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Midtown Community Works

Midtown Community Works is the longest-running program of the community works initiative, a collaborative approach to redevelopment in key county corridors that the county launched in 1994.

The program’s chief goals are to:

  • Enhance how communities in the corridor work together to create good jobs
  • Provide access to employment
  • Build long-term value by investing in Greenspace and the natural environment as well as infrastructure and other public works.

Program enters closing phase with final funding approval

On July 18, 2017, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved up to $765,000 for final implementation of the Midtown Community Works program. This funding was previously budgeted but remained uncommitted, and can now be used as matching funds to accomplish some key final activities on and around the Midtown Greenway, including:

  • Improving wayfinding
  • Completing key bicycle and pedestrian connections
  • Enhancing public space infrastructure
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Urban agriculture transformation planned in East Phillips neighborhood, Spring 2021

Hennepin County is working with the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) to transform three adjacent vacant lots owned by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) near the Midtown Greenway into an urban farm and community gathering place.

NACDI will operate the Four Sisters Farm on the site to provide access to fresh healthy foods and serve as a learning environment for indigenous farming, medicine, and lifeways.

The project site is located along East 29th Street between Bloomington and 18th avenues south near the Midtown Greenway in the East Philips neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Construction and implementation are to take place in spring of 2021.

Get involved

The project team gathered community input at an initial project kick-off event October 12, 2020, at the project site, with social distancing and masks required. Additionally, community members provided feedback in an online survey, available in English, Spanish and Somali. Community members expressed overwhelming support for, and interest in, the project.

Community members will continue to be invited to share ideas and participate in project planning and implementation. For more information, to get involved, or to share feedback, please contact Crystal Myslajek at

Learn more about the project (PDF).

Celebración de la cultura y construcción de la comunidad a través de la agricultura urbana en East Philips (PDF).

Beerta Afarta Gabdhood ee Walaalaha ah (PDF)

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board accepts ownership of Cepro site

Aerial photo of the cepro site on the Midtown Greenway

On Wednesday, January 2, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) adopted a resolution to accept ownership and management of the Cepro site from Hennepin County.

Transferring the Cepro site to MPRB makes it an official neighborhood park, allowing it to benefit from more resources for improvements, maintenance and public safety. The transfer comes with additional funding from the county to make initial improvements to the space.

The Cepro site is a 1.65-acre green space on the Midtown Greenway between 10th and 11th avenues in the Midtown Philips neighborhood of Minneapolis. Hennepin County purchased the site in 2000. Since then, through the Midtown Community Works program, the county has made improvements such as:

  • Adding trails that connect to the Midtown Exchange building, Lake Street and the surrounding area
  • Placemaking features
  • Landscaping improvements

Program updates

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Since it began in 1995, the Midtown Community Works program has found remarkable success by partnering with other agencies and organizations to develop the Midtown Greenway from a blighted abandoned rail corridor into the vibrant and valuable amenity it is today. These community partnerships and continued investment in the corridor have helped catalyze:

  • $1 billion increase in property value within ¼ mile of the Greenway
  • 1.5 million square feet of new commercial space
  • 4,390 new multifamily housing units
  • More than $750 million in public and private investment
  • Creation of thousands of new jobs in the corridor
  • An increase in cycling in Minneapolis
  • Over 5,000 plantings of trees and shrubs along the Greenway

Midtown Greenway inducted into national Rail-to-Trail Hall of Fame

In September 2015, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy announced that the Midtown Greenway had joined a select group of trails on the national Rail-to-Trail Hall of Fame. Trails are honored on merits such as scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance of facility, community connections and geographic distribution. Read more about the award and the greenway in the October 16 TrailBlog.

General info

Over the past 20 years, Hennepin County Midtown Community Works has brought together a range of partners to develop and support the Midtown Greenway, and to plan for and leverage economic growth in the area, including the Lake Street corridor. A long-term management plan, currently in development, includes identifying unfinished work in the corridor, making recommendations for program assets, and reviewing commitments from program partners.

The Greenway runs for 5.7 miles in a historic railroad trench beneath bridged streets in south Minneapolis, which makes biking or walking along it a distinctive experience. The Sensible Land Use Coalition named the Midtown Greenway a Great Place in 2014, and USA Today called it a Top Urban Bike Path in 2013. It is also key part of the regional transportation and bikeway network, linking Uptown, the Midtown Global Market and an array of other retail and cultural destinations between the Mississippi River and the Chain of Lakes. Annually, more than 1.5 million people take advantage of this flat, easy, mostly car-free east-west route across the city.


