To Fix Its Housing Crunch, One U.S. City Takes Aim at the Single-Family Home

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To Fix Its Housing Crunch, One U.S. City Takes Aim at the Single-Family Home

July 31, 2019, 4:00 AM CDT

Minneapolis’s answer to rising prices is meant to foster density and racial equity.

By Noah Buhayar

The crowd at the Bauhaus Brew Labs was thick with flannel and knit beanies, with the odd “Beto for President” T-shirt thrown in. But the handful of patrons gathered by the glass garage doors of the cavernous Minneapolis taproom in March weren’t regulars. They’d turned out for the kickoff of a website called vox.MN. Their nametags said things like “I [heart] my neighborhood.” Another had a circle with “2040” inside and a line running through it, like a no-smoking sign.

That was a reference to Minneapolis 2040, the sweeping new urban plan local officials approved in December. Spelled out in a more than 1,000-page document, it makes this city of 428,000 one of the first and largest in the U.S. to end single-family zoning, which applies to 70% of Minneapolis’s residential land. Developers will soon be able to build duplexes and triplexes without going through the time and expense of applying for a variance or confronting the kind of neighborhood opposition that often stymies such projects.

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