This report intends to provide an analysis of industrial land use and industrial zoning in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. Industrial land use and industrial zoning have played an important role in shaping and enabling the Arts District, which now supports approximately 1200 artists working across about 1.2 million square feet of building space. This report also engages with the building owners of arts use buildings in the Arts Districts. They provide insights into the benefits the Arts District creates for artists and business owners, and they articulate the value that the historically industrial buildings of the Arts District offer.
Throughout six interviews with Northeast Minneapolis Arts District arts building owners, common themes were identified.
• All building owners spoke to the benefits that the Arts District brings to their business and the success of artists working in the Arts District. Artists in the Arts District have ready access to raw materials for arts-production thanks to the many arts-adjacent businesses in and nearby the Arts District.
• The Arts District serves as an arts destination which increases the amount of potential customers, especially important to the many early-career artists in the Arts District.
• The historically industrial buildings of the Arts District which have been rehabilitated into arts centric buildings serve the needs of artists at every stage of their career. These buildings offer a variety of studio sizes, have lower rents in part thanks to the low needs of artist tenants in comparison with some commercial tenants, and allow for higher intensity arts production processes that might create noise or odor.
• Many of the building owners described an interview and assessment process for potential tenants to ensure a healthy community dynamic, suitability of the artist’s medium and art process within the building, and to encourage innovation and mutual support among the building community. For some building owners this onboarding process also includes rent negotiation which allows artists to secure a rent and studio space that is appropriate for their needs and income.
• Many of the building owners acknowledge that they could generate higher rent profits if they rented to typical commercial tenants rather than artists. These building owners keep their buildings arts oriented due to their commitment to the arts and the longevity of the Arts District as a whole.
• The building owners hope that as land and building use in the Arts District shifts over time, opportunities for new arts buildings to be established will still exist.
This report found that industrial land use in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District has been steadily decreasing since 1984, from 24% of all land use in the Arts District to 11% in 2016. Industrial land use in the Arts District was found to have a slower estimated total value growth rate than other land uses, especially when accounting for industrial land that changed use between 1984 and 2016. Slower estimated value growth rates could be an incentive for developers to buy industrial land with the intent of developing it for non-industrial uses. Zoning in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District did not change significantly between 2010 and 2021, the period with available zoning data. Over this 11-year period, two parcels of land changed from industrial zoning. These two parcels which account for 2.83 acres of land were the N&E Apartments and the Hook & Ladder Apartments which changed to commercial and residential zoning respectively. Minneapolis 2040 Plan will overhaul aspects of land use and zoning by creating new land use classifications and implementing the Built Form overlay. In the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District 98 acres of industrial land, or 92% of industrial land in 2016, will be designated Production Mixed Use which allows for both production and non-production uses, encourages the adaptive re-use of older industrial properties, and allows for residential use.
This report concludes with case studies of U.S. cities that have strong Creative Index Values, similar to Minneapolis. Land use and zoning regulations in these cities advised the policy recommendation of this report; to explore the implementation of an Arts District Overlay in the forthcoming future land use of the Minneapolis 2040 Plan. This Arts District Overlay would create tools and policies for accomplishing the arts related action steps set out in the 2040 Plan. The Arts District Overlay would focus on stimulating the retention and development of arts-production spaces and encouraging adaptive reuse of historically industrial buildings in mixed-use developments with arts-production at the focal point. With Minneapolis’ recent establishment of the Department of Arts & Cultural Affairs and the upcoming implementation of the Minneapolis 2040 Plan, there is an abundance of opportunity for our city to develop programs and capacities to support the powerful Minneapolis arts economy.
Industrial Land Use and Zoning in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.
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