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Community METRO Green Line On the METRO

At Hamline Station, a welcome combination of affordable housing and transit 

| Monday, May 16, 2016 10:19:00 AM

ReJeana Hill moved into a new apartment at Hamline Station earlier this year so she could be close to the METRO Green Line. ReJeana Hill was waiting for a METRO Green Line train at Hamline Avenue Station when she spotted a newly-planted sign on the vacant lot across University Avenue.

Apartments coming soon, it said.

Eager to find an affordable place with more room and easy transit access, she took out her cell phone and dialed the number immediately. Even before her application had been approved, she started packing and telling friends she was moving.

Less than a year later, she and her husband Matt were among the first to take up residence in Hamline Station, a two-building development that opened in late 2015 with more than 100 efficiency, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Now settled into a third-floor apartment overlooking the station, she warmly receives guests and talks proudly about her new apartment, which she describes as “heaven sent.” She also talks glowingly about the Green Line – a lifeline for her and her husband, neither of whom drive.

“It’s like my own personal limo, right outside the door,” Hill said of the Green Line, which she regularly uses to run errands, get to appointments and travel to church.

Hill wasn’t the only one drawn to the combination of affordable, quality housing and transit access. More than 600 applications were received before Hamline Station opened and now, just months after opening, all of the apartments are occupied.

“There’s a strong demand for affordable housing in general, and even more so when it’s in a great location,” said Rick Dahlmeyer, a project manager with Project for Pride in Living.

Project for Pride in Living, or PPL, provides affordable housing and employment readiness. The Minneapolis-based non-profit led the effort to build the apartments on what had been a vacated auto dealership in the northeast corner of University and Hamline avenues.

Residents at Hamline Station earn 50 to 60 percent of the median income; 14 units have been reserved for individuals or families that recently experienced homelessness and are receiving support from two local service providers, Guild Incorporated and Clare Housing.

Support for the $28 million project came from the federal, state and local levels. The Metropolitan Council provided nearly $3.5 million in grant funds to help with site clean-up and land acquisition. U.S. Bank helped raise capital by investing in low-income housing tax credits.                       

Kent Carlson, who owned the property, made the land available for redevelopment and retains ownership of ground-floor retail space that will become home to several businesses.

While the arrangements were complex, Dahlmeyer said the end product is something residents, PPL and all of its partners can be proud of. And it’s not just the fact that it’s the largest project the Minneapolis-based non-profit has taken from start to finish.

With transit and a mix of stores, restaurants and other services nearby it is entirely possible for residents like Hill to forego owning a vehicle. Many of the development’s 50 underground parking spaces have been left unclaimed.

“This is really our flagship TOD (transit-oriented development) project,” Dahlmeyer said.

With its success on University Avenue, PPL hopes to build more affordable housing in Hopkins, near the site of a station on the proposed Green Line Extension. The Council and its partners are also working to advance more affordable housing along the Green Line corridor and other transitways.

Hill considers herself extremely fortunate and hopes those efforts provide others the same opportunity she’s had at Hamline Station. “This has been such a blessing for me and my husband, I just can’t believe it,” she said.

    > Learn more about Metro Transit's Transit Oriented Development office

    > Learn more about Council grants

    > Development along Green Line soars to more than $4 billion 

Express Bus METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Metropass Minneapolis Northstar On the METRO

New transit-friendly HQ a perfect ‘Match’ 

| Monday, December 14, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Be the Match employee Mike Smith spends his time on the bus catching up on emails and listening to the radio.When Be the Match relocated to its new North Loop headquarters, Michael Smith thought he'd continue driving to work.

But weeks after the relocation, he gave up on the idea of driving and using one of the few underground parking spaces available to a small portion of the donor network’s 900-plus employees. 

The decision to go “all in” on transit came after Smith compared his options and became convinced commuting between Minneapolis and Lakeville on Route 467 would be considerably more relaxing than battling traffic on Interstate 35W, his routine for the last several years.