The Midtown Corridor was constructed in the 1910's as a freight rail corridor. With the decline of rail service, however, by the mid-1990's the corridor had become a neglected place that was attracting crime and contributing to lower land values, disinvestment, and blight in nearby neighborhoods. In 1995, Hennepin County identified the Midtown corridor as a priority area for its new community works initiative. After an extensive planning effort, the Greenway was constructed in three phases between 1999 and 2006. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, and in 2007, the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge opened, linking the Greenway over Hiawatha Avenue.

Visit the Midtown Greenway Coalition website for more information.

Outcomes from the Midtown community works program were featured in a 2014 report, Hennepin County Community Works: 20 years of transforming places for people (PDF), but here are some highlights:

Enhance the tax base

  • $1 billion increase in aggregate property value and $30 million increase in annual collectible property tax within ¼-mile of greenway 2002 to 2016
  • 1.5 million square feet of new commercial space in the Midtown corridor since 2000
  • 4,390 new multifamily housing units in the Midtown corridor since 2003
  • Building permit values are substantially higher in the Midtown corridor
  • More than $750 million in public and private investment within ¼-mile through mid-2014

Strengthen and connect places and people

  • The greenway is the backbone of the Twin Cities bicycle transportation network
  • Faster bike transportation with fewer stops decreases travel times by as much as 24%
  • Safety from vehicle traffic is top reason people choose the greenway

Stimulate economic development and job growth

  • 10,000 new jobs in the corridor since 2002
  • 60,000 more jobs are reachable by bicycle commute (43% of trail users are commuting)
  • Hundreds of at-risk youth have participated in summer jobs programs on the greenway
  • The greenway has contributed to our regional competitiveness — being a bike friendly community helps attract and keep millennials

Innovate and advance sustainability

  • Greenway use has grown 200% since 2003 — more than 1 million trips each year
  • Growth in cycling across Minneapolis is led by people living nearby (highest increases)
  • 43% of greenway users are commuting (reducing vehicle miles traveled in the area)
  • Nearly 5,000 new trees and shrubs have grown the urban tree canopy

Lead collaborative planning and implementation

  • Cross-jurisdictional efforts have been led by the Midtown Community Works Partnership and guided by the Midtown Greenway Framework Plan
  • The greenway has contributed to the area’s national recognition, including its induction into the National Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame and its designation by USA Today as the best urban bike trail in the country; the greenway was also key to the county's designation as a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community
  • The greenway has helped emphasize the importance of integrating public health into planning discussions — the greenway encourages people to get exercise as part of their daily routine. A 2013 Midtown Greenway Coalition survey showed 60% of respondents use the greenway for exercise and a 2008 survey showed 82% of respondents get more physical activity because of the trail system

Previous evaluation efforts

A snapshot of employment, property tax, crime, and use statistics in the Midtown corridor area is presented in the 2011 Midtown Greenway project report card (PDF). The report card shows how corridor area conditions have changed as the Midtown Greenway developed.

Program partners

Hennepin County is leading this work, but the ultimate decisions on investments will be made by the program partners:

  • City of Minneapolis
  • Midtown Greenway Coalition
  • Lake Street Council
  • Midtown Community Works Partnership
  • Neighborhood and community organizations in the Midtown area
  • People who live, work, play, visit and worship in the area

Program team

The project team is led by Midtown Community Works Program Manager Crystal Myslajek and includes staff from Hennepin County Public Works and the City of Minneapolis.

Hennepin County

Crystal Myslajek
Program Manager

City of Minneapolis

Paul Mogush
City Planner

Midtown Greenway Coalition

Soren Jensen
Executive Director

Lake Street Council

Allison Sharkey
Executive Director

Midtown Community Works Partnership

Louis Smith
Partnership Manager

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Carrie Christensen
Senior Planner

About the Midtown Community Works Partnership

Formed in 1998, this public-private partnership brings together elected, business and community leaders who are committed to unifying public policy around a common vision for the Midtown Greenway/Lake Street Corridor and to mobilizing the public and private investments necessary to implement this vision. Learn more about the partnership.

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