce, employment, industry and tourism opportunities will increase.

Public services and facilities — Strategic investments will help maintain public services and facilities advancing health and safety.

Environment — Minneapolis will provide equal access to the city’s natural resources and encourage sustainable design practices to help support the local economy without jeopardizing the future health of the city.

Open space and parks — The city will work within the public and private sectors to provide more open space and recreational amenities for the community.

Urban design — Design will balance the city’s natural resources with new construction and emphasize pedestrian facilities.

Heritage preservation — Preservation will include protecting and salvaging culturally significant buildings, resources and landscapes, even as the city continues to expand.

Arts and culture — Access for all residents to cultural and arts activities are important to the city’s prosperity and its residents’ quality of life.

January open houses and public comment

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 5:30–7:30 p.m.
North Regional Library
1315 Lowry Ave. N.

Saturday, Jan. 12, 2–4 p.m.
Lake Hiawatha Community Center
2701 E. 44th St.

Thursday, Jan. 17, 7–9 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center
4055 Nicollet Ave. S.

Monday, Jan. 28, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
Mill City Museum
704 S. Second St.
(Bridgeland location)

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 4–6 p.m.
Eastside Neighborhood Services
1700 NE Second St.

Those who can’t make it to the open houses can still send their comments via e-mail to or by U.S. mail to:

Haila Maze
Senior City Planner
Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development
350 S. Fifth St., Room 210
Minneapolis, MN 55415

To view the full text of the draft, visit or stop at any Minneapolis public library for a paper copy.