On the bus, Smith spends his time catching up on emails and listening to the radio, occasionally using free WiFi now available on some buses.

“It’s changed my life to be honest with you,” said Smith, Be the Match’s Director of Donor Shared Services. “My wife has even noticed. It’s not that shock and awe feeling where you need a half hour to decompress because the drive is so crazy.  It’s amazing what this is going to do to my family as well as my work.”

Smith isn’t the only Be the Match employee to embrace transit since the non-profit moved from Northeast Minneapolis to a site immediately adjacent Target Field Station. After working in a location with relatively limited transit options, staff now find the METRO Blue and Green lines, Northstar and dozens of express and local bus routes at their doorstep.

Chief Financial Officer Amy Ronneberg said Be the Match looked at 70 different locations but was sold on the North Loop in large part because of its transit access. Like many companies moving to the downtown core, Be the Match sees transit as a key to retaining and recruiting top talent, particularly when it comes to Millenials who are increasingly averse to driving.

“As we looked out into the future, we knew it was important to be in a place with vibrancy,” Ronneberg said. “Being here with all of the amenities and transportation options, I think we’ve opened ourselves up to a whole new potential workforce.”

With thousands of people passing by each day – especially during the Twins season – Be the Match also saw a chance to increase its visibility and raise awareness of its mission. Operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, Be the Match manages the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. 

To ease the transition for current staff, Metro Transit worked closely with Be the Match to help employees understand the options available to them. Be the Match also joined the Metropass program, which gives employees the opportunity to buy a low-cost transit pass that provides unlimited access to buses and trains.

Staff have also been given the freedom to work remotely and are encouraged to carpool, bike or walk to work.

Among those who have converted from a drive-alone commute to transit is Human Resources Coordinator Diane Dombeck, of Spring Lake Park. Before the move, she had taken Northstar just once to a Minnesota Twins game. Now, she takes the train daily to and from Fridley Station.

“I wasn’t sure how it would work, because it was a new thing to me,” she said. “But it’s really painless and a lot more fun than I thought it would be because you chat with other train riders and get to know people. I actually love taking it now.”

Dombeck was reminded of how different life will be when winter weather hit a few weeks ago and she had to drive to Be the Match’s former location. With traffic, the usual 25-minute commute turned into almost 90 minutes on the road.

“I really missed the train that day,” she said.

Metropass popularity growing

Be the Match is among several employers to join the Metropass program this year. The Mall of America, Delta and Regions Hospital also joined the program in 2015. Around 280 companies now participate in the Metropass program. Staff at participating companies can purchase the unlimited-ride passes for a flat monthly fee. The passes can be bought pre-tax and the cost is typically offset by an employer contribution. Any company with at least ten participants can join the Metropass program. To learn more, visit metrotransit.org/metropass.

Supporting TOD through grants, assistance

Be the Match’s new headquarters, at 524 5th Street N., were built by Minneapolis-based United Properties (United Properties has since sold the building; Be the Match has a 15-year lease, with the option of renewing). The Metropolitan Council provided a $487,000 brownfield clean-up grant to assist with pre-development at the site, previously home to a printing facility. To learn more about how the Council and Metro Transit are supporting Transit-Oriented Development through grants and technical assistance visit metrotransit.org/tod.

North Loop rising

Be the Match is among several recent developments in the area immediately surrounding Target Field Station. District 600, a new 78-unit apartment building adjacent to the Fulton Brewery, is set to open in February 2016. Construction is also underway on a new 12,000-square-foot brewery, Inbound Brewco., at 70 N. 5th Street. Metro Transit is planning to expand and improve its Heywood Campus north of Target Field. 

Bus METRO Blue Line Minneapolis On the METRO

Transit-oriented development brings new life to Lake Street 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, November 03, 2015 8:38:00 AM

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the county's new service center on Lake Street.Drawn by its affordability and central location, Michael Denny moved to the Corcoran neighborhood more than 36 years ago. Cities across America were in decline but even then, he said, he had a feeling good things were going to happen in this corner of south Minneapolis.

