Jun 28, 2021 - Things to Do

Downtown is quiet but Minneapolis' North Loop is rocking

A bridge with office buildings in the background in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood.

The North Loop has bounced back quickly from the pandemic. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

While the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul are desperately trying to bring people back, the bars and restaurants of the North Loop are packed.

State of play: The chic Minneapolis neighborhood has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed.

  • The North Loop lost a handful of restaurants, but stayed mostly open while downtown went quiet.
  • "It's a place that became my default for lunches and happy hour, because most of the restaurants remained open," said Minneapolis Regional Chamber CEO Jonathan Weinhagen.

What's happening: Median home sale prices in the North Loop — primarily condos — were up 4.3% between May 2020 and May 2021, according to Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors data. In that same period, sales prices in Minneapolis' Downtown West fell 7.4%, and in downtown St. Paul they fell 1.1%.

  • While other urban submarkets are slowly recovering, apartment leasing in the North Loop has rebounded quickly, said CBRE multifamily investment broker Ted Abramson.
  • Plus: A pair of out-of-town investors turned heads in the real estate industry in April when they purchased a three-building portfolio of North Loop offices for $113 million.

Between the lines: Office broker Brent Erickson of Newmark told Axios that downtown Minneapolis has a 5:1 ratio of office workers to residents. So when the pandemic hit, downtown restaurants and retailers lost close to 80% of their usual traffic as people worked from home.

  • "The ratio is closer to 1:1 in the North Loop," Erickson said. "So if people are working at home it's the same as if they were going to the office because you have kind of the same amount of people from a population standpoint there."

What they're saying: It's not just the size of the population, but that the neighborhood's residents have high-income and office jobs that have kept them working from home, said Element Real Estate principal JoAnna Hicks, a commercial real estate broker who does a lot of leasing in the North Loop.

  • "This neighborhood has a higher education and higher income population than other areas of the city," she said, noting that the number of retailers touring buildings in the neighborhood has shot up over the past month.

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