The federally-fueled demolition push in St. Paul and Minneapolis that Whistleblower has been blogging about house by house got some big-picture treatment, thanks to reporting by my colleague Chris Havens.
The numbers are striking: Minneapolis is planning to knock down 150 homes in the next 18 months, up from 34 in 2006, while St. Paul wants to raze between 90 and 130 buildings this year. Altogether, the cities demolished 369 houses from 2006 to 2008. A typical street in the Minneapolis grid has 14-15 homes on each side, so if all these homes were adjacent to each other, the flattened area is the equivalent of 12 city blocks. That’s a big jump for recent years, but as a planning expert points out in Havens’ story, it follows in the footsteps of the massive demolitions that accompanied “urban renewal” and highway construction in the 1950s, 1960s, and the late 1970s through the early 1980s.
Another interesting stat: St. Paul’s 1,900 vacant homes are more than double the 840 vacant and boarded houses registered in Minneapolis.
Although it doesn’t appear this web site has been updated regularly, the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County have set up an interactive map showing the locations of homes targeted for demolition and their current status.
St. Paul is also trying to ensure those properties left behind are fire-safe, particularly in the size of their egress windows. On Wednesday, our online readers got to see the story Havens and I wrote about the controversial code crackdown in St. Paul. Before the story went to press, we weren’t able to determine whether Minneapolis had the same policy. This week, Patrick Higgins, Minneapolis’s building official, said there’s no comparable window enforcement effort, because it has been part of the rental license inspections for years. As a result, “most of our licensed rental units in Minneapolis have them,” Higgins said.