The evidence in support of Denny’s hunch has been piling up ever since.

Over the last decades, the neighborhood has welcomed new businesses, a YMCA and a weekly farmer’s market that now draws more than 66,000 visitors a year. In 2004, the neighborhood celebrated the opening of the METRO Blue Line and its Lake Street/Midtown Station.

On Monday, neighborhood leaders joined officials from Hennepin County and partnering organizations to mark the start of another transformational project: a redevelopment that will bring a new county Human Services Center, retail space and more than 500 housing units to land immediately west of the LRT station.

For Denny, who raised two children in a home just blocks from the site, the promise of more neighborhood vitality further affirms his decision to call Corcoran home.

“I could sense something was happening when I moved here, and I still have a really good feeling about the neighborhood,” he said after the groundbreaking ceremony. “I’m all in – I found it (home).”

Getting to this point hasn’t come easily, however. For more than a decade, officials and community leaders have been talking about how to enliven the area surrounding the light-rail station.

Successful negotiations allowed the county to take control of more than six acres, including land used for a Metro Transit Park & Ride and a Minneapolis Public Schools building where adult learning classes are held. The Park & Ride closed earlier this year, and MPS will remain on site while searching for a new location nearby.

The Human Services Center, including retail space along Lake Street, is expected to open in late 2017. More than 100 apartments are also part of the first phase, with more housing to be phased in over time.

County officials pursued the deal as part of an effort to create a decentralized network of service centers to better serve the community. More than a quarter of county residents receive county assistance and more than 16 percent of those people are expected to use the new Lake Street location.

In addition to giving people better access to services, the redevelopment will bring housing and job opportunities that benefit existing residents and draw more people to the city.

“What we have now is a chance to re-create urban America as a place of opportunity,” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said.

Opportunity is also on the minds of more than 50 vendors at the Midtown Farmer’s Market, which wrapped up its 13th season in October. Though plans remain in the works, organizers look forward to having more conveniences for sellers and a better environment for all who attend.

“This will establish a real sense of permanency and create something that really feels like a home for the market,” Market Manager Miguel Goebel said.

The start of construction comes just months after a new senior housing project opened across Lake Street. That $45 million project includes 68 affordable apartments, a street-level plaza and a rooftop patio. (The Council provided a $1 million grant to support the transit-oriented development by Minneapolis-based Wellington Management.)

Transit-Oriented Development isn’t isolated to the Lake Street/Midtown Station area either.

Be the Match’s 900 employees will soon move into new offices next to Target Field Station, one of several developments in the rapidly-changing North Loop neighborhood. In St. Paul, a portion of a $28 million project that will bring more than 100 affordable apartments to what was a vacant used car dealership north of the Green Line’s Hamline Avenue Station will open in December.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said these and other projects that bring jobs, housing and services to areas that are well-served by transit make the Twin Cities more accessible and equitable.

“Transit-oriented development is about letting people choose where to live, work and recreate — and giving them the freedom to make those choices without worrying about the financial burdens they’ll face when it comes to transportation,” he said. 


'Transit Village' At a Glance

> Opening in 2017: Hennepin County Human Services Center, 114 workforce housing units, 8,000 square feet of retail space fronting Lake Street, a transit plaza and parking.

> Later phases will include the public gathering space, more than 400 residences and additional parking. 

> The project is being developed by L&H Station development, LLC, a joint venture between BKV Group and Launch Properties.


    > Hennepin County anchors transit-friendly development in south Minneapolis

    > Star Tribune: Officials break ground on development at Lake St. and Hiawatha Av.

    > Route 21: A crosstown with culture, community

    > Metro Transit: Transit-Oriented Development

In the News Light Rail METRO Blue Line On the METRO

METRO Blue Line welcomes visitors, boosts revenue 

| Wednesday, November 27, 2013 11:46:00 AM

Visitors who arrive at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are instantly connected to downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America and numerous hotels thanks to the METRO Blue Line. When the METRO Green Line opens next year, travelers will also be able to reach the University of Minnesota and St. Paul via light rail.

