Portland Avenue Minneapolis Minnesota


The Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis is often compared to Ellis Island in New York City. It is the Minneapolis community where most new immigrants reside before relocating to other areas. The 1995 "People of Phillips Neighborhood Action Plan" stated, "Phillips is a microcosm of the larger world population, as we have a broad spectrum of humanity represented within the blocks that comprise Phillips." But this diverse neighborhood has suffered. In the early 1990s, it was considered an urban blight as the poorest and highest-crime area in Minneapolis. The Portland Place project represents a catalyst redevelopment of two city blocks to provide 51 affordable homes. In many ways Portland Place spawned the resurgence of the entire neighborhood.

The site for the project is adjacent to the former Honeywell headquarters (which recently merged with Allied Signal and moved to their headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey). Honeywell had a long-term presence in the community and wanted to help the deteriorating neighborhood that surrounded it. The mayor of the city also pushed Honeywell to get involved. In the mid-1990s, Honeywell bought up two city blocks and donated the land for the project, along with $3 million toward redevelopment. With these donations, the company insisted that the project be structured as an ownership model (versus rented) with a homeowners association established to ensure the long-term viability of the community. The community agreed with this model and also felt strongly about maintaining the scale of the neighborhood.

Around the same time this project was in the early conception stages, the city was also in the process of creating the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program, establishing 82 neighborhood groups to essentially function as community development corporations. The program required each neighborhood group to develop a needs assessment and master plan. Later a pool of approximately $60 million was allocated to provide these groups

"This project caused a resurgence of redevelopment for the area—creating a ripple effect outward of reinvestment."

Chris Wilson director of real estate, Project for Pride in Living with funds to execute their approved plans, requiring a 50 percent allocation of funds to go to affordable housing. This program helped form the Phillips neighborhood group People of Phillips (POP), which shaped the development of Portland Place.

Honeywell and POP partnered with Project for Pride in Living (PPL), a nonprofit organization founded in 1972 focused on preserving or creating new affordable housing and revitalizing neighborhoods. Its mission is to assist lower-income people and families working toward self-sufficiency by providing housing, jobs, and training throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul Twin Cities metro area.


Total Development Cost: Cost/Unit: Cost/Sq Ft: Start Date: Completion Date:

Project Team Developer: Architect: General Contractor: MEP Engineer: Green Building Consultant:

51 units for direct purchase: 4 renovations and 47 newly constructed homes in a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, and townhomes (24 three-bedroom, 22 four-bedroom, 1 five-bedroom); 6 Habitat for Humanity homes for very low-income buyers (incomes below 30% of AMI) using sweat equity from owners and donated labor from volunteers; 32 of the units sold to families earning below 80% of AMI $11,892,440 $252,022 $146/sq ft

1995 for site assembly 2001

Project for Pride in Living LHB Engineers Flannery Construction LHB Engineers

Green Institute


A winner of the 2002 Minneapolis Committee on Urban Environment (CUE) awards.

Fannie Mae Foundation: Affordable Housing Design Finalist Maxwell Awards of Excellence Program.

PPL served the Portland Place project by managing all aspects of the project from inception to completion, as well as assembling the complex financing package.

Project for Pride in Living worked closely with many groups to address concerns and ultimately gain support for the project. Along with local architectural and engineering firm LHB, PPL hosted design charrettes around place making to achieve an appropriate scale, character, and identity, and to develop a new vision for the two-block development.1 The charrette participants came up with several overarching goals for the project: safety, affordabil-ity, comfort, and sustainability. The overall concept was to create a new village with a traditional street pattern and more open space. To accomplish this goal, the originally conceived 100 units were decreased to 51.

The restored neighborhood plan included small lot, single-family and duplex homes with porches combined with townhouses. In collaboration with PPL, Habitat for Humanity built 6 homes for very low-income residents (below 30 percent of area median income). Common space is featured on the interior of each of the two blocks providing a playground and green space. Contextual details of the home designs help blend the new homes into the surrounding neighborhood, including matching setbacks, traditional housing design features, and materials.

Chris Wilson, director of real estate for PPL, says, "This project caused a resurgence of redevelopment for the area, creating a ripple effect outward of reinvestment." Honeywell's leadership in neighborhood revitalization provided a model for another major employer, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, to launch a concentrated eight-block improvement program across the street from Portland Place a year later. This project provided home improvement grants to area residents and offered capital for the acquisition and rehabilitation of some of the most deteriorated rental housing units. The rental rehabilitation portion, coordinated by Joe Selvaggio, capped affordability controls at 40 percent of area median income for these rental units. Ownership of the rehabbed units was consolidated with PPL as the general partner. Wilson noted that these two projects complemented each other, providing a mix of affordable housing types.

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