Met Council grants support cities to prepare for development

Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Three teens stand on a sidewalk in front of an apartment building.In June, the Metropolitan Council awarded 10 grants totaling $1.1 million to support cities as they prepare for development or create local policies that influence physical development. Cities awarded grants in this round include Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Falcon Heights, Minneapolis, Newport, Richfield, and Saint Paul. 

Like all Livable Communities grants the Met Council makes, the predevelopment and policy development grant programs support goals in Thrive MSP 2040, the regional development guide, including:  

  • Create more housing options 

  • Create or preserve living-wage jobs 

  • Intensify land uses to take advantage of connections between amenities 

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve natural resources 

  • Realize more equitable development outcomes 

Supporting development in the early stages  

“It’s great that cities are taking the initiative to apply for these grants to support projects in the early stages of physical development or redevelopment,” said Met Council Vice Chair Reva Chamblis. “Many proposals demonstrate innovation and address critical needs, like the Glenwood project that includes both affordable housing for larger households and a grocery store, located in the middle of a federally designated food desert.” 

The predevelopment grants fund feasibility analysis, infrastructure improvements, design, community engagement, and other activities needed to ready a project for construction. Grants awarded this round include: 

Center for Asian and Pacific Islanders (CAPI), Brooklyn Center. $296,000 for final design concept and construction documents to expand the city’s Immigrant Opportunity Center by developing an adjacent .84-acre parcel. The envisioned two-story mixed-use retail/commercial space will house CAPI's Financial Opportunity Center, tenant space for BIPOC-led nonprofit partners, community event and training spaces, and a technology and resource center alongside a childcare business incubator. 

Amber Flats Affordable Housing, Falcon Heights. $204,000 for architectural design and development of a stormwater management plan. The proposed project will turn a parcel that is currently a parking lot into an all-affordable development with a mix of unit sizes. The project proposes 92 units to be affordable at 60% AMI. 

New Nicollet, Minneapolis (10 and 30 Lake Street West). $75,000 for final market and feasibility studies, plans for massing and stacking, floor plans, parcels, phasing, parking, and access and utility plan. The proposed project will reconnect Nicollet Avenue, turn the area into a vibrant mixed-use community hub, and add a new public park. The project proposes to add 600-800 new housing units with at least 20% of the units as affordable rentals or 10% as affordable ownership units. Ground floor units will be reserved for commercial uses and could create up to 55 new jobs. 

PennWood Village and Community Center, Minneapolis (Glenwood and Penn avenues). $50,000 for design work and community engagements, a final commercial feasibility analysis, and soil testing. The proposed project will turn four parcels into affordable housing and an accessible grocery store for nearby residents. The location is in a federally designated food desert and several grocers and food marts in the area have recently closed. The project intends to target families by creating three- and four-bedroom units in addition to partnering with the Stable Home Stable Schools program through the City of Minneapolis.  

Swank Eatery, 328 W. Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis. $75,000 for sustainable designs, site plan development, stormwater management plan, and architectural design. The proposed project will renovate an existing building and develop a food hall with vendors and an open dining space. The development will also include office space. Creation of 50 jobs is anticipated, at least half of which would be living wage. The project team anticipates these jobs going to local residents and incorporating mentoring, job training, and employment for formerly incarcerated individuals 

Gloryville, 1570 White Bear Ave., St. Paul. $205,000 for architectural design, stormwater management plan, market and feasibility study, and soil testing; $20,000 for project management and/or developer mentoring. Gloryville is a proposed mixed-use development with affordable rental housing and 25,130 square feet of commercial/retail space. The City's housing authority selected this project to be developed on a City-owned parcel through a formal RFP process. This currently vacant site will provide affordable housing and employment opportunities for residents in the area. The project also intends to provide services for residents and will have units set aside for people with disabilities. 

Rondo Community Land Trust, 1036 Marshall Avenue, Saint Paul. $75,000 to complete architectural design for affordable ownership units and hold two-three design workshops/community engagement events. Rondo CLT is proposing an affordable homeownership infill development. The project intends to be targeted to families with three-bedroom units and shared greenspace. Additionally, the project team intends to have net-zero design and solar resources to maximize energy efficiency, minimize climate impact, and reduce costs for homeowners. Affordability is guaranteed in perpetuity with a 99-year ground lease. 

Creating local policies that achieve regional goals 

Vacant land at 1036 Marshall Avenue in Saint Paul, with houses on an adjacent street in the background.The policy development program provides funding to create or amend locally adopted policies that influence physical development. The grants support cities to prepare the ground to encourage affordable housing, jobs, and connected development to meet local and regional goals.  

In this funding round, the Met Council awarded grants to three policy initiatives: 

Opportunity Housing Ordinance/Housing Nexus Study, Bloomington. $45,000 to conduct a renewed Housing Nexus Study to inform an update to the City’s ordinance requirements and rates. Updates would also align with local and regional goals to increase housing choice and affordable housing supply. 

Zoning code update, Richfield. $35,000 to rewrite the City’s multifamily and high-density multifamily zoning districts to facilitate infill construction and accommodate a diversity of “missing middle” housing types. The intended outcome is to stimulate development of a wider variety of more attainable housing that serves a greater segment of the population.  

Zoning ordinance update, Newport. $20,000 to update the City’s zoning code. The goal is to reevaluate development procedures and design standards to better facilitate new development of multifamily and “missing middle” housing in the community. This will allow for increased density, multifamily housing, and updated architectural standards to better align with LEED guidelines. 

Livable Communities program promotes prosperity and economic development 

The Met Council has been making Livable Communities grants to local jurisdictions in the seven-county metro area since 1995. To be eligible and compete for Livable Communities funding, metro area cities must participate in the Livable Communities program, which provides grants for: 

  • Affordable housing 

  • Development that promotes mixed-use and connected land uses linking housing, jobs, and services 

  • Brownfield or polluted-site cleanup 

  • Transit-oriented development 

75 cities and 1 township are participating in the Livable Communities program in 2024. 

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