Downtown Minneapolis gets a Woonerf between affordable housing and a 55+ community… what’s a Woonerf?!

When I first heard of the development plans at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 2nd Street in downtown Minneapolis a couple years ago I was excited to hear about both affordable housing and a 55+ senior housing community bringing diversity to the downtown housing mix. But I confess that what excited me the most was the creative way this development was using the history of the site as a railroad corridor to inspire the creation of a "woonerf" connecting to the riverfront and Water Works Signature Park scheduled to be built 2017-2023. So what is a "woonerf"?

"Woonerf" is a concept that originated in the Netherlands that roughly translates as "living streets," viewing the street as a social space rather than just a route for cars, trucks and buses. There are no curbs, streets are curved, there is landscaping, parking is dispersed… all designed to make a driver feel uncomfortable and slow down making it safe for all modes of transportation including pedestrians, cars, and bikes.

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Mill City Quarter affordable housing at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 2nd Street is already open and 70% leased. Abiitan 55+ entrance deposit community on 2nd Street is now accepting reservations, with plans to open in December 2016.

The Woonerf between the two buildings will create a connection to the riverfront, which is so near yet so far because of lack of a connection from the bluff. Now basically a private curved parking area closed off with a fence at the end, the corridor that will become Minneapolis's first "woonerf" won't be complete until it makes its connection to the riverfront and Water Works Park, a cutting-edge mix of recreation, ecology, and cultural heritage.

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Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – Downtown Minneapolis Realtor

HomesMSP Team - SharleneJohnAngela Minneapolis-St. Paul Neighborhoods

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