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.

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News and updates

How to stay updated during construction

Construction is underway on Penn Avenue as part of the Penn Avenue Improvements Project. Stay up to date with the latest information:

Construction issues and questions

  • Call the Construction Hotline: 612-567-4101
  • Email
  • Attend Corridor Drop-In Hours: First Mondays 5 – 7 pm & Third Thursday, 8 – 10 pm (Locations will vary during construction and will be shared via the construction bulletin and at

Penn Avenue Improvements Project

Penn Avenue Improvements Project logo shows a row of circular icons with a car, a bus and people walking.

The Penn Avenue Improvements Project is a collaborative project that includes the construction of the new Metro Transit C Line rapid bus project, as well as the coordinated reconstruction of a segment of Penn Avenue (County Road 2) between Lowry and West Broadway avenues and other roadway improvements.

One of the most important needs Penn Avenue communities identified through the Penn Avenue Community Works program was improved transportation services and infrastructure.

In response, Hennepin County partnered with Metro Transit and the City of Minneapolis to make meaningful infrastructure improvements and enhance transportation and transit service and safety throughout the Penn Avenue corridor and Olson Memorial Highway into downtown Minneapolis.

The Penn Avenue Improvements Project includes two major components:

  • Road reconstruction: full reconstruction of a seven block segment of Penn Avenue between West Broadway Avenue and Lowry Avenue North. Improvements include: Safety enhancements for all road users; greening and landscaping; traffic-calming; new sidewalks and improved lighting.

The community-led vision and planning work organized through the Penn Avenue Community Works program paved the way for these improvements. Thank you to all who dedicated their time and energy to making these projects possible.

Two housing initiatives to assist Penn Avenue homebuyers and current owners

Two new housing programs from Penn Avenue Community Works are launching in 2017 to both encourage people to buy homes in the Penn Avenue corridor and help current homeowners fix-up their properties.

Both programs are administered through the Center for Energy and Environment and managed by Hennepin County Community Works.

Front Yard Fix Up program

The Front Yard Fix Up program is an effort to help beautify, deter crime and signal investment in the Penn Avenue corridor by providing homeowners up to $5,000 per property for improvements that can be seen from the street.

Eligible improvements include things like:

  • Addition of front porches, decks or patios
  • Exterior painting
  • Windows and doors
  • Walkway and front step repair
  • Landscaping
  • Exterior lighting
  • And more

The program is available to low- and moderate-income owner-occupied households on Penn Avenue between I-394 and 44th Avenue North and along Osseo Road from 44th Avenue North to 49th Avenue North.

Funding will be provided through a no-interest forgivable loan. This means no payments will need to be made on the loan and it will be forgiven in total if the buyer stays in the home for five years. Residents with total household incomes up to $102,960 are eligible to apply for this program. Applications may be prioritized based on property location and income levels. You must submit your completed application and two contractor bids by September 1, 2017.

Learn more and apply.

Homebuyer assistance program

In an effort to attract homebuyers to the Penn Avenue corridor, Penn Avenue Community Works is offering financial assistance of up to $3,000 to help with down payments and closing costs to buyers. The program aims to make homeownership more affordable for people of low- and moderate-incomes.

Funding is provided through a no-interest, forgivable loan. This means no payments will need to be made on the loan and it will be forgiven in total if the buyer stays in the home for five years. Homebuyers with total household incomes up to $102,960 are eligible to apply.

This funding is available for buyers who purchase a single family home, duplex, townhouse, or condominium unit in the Penn Avenue corridor, which extends from I-394 to 49th Avenue North and includes Penn, Oliver and Queen Avenues.

Learn more and apply.

Funding secured for Queen Avenue bicycle boulevard

Plans are moving forward to implement a bicycle boulevard on Queen Avenue in North Minneapolis. The project was recently awarded a $1 million federal grant, including a $250,000 local match. The Queen Avenue bicycle boulevard will:

  • Improve connectivity and access in North Minneapolis
  • Increase transportation choices for residents
  • Provide a needed north/south bicycle route in the area
  • Calm traffic

The planned route will extend five miles from 44th Avenue North to Glenwood Avenue North. It will connect to several other important bike routes including Lowry Avenue, Plymouth Avenue, the planned Olson Memorial Highway cycle track, and Glenwood Avenue.

The City of Minneapolis is leading this project with support from Hennepin County and Penn Avenue Community Works. The project is currently scheduled for 2021. We’ll be looking to area residents to help shape and implement the Queen Avenue Bicycle Boulevard, so watch for engagement opportunities and other chances to provide feedback.

What is a bicycle boulevard?

Bicycle boulevards are typically streets with low traffic volumes and slower speeds. They are designated and designed to give bicycles travel priority without removing parking or traffic lanes. Motor vehicles and bicycles share the same road space. Signs, pavement markings, and other traffic calming measures are often used to create safer conditions for bicycles. These treatments also make the street safer for pedestrians and motorists.

Motor vehicles are still allowed full use of the street and parking, though alternate routes may be preferable for through trips. Residents who live along bicycle boulevards commonly say they appreciate the calming effects it can have on traffic, making their residential street safer and more pleasant for everyone who travels or lives there.

Read more on the City of Minneapolis website

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

This new transit service will provide fast, reliable bus service with enhanced station amenities similar to those of a light rail transit (LRT) line. The C Line does not require street widening or wide-scale removal of parking lanes. It does offer:

  • Buses that arrive often and 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).
  • Stations with heated shelters, transit information and maps, and real-time departure signs, so you'll always know when the bus is coming.
  • Amenities such as security cameras, emergency phones, and improved lighting to make stations safer.
  • Different, recognizable buses, including wider aisles and additional doors to allow more people to get on and off easily.

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

About Route 19 and the C Line:

  • 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.

About BRT and the planned Southwest LRT/Green Line Extension:

  • 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.
  • 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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