Sow Low-Density Residential; Reap Lack of Retail

The cautionary tale of “a very suburban kerfuffle” in Blaine, Minnesota: residents of a “large, multi-builder housing development” who once opposed a multi-family residential development in the neighborhood now lament a lack of retail.
March 22, 2014, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Julie Kosbab makes the “you reap what you sow” argument regarding density (or lack thereof) by telling the story of “The Lakes” development in Blaine, Minnesota.

“Within a large, multi-builder housing development, there were several commercial plots. Despite the housing boom in the area, no one would step up to develop them as commercial, because no one wanted to occupy a potentially developed property.” The reticence of developers to build commercial uses in The Lakes is explained by a lack of density, for which residents have no one to blame but themselves, according to Kosbab.

“[One] of the biggest protests in Blaine City Council history was when a builder proposed a 157-unit luxury apartment complex on a nearby plot.” And you can probably guess what happened next: “Due to neighborhood protest, the plan for this added density was shot down.”

“Now, many of the same residents who opposed the apartments are shrieking that they were 'misled' because they were prooooomised retail! And now those mean builders want to build more homes instead!”

The lesson, according to Kosbab: “Even small retail with high-end appeal (childcare? yoga? coffee?) requires a degree of density to support the cost of the property and reasonable financials.”

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Published on Thursday, March 13, 2014 in Streets.MN
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