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Study highlights demand for diverse housing in University District area

The University District Alliance, a community group that works to address neighborhood-level issues in the areas surrounding the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus, hosted a recent forum about the district's housing demands.

The University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Urban Land Institute Minnesota cosponsored the event.

At the forum, people got a chance to learn about the findings of a district-wide housing market study, for which the alliance contracted with Minneapolis-based Maxfield Research, a real estate research and consulting firm, according to Kris Nelson, a CURA staffer who also presented at the event. Nelson serves on the alliance's housing committee.

The study, which incorporates U.S. Census statistics, shows that in keeping with the area's population boom in the period from 2000 to 2010, the next decade could bring an influx of another thousand households, including a mix of students, young professionals, and older adults and seniors, he says. 

He says the district is attractive because it's rich in amenities, including an historic character and plenty of cultural and educational opportunities. It's also centrally located near the Mississippi riverfront and downtown, with easy access to public transit.

But considering the area's high concentration of student renters and little home ownership, "There's a concern that neighborhoods are in danger of becoming destabilized," while off-campus student housing is often crowded and poorly managed, he says. 

To help counteract that, some community members have expressed interest in the possibility of active adult and senior housing in the district that would specifically target university alumni--a possibility that was also a trigger of the study, he says.
All in all, the study reinforces the fact that there needs to "be more diversity of housing and more sustainability in the long-term," with some higher-density townhouses or multistory houses, not just single-family homes, to meet the needs, he says. 

Source: Kris Nelson, CURA
Writer: Anna Pratt

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