Will Stancil writes in favor of Minneapolis 2040 (“Minneapolis 2040 helps address inequality,” Nov. 14). He points directly at the plan’s allowance of “by-right triplex construction in all Minneapolis neighborhoods,” stating that this new policy “should be understood as a landmark fair housing policy.”
What Stancil fails to understand is the economics of building anew in my Fulton neighborhood. Let’s do the math on a new triplex.
Home purchase and demolition cost: $350,000, minimum. Now on your newly bulldozed 10th-of-an-acre lot you can build a two-story triplex. Using existing code and setback limits, let us say you squeeze in three units. Each unit has two bedrooms at a total build cost of around $600,000.
So you are now invested at nearly a million dollars. To service the debt, pay for upkeep, taxes, maintenance, your labor and vacancies, and to eke out a tiny profit, you will need to rent these two-bedroom units for $2,500 per a month.
No developer/investor is going to take on that level of risk for such a small return. Meanwhile, the home being destroyed had a mortgage payment lower than rent on one of the new units. And mortgages don’t go up with inflation as rent does. Triplexes like the “Freyplexes” aren’t much of an issue in the Minneapolis 2040 plan.
What is further perplexing is that Stancil co-authored a commentary on Dec. 1, 2016 (“Gentrification isn’t the rental problem; poverty is”), squarely putting the housing affordability crisis at the feet of “falling incomes” and not that of rising rents. Stancil in 2016 asked: “What’s more likely to cause a housing affordability crisis: a 44 percent collapse in black median incomes or a 6 percent increase in average rents?” He went on to talk about how rents were “stagnant” and “increasing only $3 per year since 2000.” So — is collapse of income or lack of rezoned land causing our housing crisis?
The vast majority of people living in southwest Minneapolis disapprove of the plan’s broad reach and see it for what it is. Minneapolis 2040 will allow major developers entry to the property adjacent to roads listed as “transportation corridors.” These parcels of land adjacent to transportation corridors are nearly all single-family homes in Fulton. In fact, these so-called “transportation corridors” in my neighborhood are streets with mostly single-family homes and one bus line.
With Minneapolis 2040, the developers will be allowed to combine newly acquired lots and build apartment buildings with no limit to the number of units. The crux of the problem is the new zoning map. The new map is overkill and will create a hodgepodge of buildings types.
I chose to live in the city because I like the hustle bustle and walkability. I am not opposed to development and in fact want more, but this plan uses a 50-pound sledgehammer when a ball peen will work just fine. Rezoning thousands of single-family homes into “interior 2 and 3” or “corridor 4” apartment complexes needs to change.
Mayor Frey, Councilwoman Bender and long-range city planner Worthington: Please temper your idealism with a dose of realism.
Matt Larson lives in Minneapolis.