Minneapolis plans the country’s most climate resilient neighborhood

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Minneapolis' 4th Street looking east from a location just east of 29th Ave., in a sketch of climate resilient neighborhood Prospect Park 2020. (Prospect Park 2020)

A collection of grain silos and railroad tracks next to the University of Minnesota‘s Minneapolis campus is set to become a “living laboratory” for climate resilience, according to its designers and allies in city and regional government.

Prospect North would be a mixed-use development with a “science park,” library, business incubators and new industrial spaces all plugged into a local power grid dedicated to the eight-acre development. Sandwiched between Highway 280 and the TCF Bank Stadium northeast, the project benefits from the recently completed Green Line—an 11-mile line that connects the Twin Cities by light rail for the first time in decades.

“We saw that development was going to happen here,” Richard Gilyard, an architect working on the plan, told Next City’s Rachel Dovey. So, Gilyard continued, he and other residents of the nearby Prospect Park neighborhood rallied support for a new kind of development from the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Public Housing Authority, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and the University of Minnesota, and other local players.

Sketch_29th-University

Gilyard and others saw the former industrial area as a proving ground for afuturistic, climate resilient neighborhood-scale technologies.

“You don’t have this in Cambridge or Berkeley,” said Tom Fisher, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Design, in a brochure for the project. “It’s a great opportunity for the Twin Cities to show what a 21st Century city could be like. How do we live? How do we educate ourselves? How do we live sustainably?”

Prospect Park 2020 is still in planning phases. But its partnership with local agencies is rooted in previous climate action in the Twin Cities. Citing data from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the city’s climate action plan warns Minneapolis could see a substantial increase in heavy precipitation due to climate change, as well as higher average temperatures. That could push already aging infrastructure past its breaking point. The plan also calls for Minneapolis to reduce energy use by 17 percent by 2025, in part by generating 10 percent of its electricity from “local, renewable sources.”

Bird's eye view looking to the northwest over the Prospect Park Tower. (Propsect Park 2020)
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