Such convenience is good for business.

A new study by the American Public Transportation Association and U.S. Travel Association found that “rail cities” where airports are served by rail lines regularly outperform those without such a link when it comes to hotel revenue and occupancy rates.

Since 2006, researchers found that hotels in “rail cities” generated 11 percent more revenue per room compared to those without rail. Hotels within a quarter-mile of a station area did even better, showing 12 percent higher occupancy rates and 49 percent higher average daily room rates.

The study drew on data from Minneapolis and five other cities with airport-rail connections (the trip from Terminal 1-Lindbergh station to downtown Minneapolis takes about 20 minutes). The numbers were compared with popular destinations without a direct rail connection, including Las Vegas and New Orleans. 

“Clearly investment in local rail systems not only benefits residents, but drives significant economic growth in the travel and hospitality industries,” APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said in a statement.

Kristen Montag, the communications manager for Meet Minneapolis, said the Blue Line is a strong selling point for meeting and event planners because it reduces transportation costs and provides visitors flexibility.

It also fits with the Twin Cities’ reputation as an active, vibrant community where biking, walking and taking transit allows people to get around car-free.

“People can get off the plane at the airport and take the train, walk around, use the [free] bus on Nicollet Mall, rent a bike or pretty much do anything without having to rent a car,” she said.  “That certainly makes this an attractive destination.”

The METRO Blue Line's two airport terminal stations are among the busiest of the 19 on the light rail line. In 2012, there were nearly 3 million Blue Line boardings at the Blue Line’s Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey stations, representing about 18 percent of total boardings.

"The local business and hospitality industries have underscored how important the Blue Line's airport connection is to major commerce areas in the metro," Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. "For travelers, this stress-free connection is a great introduction to what we have to offer in the Twin Cities."

    > APTA: Cities with Rail-to-Airport Connection Boost Hotel Revenue

    > Airport Transit Service

Bus Bus Rapid Transit On the METRO Transit Planning

Report: Transit investments bring more private spending 

| Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:30:00 PM

The HealthLine in Cleveland, Ohio has led to transit-oriented development. A new report underscores the economic development potential of transit investments like the METRO Red Line launched this summer along Cedar Avenue and planned Arterial Bus Rapid Transit lines in the Twin Cities.

The report from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy analyzed the impact of 21 transit corridors around the country, measuring the amount of transit-oriented development investment per dollar of transit investment.

The study did not include any local transitways but found that BRT lines in Cleveland, Ohio and Kansas City, Mo., each led to more than $5 billion in private development – more than $100 for every $1 spent on transit. Investment in transit-oriented development outweighed transit investments in two-thirds of the corridors included in the study. Researchers also looked at light rail and streetcar lines in their study.

Government support was found to be a leading contributor to transit-oriented development in the study, followed by market conditions and "transit quality."    

   Photo of Cleveland HealthLine courtesy Greater Cleveland RTA

> ITDP: More Investment For Your Transit Dollar

> On the METRO

> Met Council: Strategic Investments in TOD

> The A Line: Snelling Bus Rapid Transit

In the News METRO Blue Line On the METRO

Blue Line brings happiness to Hiawatha corridor 

| Tuesday, September 17, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Are people who live near the METRO Blue Line happier than those who live in areas without such ready access to light rail transit?

In a word, yes.

New research by University of Minnesota associate professor Jason Cao shows residents living within a half-mile of the Blue Line are more satisfied with their travel than those who live in corridors without LRT. Hiawatha corridor residents were also found to have a higher quality of life in the research.

Published earlier this year, the findings are based on a 2011 survey of around 1,300 residents living between the Blue Line’s Lake Street and 50th Street stations, the most residential section of the 12-mile Blue Line. People living on Minneapolis’s Nicollet and Bloomington avenues, in Coon Rapids and in Burnsville were surveyed for comparison purposes.

