Economic Health:

Housing investment

Housing unit starts in the Upper River and Central Riverfront, 2004-2014

Over the last ten years, housing starts have predictably mirrored national trends, bottoming out during the Great Recession (see chart above). What has changed since the Great Recession is that ownership housing construction has given way to new rental construction. Developers in general are reticent to build new multi-unit dwellings designed for ownership due to liability issues under current Minnesota laws. In addition, a surge of student-oriented housing construction has occurred near the University of Minnesota.

Over ten times as many units have been constructed in the Central Riverfront as in the Upper River (see figures at right).

Source: City of Minneapolis Building Permit Databases, including all project permits filed in 2004-2014, whether open or completed.  Rental versus ownership categorization made by the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, based on familiarity or additional research on the question, including review of city meeting minutes, staff reports, contacts with city staff, news accounts of project, or the Hennepin County Parcel Dataset (2004-2014) as aquired from either MetroGIS Datafinder (2004-2010) or Hennepin County (2011-).

Total housing starts,


Upper River


Central Riverfront

Housing unit starts by building type, 2004-2014

The nature of what is built varies as well, with more single family construction in the Upper River, where the City and non-profit housing developers are making a concerted effort to fill empty lots with new homes, particularly in North Side neighborhoods.