If it's built, will people come?
Ford site planners are planning to maximize profit for Ford and city coffers by promising to build 3300 to 4000 luxury and market rate rental units in buildings ranging from 48 to 75 feet in height.
Is there evidence that there will be demand for this? Few Highland Villagers see this high-density rental plan as a good fit for Highland Village. City planners are staying positive and referring to their marketing study, completed in 2015 but based largely on data from the recession period (census data to 2010).
Meanwhile other reliable sources give cause for alarm because the national and local luxury and market rate rental markets are peaking. A Star Tribune article (1/1/2017) reports that the "Rental market will ease in '17. The rental market is softening and developers are expected to shift attention to suburbs.” Again from the Star Tribune, “US commercial real estate shows signs of overheating…Federal Reserve officials are watching rising apartment towers as the next potential asset-price bubble” (2/10/2017).
And are those towers ever rising! New apartment construction “an 813.4% year-over-year spike, placed Minneapolis/St. Paul at #9 (nationally) in the multifamily permit standings. For the year, the market authorized 6,211 units, a near-30% increase over the prior year. Those numbers supplement 7,341 in-progress units – nearly 5,000 of which are scheduled to complete within a year.” Realpage Lindsey Allen 3/16/2017
So, who is going to want to wedge themselves into our Soviet-era apartment Ford development with a population density that rivals that of Manhattan and limited access to highways or rail transit? They can find new hot spots in Linden Hills, Southdale, Prospect Park, 50th and France, Nordeast and now even 206 acres in Oakdale (on I 694 no less) without the traffic headaches and enmity of the adjacent neighborhood.
If the city planners want the Ford development to succeed they need to adhere to their own stated goal of extending the village onto the Ford property. This would be a lower density neighborhood with more greenspace and livable spaces that people would choose to inhabit. Then people will come!