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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Minneapolis 2040 plan legalized duplexes and triplexes just about anywhere in the city. But the overhaul resulted in the new construction of just 16 duplexes and four triplexes in 2020, the first full year of the new zoning rules.

By the numbers: 22 existing properties were also converted to duplexes and triplexes. Altogether, those "plexes" added about 70 new units of housing to a city of 420,000.

Flashback: The Minneapolis 2040 plan was hailed by national media as a revolutionary vision because it ended single-family zoning.

Reality check: Developers say the financials and other zoning rules still make it difficult to build triplexes and duplexes.

Bruce Brunner built a triplex in Uptown thanks to finding a relatively cheap ($260,000) house. He's working on more, but outlined for us why so few people aren't doing what he is doing:

  1. It's hard to find vacant lots in sought-after parts of the city. Buying a house and tearing it down typically costs more than $300,000 — before the rebuild. In areas with cheaper houses, such as North Minneapolis, you can't get the rents you would need to make it work, Brunner said.
  2. Existing zoning rules mean developers have to squeeze triplexes into small footprints.
  3. Developers are concerned about new regulations, including proposed ballot measures on rent control.

Yes, but: The small number of plexes doesn’t mean the 2040 plan hasn’t helped the city grow. Developers built 3,300 units in 2020, despite the pandemic.

  • The biggest driver — and one that got much less ink nationally — was a change allowing easier approval of the five- and six-level buildings seen frequently on busier streets such as Marshall, Broadway, Hiawatha, Lyndale and Lake.

Janne Flisrand, co-founder of pro-2040 Neighbors for More Neighbors, said she expects the number of plexes to grow in future years. But she acknowledged they will represent only an incremental change compared with the rise of taller residential buildings.

What's next: Minneapolis code development manager Jason Wittenberg said the City Council has directed staff to collect data "to inform whether there are significant zoning barriers" to developing triplexes at scale.

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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Go deeper

More corporations are requiring workers to get vaccinated

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Life for the unvaccinated could get more difficult as bosses increasingly move to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.

The big picture: The federal Government in May said that it is legal for companies to require employees to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

White House: Over 500,000 new shots recorded Friday, highest since July 1

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The United States recorded more than half a million new COVID-19 vaccine shots on Friday, the highest number since July 1, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Why it matters: The Delta variant is continuing to spread across the United States and it now comprises over 80% of the coronavirus cases in the country, Jean-Pierre said. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that "vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death."

Biden to announce sanctions, other efforts to address crisis in Cuba amid protests

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will announce sanctions against one entity and two Cuban individuals this afternoon and provide details on his administration's efforts to improve internet connectivity in Cuba, a senior administration official said Friday.

Why it matters: After initially hoping to place the issue on the back burner, the White House has recently ramped up its focus on Cuba amid protests on the island and in the United States, congressional backlash and political pressure from the South Florida Cuban community.

  • The president is also expected to make announcements on remittances and plans for U.S. embassy augmentation, the official said.
  • The official noted that the administration is in talks with private sector providers about the possibility of providing wireless LTE communications to the Cuban people.
  • "Given the protest of July 11, it is important for U.S. diplomats to engage directly with the Cuban people and if we can do that in a way that ensures the safety of U.S. personnel, that is something that we will undertake," he said, noting that the president would announce more details later this afternoon.

The details: The president will meet today with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a Cuban-American, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), among other political and community leaders and artists.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an outspoken voice on Cuban issues, is not expected to attend the meeting.
  • The meeting follows a series of engagements by Cedric Richmond and the Office of Public Engagement with the Cuban-American community, the official said.

What they're saying: "We're gonna do everything we can to keep Cuba on the front burner, so we can keep the conversation on the rights of the Cuban people and their rights to manifest peacefully," the official said on the call with reporters.

Be smart: Cuba is a tricky political issue for Democrats, who are split on the matter. The president was defeated by Donald Trump in South Florida during the 2020 election, and Democrats fear similar results, particularly in the upcoming midterms, if they mishandle the situation.

Go deeper: The newly announced sanctions today will follow already imposed sanctions against Cuban officials and entities allegedly responsible for human rights abuses during the government's crackdown on island-wide protests earlier this month.