Twin Cities' Green Line Emphasizes Community Integration
Major infrastructure projects such as railway constructions often result in displacement of adjacent homes as well as negative impacts to surrounding businesses. As Jessica Leber reports, in building the Green Line light rail line to connect Minneapolis and St. Paul, everyone from the "government, nonprofits, businesses, and the local community" convened from the planning stage to avoid such outcomes.
Aptly named the Corridor of Opportunities project, the Twin Cities' collaborative effort was possible due to support from the nonprofit organization Living Cities and its Integration Initiative. Leber describes the goals of the initiative: "For the last three years, the initiative has provided a total of $85 million in grants, low-interest loans, and market-rate loans…To get everyone who has a stake in the city’s future working together to tackle a specific problem."
The Integration Initiative grants in conjunction with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allowed the Corridor of Opportunities team to approach the transit-oriented project with the interest of the communities in mind: "[The team] created city staff jobs devoted to transit-oriented development and passed laws that changed the system, such as assigning greater weight to affordable housing projects located near transit" as well as "financing seven mixed-income and affordable housing development [sic]…about two dozen smaller projects and market research studies that would not only bolster the communities disrupted by construction and [sic] but also protect them from inevitably rising land values in the future." Other efforts included "fund[ing] facade and infrastructure improvements to help businesses improve their own look."
Leber notes the project's successful outcome: "Of 350 businesses that received assistance during the period of heavy construction, only four folded." Nine other cities are currently working with the Livable Cities' Integration Initiative.