Community works

Celebrating 20 years of collaboration, connection and transformation.

Since 1994, Hennepin County Community Works has partnered with cities and other agencies, businesses, neighborhood organizations and county residents to build the long-term value of communities, create and sustain great places, and make quality investments in redevelopment, transportation, public works infrastructure, parks, trails and the environment.

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News and updates

Community Works 20th Anniversary Celebration

More than 115 Community Works partners, colleagues and friends celebrated the programs 20th anniversary at the Midtown Global Market on Thursday, October 9, 2014. 

  • William Morrish, esteemed Professor of Urban Ecologies and Design Strategies at Parsons the New School for Design and former director of the Design Center for American Urban Landscape at the University of Minnesota, delivered the keynote address. 
  • The Citizens League’s Sean Kershaw moderated a follow up panel discussion with Morrish, Caren Dewar (Urban Land Institute Minnesota), Andriana Abariotes (Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and Jim Campbell (former chair/CEO of Wells Fargo).
  • Celebration participants nominated friends and colleagues for special recognition of their contributions as Ardent Advocates, Bureaucracy Busters, Fearless Founders, Ingenius Innovators, and Unsung Heroes.

Hand places community works award nomination on board

Participants nominated friends and colleagues for special recognition of the roles they took on as community works partners: unsung hero, fearless founder, bureaucracy buster, etc.
Participants nominated friends and colleagues for special recognition of the roles they took on as community works partners: unsung hero, fearless founder, bureaucracy buster, etc.

Program efforts and locations

Community Works programs

To date, eight Community Works programs have been established or affirmed by county board resolution:

Community Works program map

Coordinated Community Works investments

Additionally, Community Works resources have been authorized by the board through the capital improvement plan budget to leverage outcomes consistent with Community Works programs without the official Community Works program designation. These include:

  • 66th Street
  • Daylighting Creeks
  • Brooklyn Corridor/Stable Neighborhoods Action Plan or SNAP
  • Fort Snelling
  • Victory Memorial Drive
  • Van White

Mission and goals


In the early 1990s, the county board established a commission to develop recommendations and principles for Hennepin Community Works, a cross-jurisdictional, collaborative community redevelopment approach that would address a range of issues confronting urban neighborhoods and suburban municipalities, including:

  • Decreased employment
  • Steady growth of public assistance case loads
  • Soaring crime rates
  • Deteriorating and abandoned housing and commercial property

In its foundational report, the commission identified the profound impact of these trends: "… the public cost of this deterioration can be measured by the decline in tax revenues realized and the corresponding increase of public expenditures on income maintenance, public services, health care and social services.…”


To enhance how the communities of Hennepin County work together to create good jobs, provide access to employment, and build the long term value of communities by investing in infrastructure, public works, parks, and the natural environment and by improving the existing implementation systems.


  • Enhance the tax base
  • Stimulate economic development and job growth
  • Strengthen and connect places and people
  • Innovate and advance sustainability
  • Lead collaborative planning and implementation

Characteristics for Success

  • Coordinated investment – comprehensive planning frameworks identify legacy infrastructure investments that reenergize the development cycle in challenged neighborhoods and ensure partner commitment over time
  • Collaboration at all levels – collaboration with internal partners and external agencies establishes partner buy-in, aligns and leverages investment and develops a coalition of support for the vision
  • Innovative strategies – comprehensive and flexible strategies integrate transportation infrastructure, land use and economic development; support cross-jurisdictional and multidisciplinary approaches and seed the market
  • Community-focused – adaptable community engagement approaches address unique needs, provide for robust participation and ensure a community-supported vision that overcomes challenges
  • Rooted in place – places of need and opportunity are identified through data-driven research and place-based amenity investments in open space and county infrastructure serve as economic drivers

Program outcomes

Evaluation highlights

Community Works program investments show strong, positive tax-base impacts. 

  • More than $883 million in public and private investment has been attracted to Community Works programs areas. 
  • Average property values increased 17 percentage points more in Community Works program areas than in surrounding communities. 

Community Works programs also have made positive, tangible changes that improve quality of life: 13 acres of open space, three miles of enhanced waterways, 50 acres of developable land and 19.5 miles of sidewalks and trails have been created or improved in program areas. 

Detailed evaluation findings

Community Works Evaluation Report front cover

Community Works Evaluation Report (PDF/2014)

This evaluation reflects on 20 years of outcomes and lessons learned from implementing Community Works programs, including an evaluation of past performance, as well as recommendations for addressing future program opportunities and management. 

Community Works Data and Evaluation Background (PDF/2014)

This data supplement to the evaluation report above provides more details on the evaluation plan, performance and outcome metrics, and the challenges in measuring this work.

Previous evaluation efforts

Changes in estimated market values in Community works program areas (1999-2013)

Changes in crime rates in Community Works program areas (1999-2013)

Midtown Greenway Report Card (PDF/2011)

Highlights four performance measures (employment, property values, crime rates, and trail use) to help understand some of the changes that have occurred in the Midtown corridor since the construction of the greenway. 

A County and Its Cities: the Impact of Hennepin Community Works (PDF/2008)

This Journal of Urban Affairs article by the University of Minnesota's Judith Martin and Justin Jacobson explores the unique development of the Community Works program, its innovative approach and the range of investment.

Midtown community works

Transforming a neglected corridor

In the mid-1990s, a historic but neglected railroad trench in south Minneapolis was attracting crime and contributing to blight in nearby neighborhoods. The Midtown Community Works program developed a high-quality transportation and recreational amenity that has strengthened nearby businesses, helped retain residents and attracted new investment, while preserving options for future transit in the corridor.

A destination greenway

The Midtown Greenway is a top urban bike path (USA Today, 2013) and busy regional route, at 5.7 miles, it is a desirable east-west link across the city and a key part of the metropolitan bikeway network. Used daily by up to 4,000 cyclists and 550 pedestrians -- and more than 1.5 million total users annually. It has stabilized and increased nearby land values and stimulated economic revitalization both locally -- along the
parallel Lake Street corridor -- and on a metropolitan scale.


  • Property values within a quarter-mile of the greenway increased 98 percent (2001 to 2013) vs. 81 percent for nearby comparison areas -- a 17 point difference
  • $750 million dollars of building permit activity occurred within a quarter-mile of the Midtown Greenway from 2005 to 2014
  • Allina Hospitals and Clinics leased more than 400,000 square feet of office space and residential and hotel properties have opened at Midtown Exchange

Midtown Community Works Partnership

Since 1998, the Midtown Community Works Partnership, made up of elected, business and community leaders has been committed to unifying public policy around a common vision for the Midtown Greenway/Lake Street Corridor and mobilizing the public and private investments necessary to implement this vision. Learn more about the partnership.

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