Marcy-Holmes neighborhood seeks public input for new Master Plan


Marcy-Holmes officials are planning the neighborhood’s next 10 years.

At a public meeting last week, residents of the oldest neighborhood in Minneapolis commented on its master plan, a Minneapolis City Council-approved document laying out goals for the neighborhood’s future.

Residents expressed a desire for housing catering to new families, seniors and long-time homeowners to supplement the student apartment complexes, which have divided public opinion.

“They don’t want to become a monoculture of just students,” said Pierre Willette, economic and community development manager at the University of Minnesota Foundation.

After two more public meetings, neighborhood representatives will bring the new plan back to the City Council this winter. Minneapolis city planner Haila Maze said residents can use plans in negotiations with developers or investors to help ensure new development fits with their vision for the neighborhood.

City officials also consider neighborhood plans when hearing proposals from developers, Maze said.

“If there is something that seems really out there,” she said, “[developers] are going to have to answer for that.”

Looking forward, looking back

Marcy-Holmes residents worked with the city in the 1980s to increase single-family and senior housing. Increased University enrollment and student apartment complexes have led to traffic congestion and deteriorating buildings since then.

The old Marcy-Holmes plan focused on keeping high-density housing on the neighborhood’s edges while maintaining a “solid core” of single-family homes on Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth streets southeast.

The new plan will focus on introducing a middle ground between single-family dwellings and large housing complexes over the next decade — what Andrew Dresdner, an urban designer for the plan, calls “gentle density.”

As new housing development wraps up, “the pendulum will swing” toward a more student-dominated neighborhood, he said.

“Marcy-Holmes welcomes students,” Dresdner said, but eventually the push for new student development will subside. The neighborhood needs more housing for young families, he said, to get students to stay in the area after graduation.

Families with children under age 18 make up slightly less than 4 percent of the Marcy-Holmes population, according to data from Minnesota Compass. That same demographic makes up more than a fifth of the Minneapolis population.

University alumnus and master plan steering committee member Paul Buchanan said the University suffers from a lack of student housing, so the swell of development in recent years makes sense.

“There’s a need for it,” he said, “and that’s why it’s happening.”

Getting Involved

Buchanan said working with the neighborhood has helped him “take some ownership” of where he lives.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize they have that option,” he said.

University of Minnesota urban studies senior Shannon Evans said she joined the steering committee partially because she’s one of the few students aware of how neighborhood groups function.

“I wanted to make sure that students’ voices are heard,” she said.

When the neighborhood started holding public hearings, Evans said, she was surprised by how highly residents spoke of the undergraduate population.

But she said it bothers her when residents make generalizations about 28,700 undergraduate students based on negative interactions they’ve had with just a few.

Only two of the 14 steering committee members are University students,  which Evans said doesn’t surprise her — compared to permanent residents, transient students aren’t as invested in their neighborhoods.

“I think people just don’t care as much about their local politics,” she said.

As the only developer on the steering committee, CPM Property Management President Daniel Oberpriller said it’s his job to represent landlords in the planning process.

Oberpriller’s company owns a number of properties in Marcy-Holmes and will begin construction on a six-story, 643-bedroom apartment complex on 15th Avenue Southeast in August.

He said it’s important for Marcy-Holmes to use space wisely in the next decade by finding higher-density uses for large houses.

“Nobody needs a 10-bedroom house,” he said. “Can you cut that up and make it into a better use of space?”