Met Council to Grant $26M to Projects Near Transit Lines

The council said it will provide cities with grants to support high-density, mixed-use developments along train and bus routes.

The Metropolitan Council on Wednesday approved a plan to invest roughly $26 million over the next year toward development projects along metro transitways.

The council's new Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) fund will provide metro-area cities with grants to support development along train and bus routes. The council said the goal is to develop high-density, mixed-use developments adjacent to transit stations and designed to be pedestrian friendly.

“Encouraging economic development and job growth along transit corridors is a council priority,” Met Council Chair Susan Haigh said in a statement. “Expanding the number of people who live and work on major transitways ensures we make better use of our resources, expanding opportunities for all.”

The council expects to make up to $13 million available to eligible communities this year and another $13 million available in 2012.

The funds come from the Livable Communities Act (LCA) grant program that was established in 1995 by the Minnesota State Legislature to expand affordable housing and to ensure that development is more compact and efficient. Some of the LCA grants that the council had previously made were returned because the proposed developments couldn't move forward during the recession. The money that was returned will now be directed to the TOD fund.

The council said the TOD grants will give local communities a “powerful tool” with which to attract and target new economic development just as the economy is rebuilding. Projects that received Livable Community funding include the Excelsior and Grand development in St. Louis Park, which involved the makeover of a retail strip into housing and commercial space.

The grants will be awarded on a competitive basis over the course of several funding rounds, the council said. Applicants' proposed projects must meet criteria approved by the council.