This story was originally published by Twin Cities Business.
The population in downtown Minneapolis is still growing, but it appears to be slowing down.
According to figures released by the Minneapolis Downtown Council on Wednesday, the number of residents in the city’s urban core hit 56,748 in 2022. That marked an increase of about 1.2% over the prior year.
But that also marked the smallest percentage growth over the last five years. Downtown saw one of its biggest upticks in population in 2018, when the number of residents leapt by nearly 15%. Between 2020 and 2021, the population grew 3.5%.
The council shared the 2022 population figure amid a flurry of other statistics at its annual meeting at The Armory on Wednesday. A decade ago, the council set an ambitious goal to double the downtown population and hit about 70,000 residents by 2025. Whether that goal is realistic at this point remains unclear.
And though population growth slowed, construction activity remained robust. Council leaders noted that a total of 812 new apartment units opened in downtown in 2022. Meanwhile, developers pulled $1.9 billion worth of construction permits last year, marking the 11th consecutive year above $1 billion.
“New apartment buildings are on their way, including 550 units planned or under construction,” said Troy Blizzard, VP and general manager with Minneapolis construction giant Mortenson.
For downtown boosters, those figures are cause for celebration. In an email, Minneapolis Downtown Council spokesman Mark Remme acknowledged that population growth “was slower last year, but with the number of new downtown units under construction right now and in the pipeline for future development, the downtown residential base will continue to expand for several years to come.”
Meanwhile, as Downtown Council leaders see it, the city’s urban core is simply moving to a new chapter after two years of Covid setbacks.
“Our framework moving forward is to transition from reanimation – this notion of standing downtown back up – to embracing downtown’s next season,” council president and CEO Steve Cramer told attendees.
He noted that about 64% of the usual downtown workers had returned to their offices “in some capacity” each week. “Hybrid work is a part of our future – we all know that,” Cramer said. “But there are also some elements of being in the office that can’t be duplicated from the kitchen table or the home basement.”
Downtown leaders and boosters evidently remain optimistic. In a question-and-answer session with WCCO anchor Amelia Santaniello, mayor Jacob Frey said it’s time to “revel in the successes that are already taking place.” He pointed to a decrease in crime in the city and an uptick in the number of events downtown. By the council’s count, downtown welcomed about 8.5 million people at various events in 2022.
Still, the speakers acknowledged there’s work left to do. The Minneapolis Downtown Council plans to share its updated goals for the area in a 2035 plan, to be released within the coming weeks. “We’ll be tapping people on the shoulder to help, because we really do need everybody’s best thinking looking out to 2035,” Cramer said.
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