Nicollet Mall Economic Impact Study

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An economic impact study on the proposed Nicollet Mall redesign

Transcript of Nicollet Mall Economic Impact Study


    Prepared for the City of MinneapolisMarch, 2014

    Redevelopment Economics, Finance and Strategy

    2288 University Ave WestSaint Paul, MN 55114


  • INTRODUCTIONNicollet Mall is a twelve-block pedestrian and transit mall that since its 1968 construction, has

    served as a prominent symbol of Minnesota and its largest city, Minneapolis. During a period

    of stress on downtown retail and commercial districts, public and private investment in Nicollet

    Mall and adjacent structures helped to sustain downtown as a bulwark of the regional and state

    economy. Today, national market trends in housing and office are shifting, and remarkable

    growth in downtown Minneapolis presents a clear example of this change. Building on the

    public-private partnership model that put the mall in place in 1968, the City of Minneapolis,

    Minneapolis Downtown Council, and other private partners are collaborating to propose a $50

    million reconstruction of Nicollet Mall.

    The City has commissioned a targeted economic impact analysis to evaluate existing market

    trends and quantify certain economic effects of the reconstruction project. This report summarizes

    research and analysis conducted on an area comprised of over 2,000 parcels across 47 city


    HISTORY AND PLANS FOR REINVENTIONNicollet Avenues importance as a commercial spine in

    Minneapolis dates to the 19th century, when value of the street

    frontage supported early development of retailers such as

    Daytons, Donaldsons and Powers. By the mid-1950s, many

    residents of the region were choosing to leave previously

    established neighborhoods for suburban areas, where more

    dispersed housing was coupled with shopping centers easily

    accessible by car. In response, civic and business leaders in

    Minneapolis proposed and in 1968 constructed the nations

    first transit mall extending from Washington Avenue to 12th

    Street, to strengthen appeal both for retail and downtown investment.

    Over nearly half a century, Nicollet Mall presented a model that inspired many other American

    cities to introduce transit malls into their downtown landscape, including comparable cities

    of Denver, Chicago, Portland, and Madison. Several of these systems have, over time, been

    dismantled and returned to general use by cars, a concept considered and rejected in the past

    in Minneapolis. Nicollet spans across the densest concentration of jobs and market value in the

    state. Its reconstruction and elevation as a must-see destination is presented as a top priority

    in the Intersections Downtown 2025 Plan developed by the Minneapolis Downtown Council,

    and adopted by public and private stakeholders.

    In 2013, the City of Minneapolis coordinated a Nicollet Mall design competition to invite p

    roposals for the streets future. The selected proposal, submitted by James Corner Field

    Operations, has been adopted by the City and its private sector partners as the framework for

    investment and reconstruction of Nicollet Mall.


  • NICOLLET IN CONTEXT Downtown Minneapolis, surrounding Nicollet as a central north-south connection,

    maintained more stability as a center of trade and employment through the

    mid- to late-20th century than many similar central business districts. Recent years

    have brought a significant and visible increase in investment, primarily by private

    parties in residential and office development, and firms moving to or expanding

    in downtown Minneapolis. Over 130,000 people work in downtown Minneapolis

    each day, reflecting both stable small firm activity and continued investment in

    downtown employment locations by larger employers such as Xcel Energy, US

    Bancorp, Ameriprise, Wells Fargo, and Target. Downtown, as a center for

    headquarters within a region where 19 Fortune 500 firms are based, has benefited

    from investment and activity required to provide research and development,

    professional services, marketing and design, both to larger firms based in the

    region and to larger external markets.

    Goals established by the Downtown Council also suggest an opportunity to

    maximize Nicollet Mall as a destination and amenity for residents. The Council is

    targeting a doubling of downtown population to 70,000 residents, addition of

    three million square feet of office space and 200,000 square feet of retail, and

    introduction of 1,100 hotel rooms into the downtown market. The need to

    leverage Nicollet Mall as a public square, providing public space for this range of

    users, is expected to grow with the added concentration of people downtown.

    PROPOSED RECONSTRUCTIONThe City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Downtown Council propose to take advantage

    of the need to reconstruct Nicollet Mall, by drawing on forward-thinking design that reflects

    a range of current and intended uses. The proposal, developed by design firm James Corner

    Field Operations, is intended to emphasize the close proximity of the Mississippi River, the core

    of the downtown business district, and the Loring Park area. More specifically, the plan focuses

    on three sections to propose changes to Nicollet Mall:

    Build a Mississippi Woods segment along the northern section of Nicollet between

    Washington Avenue and 4th Street, to provide public space for new development

    that includes a 26-story apartment tower, recently announced development of the

    Ritz Block, expected expansion of Xcel headquarters, and the Minneapolis Central

    Library. Adding trees and gardens, performance space and lighting, and maintaining

    street right of way for bicycles and buses is designed to support projected residential

    and office growth in this zone of Nicollet.

    Prioritize the heavily used middle segment between 6th and 8th Streets by establishing

    the Nicollet Island area, to support the core of the downtown Minneapolis employment

    concentration. Reconstruction in this segment is proposed to include wide stairways

    facing each other and connecting the skyway level and street level, with intermediate

    space used for the farmers market and seasonal events and amenities.


  • Highlight Nicollets arts and entertainment focus, and point toward Loring Park, by

    creating the Loring Woods segment south of 12th Street. This section is proposed to

    include a wide variety of tree types and sizes, to provide a destination for visitors,

    residents and workers downtown.

    The City and the Minneapolis Downtown Council have together proposed financing the $50

    million reconstruction project with public and private sources:

    Assessments are expected to be used to raise capital from benefiting owners of property on

    and near Nicollet Mall.


  • ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF NICOLLET RECONSTRUCTIONThe reconstruction of Nicollet Mall has been designed and proposed as an investment in a next

    era of use and success for downtown Minneapolis. Over the last 45 years, Nicollet Mall has

    provided a unique addition to the central business districts network as downtowns only transit

    and pedestrian mall. Following a protracted public dialogue about the transition of Nicollet to

    transit mall, the new malls transformation prompted $50 million of redevelopment in the

    following three years.

    The current proposal is to reconstruct Nicollet Mall, rather than transition from typical street to

    transit and pedestrian mall. The opportunity is also different: The reconstruction is proposed

    to support and coincide with a marked increase in the development appetite for residences

    and office uses downtown, particularly along Nicollet. As a result, economic benefits will be

    directly produced by, or in other cases supported by, the reconstruction of Nicollet Mall. These

    benefits are produced primarily in six interconnected ways that merit individual discussion.

    Stimulating statewide business activity and employment. Initial economic impact of the Nicollet Mall reconstruction will occur during design and construction of the project. The budgeted

    $50 million of spending will flow through the economy, creating additional economic activity

    and jobs in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region and statewide. These impacts will occur in the

    construction sector and in other sectors, as dollars are spent and cycle through the regional

    economy. The estimated economic consequence of the $50 million reconstruction is $105.5

    million in additional spending within Minnesota, and creation of 860 full-time equivalent jobs (FTEs).

    Expanding visitorship. Convention and meeting visitors attending events in downtown Min-neapolis are important to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region, and to Minnesota. In 2012, nearly

    28 million visitors spent $6.88 billion in the region. Visitors spend an average of $79 per day

    of their visit, and an average over $185 per trip, excluding transportation costs. Nicollet Mall

    reconstruction will strengthen the regions attractiveness for convention business, which could

    translate to increased visitors over time. Such increases translate into elevated spending levels,

    and additional collections of Minneso