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The Life and Death of Neighborhood Rebrandings

Surveying the history of neighborhood rebranding in Minneapolis is like taking a tour of post-recession redevelopment.
September 12, 2019, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Sam Wagner

There have been plenty of misfires in addition to one big success story when it comes to efforts to rebrand neighborhoods around the city of Minneapolis, according to an article by Jessica Lee.

Lee commences this survey of Minnesota recent neighborhood rebranding history with the example of one building, actually, a 48-unit apartment complex at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Lake Street and the first development of its kind in that area.

According to Lee, "the project included a feature that has also become an increasingly common element of new development in Minneapolis: a new name, one not only intended to identify the building, but rebrand its surroundings. The building at 811 East Lake Street, in the heart of the city’s Latino neighborhoods, has been christened SoPHI' for south of Phillips."

While that building isn't yet ready for residents, it does stand as the most conspicuous of many obvious signs of change in the neighborhood. Still, a local source admits, no is walking around calling the neighborhood SoPHI.

There is one especially prominent example of a neighborhood rebranding catching on in Minneapolis: North Loop, described by Lee as "by far the most successful example of a neighborhood rebrand in Minneapolis." Forbes called it one of the country's best hipster neighborhoods.

The question posed by lee, then, is "why do some rebranding efforts in Minneapolis work — while so many others do not? "

For an answer, Lee turns to Chris Lautenschlager, who leads the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association in addition to the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood. In Lautenschlager's opinion, "[o]ne-off ideas by developers or business leaders with big marketing campaigns often fail," while "names that fit with the community — or ones that residents think of themselves — seem to stick." 

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Published on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 in MinnPost
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