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Community works

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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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


In the early 1990 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


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

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.

Making collaboration work

More than 125 Cities, government agencies, businesses, educational and research institutions, neighborhood and community organizations, advocacy organizations and other nonprofits have been an essential to Community Works’ success. Their participation makes the community works goal of leading collaborative planning and implementation possible.


As essential partners in every community works program, cities not only have authority for land use, zoning and economic development, but they also implement housing policy and invest in improvements to local streets, sidewalks, trails and stormwater management. No less important, they offer a deep understanding of their communities and help build effective relationships with residents.

Businesses, employers, business partnerships and associations

By engaging the local business community, identifying issues that prevent business from thriving during construction projects and providing critical coordination of strategic private capital investment, these organizations provide essential support for long-term economic growth and workforce development in community works program areas.

Metropolitan Council

In setting goals for land use, transportation, housing and water resources for the Twin Cities region, the council assumes a crucial role that helps to maintain a long-term perspective on investments made through community works programs. The council also offers financial support for redevelopment through a number of federally funded grant programs. Its recent leadership in addressing equitable development and direct investment in community organizations to promote involvement has helped shape best practices.

Metro Transit and other transit agencies

In designing, engineering, constructing and operating bus and light rail services, these transit agencies are instrumental in helping to fulfill the community works goal of connecting people to jobs, housing, education, recreation, health services, retail and other amenities.

Community and neighborhood organizations

By hosting public meetings and open house events, facilitating small group conversations and other outreach efforts, these organizations connect neighborhood residents and diverse audiences to community works programs. Their perspective and tireless advocacy for community reinvestment to benefit residents is a crucial component of every community works program.

Foundations, anchor institutions, and community development and housing organizations

These organizations play a critical role in community works programs by identifying funding and coordinating investment and resources for specific community needs. They also support learning opportunities that provide access to national models and best practices.

Parks and watershed districts

As the steward of park lands, trails and water and other natural resources, park and watershed districts provide support for sustainable development and leadership on stormwater management issues and techniques, as well as commuter and recreational connections to the regional transportation system.

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.
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