Builders learned valuable lessons from Minneapolis moratorium

  • Article by: SHAWN NELSON
  • Updated: April 22, 2014 - 6:49 PM

Communication, patience and rules are critical in addressing residential development issues.

The Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) lauds the recent action of the Minneapolis City Council to lift the interim ordinance and moratorium on residential development in the Armatage, Fulton, Kenny, Linden Hills and Lynnhurst neighborhoods. It’s exciting to see our members get back to work on behalf of their clients, for whom this has been a traumatic experience.

BATC represents nearly 1,100 member firms engaged in all phases of the homebuilding, land development and remodeling industries in the Twin Cities area, and we were deeply engaged in the moratorium discussion.

What we don’t want to lose sight of in all of the passionate debate about replacing or expanding used homes is that redevelopment is a wonderful problem to have. Countless cities across America are envious of the magnetic draw that Minneapolis has.

That being said, we acknowledge that real challenges exist in redevelopment of core cities. We heard dramatic testimony about those issues from residents. Reflecting on this process, here’s what we learned:

1. Open communication is key to managing this issue. Once BATC, the Realtors, architects, trades and city staff sat down at the table, a powerful construction management agreement resulted. There is great value in having these key industry groups at the table.

2. This is a process best served by taking some time. We understand why proponents put forward the moratorium, but we also know that our industry will join in conversation about this and other issues readily.

3. We learned that our members want good, strong rules and want them to be enforced. There’s nothing more frustrating than playing by the rules while others don’t. Clearly, a substantial portion of this issue arose due to silos in the city and lack of effective enforcement. That’s no excuse for bad behavior, but effective enforcement is essential.

No doubt the issue of removing used houses and replacing them with new ones will arise in other Twin Cities communities. BATC stands ready to meet with the council or mayor of any city seeking a productive dialogue to address this challenging issue. We’ve demonstrated our earnest desire to help the market respectfully meet demand. We learned that a well-intentioned trade association with an active membership can make a difference, and we look forward to doing so again.

Shawn Nelson is the owner of New Spaces in Burnsville.

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