Jan 29, 2021 - News
Downtown Minneapolis remains in pandemic-induced hibernation
Illustration of an overturned, empty coffee cup, with a sad face and the words "Downtown Coffee" on it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Most of the 218,000 people who worked in downtown Minneapolis before the pandemic still have jobs — they're just working remotely.

Why it matters: Restaurants, retailers and hotels have been hit hardest by the lack of office workers, and years' worth of momentum for downtown has halted.

  • While workers will return, it's unlikely to be at pre-pandemic levels —at least anytime soon.

By the numbers: Only 15.8% of office workers are going to their downtown job, according to the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

  • Sales tax revenue in the city was down more than 40% from March to the fall.
  • With corporate travel curtailed, hotel occupancy in downtown finished 2020 at 21.8% compared with 33.3% for the broader Twin Cities metro, according to STR, a hospitality benchmarking firm.

The state of play: The Downtown Council warned in August that several companies were considering moving their offices to the suburbs due to concerns about public safety — but no such moves have been confirmed.

  • "The dynamic of a largely vacant downtown and the aspect of increases in crime is not unique to our city. It is something that we've seen in almost every major city nationwide," Mayor Jacob Frey told us.
  • In fact, Frey said that he’s encouraged by Deluxe Corp.’s decision to move more than 500 jobs from Shoreview to downtown.

The bottom line: "We are not out of the woods yet, but there has not been a huge exodus by any means. It will take a year or two to more fully tell the tale," Downtown Council President Steve Cramer said.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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