Smart growth stories: Michael Lander on changing markets and transit-oriented development in Minnesota

To give people the kind of in-demand housing they want near jobs, shops and schools, America needs to invest in a diversity of transportation options and make it easier to build transit-oriented development, says Michael Lander of the Lander Group, an urban development firm based in Minneapolis, MN.

Helping meet that pent up demand won’t just be good for Lander’s bottom line, but will also enhance the quality of life for prospective residents in these new transportation-rich neighborhoods.

“High-density development really doesn’t work relying totally on single occupancy vehicles, so creating new transportation options and other ways to move around is critical to creating good urban places,” Lander says, adding that, “Our urban residents are looking for green spaces, certainly, open space, transportation connections, [and] ways to move around in their life to work and to services without using their car.”

With the successful opening of the Hiawatha light rail line last year, which connected downtown Minneapolis with the airport, as well as the nearly completed Central Corridor line between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Lander says there is a real opportunity in Minnesota to reap the benefits of transit-oriented development. And when that development takes root, many more local businesses and property owners will benefit from added sales and a greater “sense of place.”

With twenty completed urban residential projects and more in the pipeline, the Lander Group is on the market frontier, highlighting the robust role smart growth plays in local economies across the nation.

Meeting that new market demand, however, requires investments in transportation and infrastructure that can’t always be handled solely by a private developer such as himself. As Lander says, “A lot of infrastructure improvements and transportation improvements cost an investment outside of our site.”

Thus, “it’s incumbent on the progressive developers to lead working with the public sector,” and for them to come up with “new ways for thinking about how to fund [infrastructure projects] and phase them and install them, because they are just as critical as the actual buildings.”

In other words – the economic potential for transit-oriented development for Lander’s group, other local businesses and the Twin Cities metropolitan area is huge, but it takes new ways of funding, regulating and thinking about this particular kind of real estate.

“The conversations among developers are about that changing market and how that impacts our businesses and what kinds of changes are needed,” Lander says.

Download the full transcript here: [PDF]

Local Leaders Council LOCUS