Community works

Celebrating more than 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

2015 Program Snapshot

50 Businesses helped create a Minnehaha Avenue streetscape plan to foster economic vitality along this commercial corridor
Ongoing planning and development of walkable, bikeable places primed for Southwest light rail transit and new and stronger businesses
Affordable homes sized for working families built on the Midtown Greenway at the Greenway Heights development
2.2 Miles of Lowry Avenue NE corridor redesigned to be more attractive, safer for all, and to encourage development at key intersections
20 Strategies to enhance livability and stimulate economic development along the Penn Avenue corridor
8 Rainwater management best practices recommended to treat and reduce runoff into the Mississippi River along Lowry Avenue NE
200 Plantings for a landscape restoration and a shade tree canopy along the Midtown and Minnehaha-Hiawatha corridors
3000+ Attendees at events that Community Works supported as a partner, designed to strengthen commercial corridors and showcase ideas for future public spaces and activities along the Midtown, Minnehaha-Hiawatha and Penn Avenue corridors.
78 Percent of surveyed bikers and walkers responded positively to design experiments to improve wayfinding on and around the Midtown Greenway
11 Station area plans completed along the proposed METRO Blue Line Extension [Bottineau LRT]
1.4 Acres of prime property acquired to facilitate commercial development near the future Shady Oak Road LRT station
2.5 Acres of publicly owned land along Lowry Avenue North now slated for an array of new housing options

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

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.

Humboldt Community Works

Northside housing challenge

By the early 1990s, this North Minneapolis area was facing a declining tax base, diminishing population and increasing crime and blight brought on by neighborhood disinvestment. The housing units were outdated and deteriorating, unable to meet needs of an aging population or increasingly diverse community. Community Works drew on the community's aspirations and built on nearby assets, including two schools, Shingle Creek and the trail system, to help transform the neighborhood.


Nearly 200 new, architecturally distinctive single family homes, townhouses, and affordable senior rental apartments provide life cycle housing for the community, allowing new families the space to grow and longtime residents the opportunity to age in place.

Public investments included a community commons, trails, greenways, and parkways. These new green spaces not only connect residents to community assets, but contribute to higher land values and the environmental sustainability of the neighborhood.

Gaining ground in the metropolitan housing market

  • Estimated market value of residential properties in Lind-Bohanon declined on average 0.1% to 10% from 1990 to 1995.
  • Building permit activity worth $65 million occurred within a quarter-mile of the program area from 1999 to 2014.
  • Property values within a quarter mile of the program area increased 37% vs. 29% in a nearby comparison area from 2001 to 2013.
Neighborhood disinvestment  --
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