Cao said accessibility to “activity destinations” like downtown Minneapolis, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Mall of America is one of the primary reasons residents derive happiness from the Blue Line. The quality of the travel itself also plays a role.  

“This is about the positivity of travel – not just using the rail to get to a destination, but enjoying the travel itself,” Cao said. “Passengers can read, listen to music and relax instead of driving in traffic and congestion which contributes to their quality of life.”

Before the study, Cao said he suspected residents along the Blue Line would be more contented than those with less transit access. But aside from his recent research, there had been little data to support the claim.

Now that he’s established an association, Cao hopes to continue his research on the Blue Line and learn more about the connection between frequency of transit use and quality of life. He’d also like to extend his work to include the METRO Green Line, opening next year.

Though Cao maintains rail’s main purposes are reducing the growth of congestion and inspiring economic development, he said the happiness factor is a positive marginal benefit that shouldn’t be discounted.

“If we have good transit attributes, no matter if it's rail or bus, I think we’re going to see an increase in satisfaction with travel for those people and then indirectly a boost in quality of life,” he said.

> Atlantic Cities: Living Near Good Transit May Make You Happier

> Urban Land: Twin Cities' Residents Near Transit Found to Be Happier

> Study: Transit boosts economy

> U of M: Center for Transportation Studies

METRO Blue Line Minneapolis On the METRO

Supportive housing, supportive transit 

| Monday, September 09, 2013 1:51:00 PM

RS Eden’s new Emanuel Apartments in downtown Minneapolis has 101 units and 10,000 square feet of commercial space but not a single parking space. And that suits the people who live and work there just fine.

Instead of driving to work, appointments or classes, residents and employees at the 822 South 3rd Street building simply walk a block west to the METRO Blue Line’s Downtown East/Metrodome Station, catch a bus on nearby Chicago Avenue or bike.

In place of parking, land outside the mixed-use building has been used to create a private backyard with trees, benches, grills and grass for residents’ pets to roam. In the basement, a large space has been dedicated to bike storage and a room has been set aside for bike maintenance and repairs.

Laura Craig, supportive services program director for RS Eden, said she rides the Blue Line to work at Emanuel Apartments every day and that the dozen other staff members who also work at the site commute largely by bus or train.

“This has been a wonderful incentive to use the train,” Craig said.  

Proximity to transit was one of the main reasons RS Eden landed on its new location. Emanuel Housing is a sober supportive housing development that offers permanent residence to those who commit to a life free of drugs and alcohol.  

The non-profit RS Eden was created 40 years ago to serve Vietnam veterans and has evolved to serve a range of clients, including families and single adults. RS Eden now manages nine sober supportive housing projects in Minneapolis and St. Paul, many of which are located on transit-rich corridors.

For many of RS Eden’s residents, vehicles aren’t an option and transit is a critical connection for classes, work and services. With nearly a dozen rooms at Emanuel Apartments reserved for veterans, the Blue Line’s connection to the Veterans Administration is especially important.

“It’s a perfect location for us,” said RS Eden President Dan Cain. “There’s no need for parking because our tenants have immediate access to transportation, to job opportunities, medical centers and other services.”

Emanuel Apartments opened in August following the renovation of an existing four-story structure and the construction of a connecting four-story building immediately south. The $18 million project was funded through low-income housing tax credits, as well as funding from the state, city and RS Eden.

Since the doors opened, nearly 90 residents have moved in; the building is expected to be fully occupied by the end of the year.

More than a dozen RS Eden case managers and staff with the Council on Crime and Justice work at the building. Remaining space is expected to be used for a medical and legal clinic that would be open to the general public.

For Cain, the combination of supportive housing, transit and public services creates what he considers to be RS Eden’s crowning achievement. “This is really the jewel in our crown,” he said.

A grand opening for Emanuel Apartments is set for noon on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

> RS Eden

> METRO Blue Line

> Finding a home on the METRO Blue Line

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