The Near Northside of Minneapolis evolved early in the 1900’s as a relatively compact and cohesive neighborhood on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. Starting in the 1930s, four public housing developments – Sumner Field Homes (constructed 1935), and Olson, Lyndale and Glenwood (all constructed in the late 1950s) were developed adjacent to one another in the heart of the community. In the 1960s, the blocks immediately west of the public housing sites were combined into a superblock cutting off street access between the public housing sites and the surrounding community, resulting in further isolation, concentrated poverty and the common resulting effects of crime, deeper poverty and segregation.
In 1992, the public housing developments were the target of a lawsuit, Hollman vs. Cisneros. As part of the Hollman vs. Cisneros Consent Decree, a community-based focus group in 1996 provided a set of recommendations for the site’s re-use. Focus groups set goals for the transformation of the site into a stable, mixed-income neighborhood that would lessen the concentration of poverty, provide opportunities for greater self-sufficiency of its low-income residents, and support the viability of this new neighborhood by connecting it in meaningful ways with the surrounding community.
McCormack Baron Salazar, in a joint venture with Legacy Management & Development Corporation, was selected to be the master planner and lead developer for the Near Northside Development in July 1999. In September 1999, McCormack Baron Salazar began a Master Planning effort for the 123-acre site which included extensive community participation. The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and the Minneapolis City Council unanimously adopted the Master Plan in March 2000 and construction began in 2001.
The new community, called Heritage Park, includes 900 total homes. Of these, 440 are rental homes (including both family apartments and townhomes and senior building) and 360 are for-sale. The rental homes include public housing, workforce, and market rate. The for-sale component included offering homes to lower income families, workforce families and market rate families. The new community connects back to the surrounding community and the larger city both figuratively, through vernacular architecture and a density of homes consistent with that in the surrounding area, and physically, through a reconnected street grid, bicycle and walking trails, sidewalks, street lights, and a parkway-style entry into the community. In addition, there are safe pedestrian routes to amenities such as the public library, community centers, 24 acres of parkland, neighborhood retail and schools.