Penn Avenue community works

Established in 2012, the Penn Avenue community works program is dedicated to stimulating economic development, beautification, livability and job creation along the Penn Avenue corridor in North Minneapolis. It is also designed to support other neighborhood investments, including the Hennepin County Human Services Hub, the Bottineau and Southwest light rail transit (LRT) lines, and enhanced bus rapid transit (BRT) service for the benefit of Penn Avenue corridor neighborhoods. The program area encompasses the corridor between the planned Southwest LRT station near I-394 and Osseo Road and 49th Avenue North — see map below.

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News and updates

Key milestone reached

In March, Penn Avenue Community Works reached a key milestone when the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved the Penn Avenue Community Works Implementation Framework.

This means project staff will be proceeding with plans and projects laid out by the framework, and will return to the board for guidance and approval of specific actions and investments as broad initiatives in the framework are refined over time. 

It also means that a number of specific initiatives in the framework will advance this year. Those include: 

  • Funding support for the business incubator space at the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) on West Broadway
  • 44th and Penn greening project
  • Lincoln School (12th Avenue and Penn) - greening and stormwater management project 
  • Design work on Penn Avenue intersections with bus rapid transit (BRT) bump-outs
  • Request for Proposals (RFPs) for development at the northeast and northwest corners of Penn and Lowry

We're excited to share news and opportunities as these projects gear up, so make sure to subscribe to updates about the Penn Avenue program!

You're invited to join a new working group

As the program transitions into an action and implementation phase, several working groups are being established to help develop and achieve implementation goals on a range of topics. We encourage you to stay involved or get involved by joining a working group. Each group will meet quarterly beginning in June. To be included, send us an email and note which group or groups interest you. We'll send out details once dates and times are set for each group. 

Working groups

Penn Avenue community works has formed three working groups based on focus areas identified in the Penn Avenue Implementation Framework. Each working group advises and guides project implementation efforts, assists with community outreach and engagement efforts and provides community expertise. Learn more about the guidelines for these working groups (PDF).

Housing and economic development/redevelopment

  • Develop land
  • Housing cluster strategy
  • Jobs
  • Repurpose publicly owned lots
  • Renter assistance
  • Possible TOD allocation
  • and more

Livability and placemaking

  • Play on Penn
  • community gardens
  • Lincoln school
  • 44th and Penn greening project
  • community building
  • and more

Infrastructure and Transit

  • Streetscape
  • C Line bus rapid transit (BRT)
  • Penn Avenue intersection reconstruction
  • Road segment reconstruction
  • Bicycle infrastructure
  • Pedestrian lighting
  • and more 

Penn Avenue Vision and Implementation Framework - Spring 2016

In the next five years, Penn Avenue will benefit from two major public investments: Metro Transit's C Line bus rapid transit (BRT) service and a coordinated redesign of the road that includes streetscape improvements. The Penn Avenue Vision and Implementation Framework leverages those investments with a series of recommendations that are designed to stimulate economic development, promote beautification and enhance livability along the Penn Avenue corridor.

The framework document is the result of more than two years of planning from Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis, Metro Transit and communities in North Minneapolis. It is intended to guide decision-making and future investments in multimodal transportation, land use, economic development, housing and placemaking. While the Framework has been endorsed by the Penn Avenue Community Works Steering Committee and approved by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, its success depends on the commitment, focus and actions of all of the partners going forward.

The Penn Avenue Vision and Implementation Framework is available in chapters that can be downloaded separately:


Program goals

1. Re-envision Penn Avenue as a complete street with:

  • Better bus service
  • Pedestrian improvements and bicycle connections
  • Streetscaping (landscaping the street with trees, planters, green space, etc.)

2. Promote economic opportunity and stimulating private investment by:

  • Improving the street and public places
  • Attracting housing and commercial development
  • Supporting existing businesses and attracting new ones

3. Enhance the livability of corridor communities by:

  • Developing better connections to key destinations
  • Improving public places and supporting activities that encourage community gathering and ownership

Program history

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners established the Penn Avenue community works program in May 2012 to stimulate economic development, beautification, livability and job creation along the Penn Avenue corridor in North Minneapolis.

Program partners

  • Hennepin County
  • Metro Transit
  • City of Minneapolis
  • Stakeholders, including neighborhood and other community organizations
  • People who live, work, play, visit and worship in the corridor

C Line bus rapid transit (BRT) on Penn Avenue

C Line bus rapid transit (BRT) on Penn Avenue

C Line BRT on Penn Avenue will provide fast, reliable bus service with enhanced station amenities similar to LRT. The C Line does not require street widening or wide-scale removal of parking lanes, and offers:

  • Buses that come so often you won't need a schedule, and they make fewer stops, so you'll be moving more of the time.
  • Faster boarding (since you pay your fare before you get on) and fare enforcement by the Transit Police (like the train).
  • "Stops" will become "stations" with heated shelters, more transit information, better maps, and real-time departure signs, so you'll always know when the bus is coming.
  • Stations will have security cameras, emergency phones, and improved lighting, so they will be safer.
  • BRT buses will look different, be more recognizable, and have wider aisles and additional doors, so more people can get on and off easily.

The C Line could be constructed as early as 2017, pending funding availability. Planning on the project has advanced in coordination with Penn Avenue Community Works in 2014 and 2015, and detailed design on the C Line will begin in 2016. 

More information on BRT, including the proposed C Line route and station locations, is available online from Metro Transit at

How was the routing for BRT determined? How will it connect to future light rail?

Like the route 19 it will substantially replace, the C Line is designed to carry the high volume of riders along Penn Avenue and Olson Memorial Highway (Highway 55) to downtown. Most current users of route 19 will be served by the new C Line. Route 19 will continue to run along Penn Avenue at revised frequencies to meet riders’ needs.

A strong connection to Southwest LRT is planned at Royalston Station, optimizing better service along Olson Memorial Highway and faster travel for most users’ trips.

The C Line is not a good candidate for connecting with Southwest LRT at Penn Avenue Station. The majority of C Line riders will be destined for downtown Minneapolis and forcing those customers to transfer to Southwest LRT to complete their trip would create a significant time penalty for those riders. However, as part of the connecting bus route planning phase for Southwest LRT, other connecting bus service from North Minneapolis to the Penn Avenue LRT station will be considered.

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