Saint Paul

Minneapolis and the Twin Cities Rank No. 1 for Parks

The Trust for Public Land declared Minneapolis and the Twin Cities the nation’s best big city for public parks, followed by New York, Boston and Sacramento, Calif.

Minneapolis parks

Jayne Miller, superintendent for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, said the work the board has done over the years earned the award.

“The city was built around the park system, not the other way around,” she said. “We are unique from the standpoint that the park system was built as an economic driver for the city.”

Recent Minneapolis parks projects include the East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center and new synthetic turf fields; a new beach, boardwalk playground and picnic area at Theodore Wirth Park; and the Phillips Community Center renovation.

“This is an honor not for the Park Board but for the citizens of Minneapolis because they’re the ones 130 years ago who established an independent park board,” said John Erwin, president of the Park and Recreation Board. “Because they valued parks and understood they greatly enhance lives.”

Minneapolis, the 48th largest city, wasn’t ranked when the last list was created in 2012, but it was included this year when the index was expanded to the 50 most populous cities in America. Although St. Paul, the 66th largest city, was not rated by ParkScore, the Trust for Public Land analysts determined that if the two cities had been evaluated as a single municipality, it still would have ranked at the top of the list. Minneapolis parks and St. Paul parks also made appearances in a similar 2008 ranking of parks. 

Minneapolis parks ranked high in several categories,...

Architectural Style – Split-Level

Split-level architecture is such a popular style, there are probably few if any neighborhoods to be found without at least one of this type of home.  This is especially true since it was popular during the boom period of 1945 to the 1980s.  A Split-Level is a Ranch Style house that is divided into several parts, which is also why it’s often called a Split-Level Ranch. One section of the house is lowered and one section is raised, and there are usually two short flights of stairs to get to each section.  In the most popular form of this style of home, the front door opens to a landing where one finds two short flights of stairs, one leading up and one leading down.  Split-level design reflects an approach popularized by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who believed that houses with "half floors" would blend naturally with the landscape. Living areas are separated from private areas by just a few steps, rather than a single long staircase.  There are prime examples of split-level architecture in the Battle Creek-Highwood neighborhood of Saint Paul



Minneapolis Saint Paul Home Tour 2012

A little over 25 years ago, some Minneapolis real estate agents and city officials concerned about suburban migration invited the public into 40 homes to promote urban living. Today, that event is held annually and is known as the Minneapolis Saint Paul Home Tour.

This year's Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour features 60 Twin Cities homes and occurs this weekend on April 28 and April 29. The unique, self-guided tour is an opportunity for people to see how homeowners have reinvented or rejuvenated older housing stock. Visitors can speak directly with homeowners about remodeling or expanding a home. Many contractors and architects will also be available to answer questions. Whether its remodeling a kitchen, gutting a bathroom or constructing an addition, this tour of “real homes, real people, real ideas” is sure to be inspirational.

The website says some things viewers can expect to see are:

  • Ideas for remodeling
  • Recent changes in the cities and glimpses into their past
  • North Minneapolis recovery and remodeling stories following the tornado
The hours for the event are rain or shine:
  • Saturday, April 28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 29, 1-5 p.m.

Visit the Home Tour website for participating homes, a printed copy of the guide and more.

Only have a few minutes to “take a tour”? Take a look at available Minneapolis real estate and Saint Paul homes for sale.


2012 Minnesota Home & Patio Show

Looking for some creative solutions for home projects? More than 400 local and national manufacturers and retailers will be at the Minnesota Home & Patio Show. Now in its 33rd year, the event returns to the Saint Paul RiverCentre on February 16-19, 2012.

Time to replace the windows? Garden need sprucing? Want to learn about the latest landscaping trends? Find the right resources at the Home & Patio Show. This event is a great place to collect information, get ideas and be inspired for the upcoming home improvement and gardening season.

The Home and Patio Show in Saint Paul has hundreds of exhibits, featured displays, workshops and seminars covering 3 floors of the River Centre complex. Contractors, building suppliers, architects, landscaping firms and interior designers will be on hand, ready to discuss new home construction, remodeling projects, energy conservation, landscaping, gardening and other projects. Representatives from each industry will be available for personalized advice and assistance.

The Home & Patio Show starts at noon on Thursday, February 16 and is open daily through Sunday, February 19. Tickets are available at the door.


Top 5 Barker & Hedges Real Estate Posts of 2011

It has been an interesting year in the world of Twin Cities real estate. There have been ups and downs, twists and turns. And we've discussed some of the interesting developments here in this blog! Read on to find out what the top Barker & Hedges real estate posts were for 2011.

Unique Home: Former Donaldson Mansion for Sale in Minneapolis

It is nice to daydream once in a while, right? It was fun to imagine living in the Former Donaldson mansion, too. The 10,000-square-foot home at 1712 Mount Curve Avenue in Minneapolis was listed for a price of $6,500,000.

Minneapolis Among 18 "Coolest" Cities in America

Men's Journal Magazine proclaimed what Twin Cities residents know when Minneapolis was selected as one of 18 "coolest towns in America." The editors say its "countless parks, large biking community and numerous farmers markets" are the reasons.

Minneapolis Makes Forbes Top 10 Affordable Cities List

In January, Forbes published its list of America's 10 Most Affordable Cities. After starting with a list of 50 cities, the Minneapolis - Saint Paul Twin Cities Metro Area ended up ranking at No. 7 overall.

Strange-But-True: Into the Snake Pit

Forget snakes on a plane. The Sessions bought a 5-bedroom house on almost two acres to make it their dream home. Unfortunately, the home’s previous residents didn't feel like leaving. Be comforted by the fact that this story didn't occur...

Twin Cities Real Estate Statistics for June 2011

Pending home sales initiated in June within the Twin Cities area were among the highest in nearly five years. Buyers may be taking advantage of low prices and near-record low mortgage interest rates before they start to climb.

The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors reports that though there are some good signs occurring in the local Twin Cities residential real estate market, there's still a ways to go. Though pending sales rose in June, closed sales fell 11.4% compared with a year ago. The median sale prices fell 9.3% from a year ago to $165,000. That is still better than March's low of $140,000.

It's unclear whether the latest uptick in buying activity is a blip or a sign of a sustained recovery, given an economy still struggling to gain traction and the extent of the foreclosure crisis still unknown. Stable employment, strong rent prices and relatively low foreclosure rates suggest that the market has seen the worst, said Herb Tousley, director of the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of Minnesota.

"I believe there is reason for optimism," he said.

The biggest barrier to a recovery is foreclosures. At its worst, nearly 60% of all residential real estate sales in the Twin Cities metro were distressed sales, but it has fallen to 38% last month - the lowest level since June 2010! Additionally, fewer foreclosures are entering the market, with the 29%  of new listings in the Twin Cities during June that were either foreclosures or short sales being one of the lowest monthly totals in three years.

Still, the foreclosure problem isn't going to go away soon, giving buyers some time to get their down payments together before Twin Cities real estate prices begin a faster climb.


The streets of the Twin Cities are lined with green gold

Those who live in or visit the Twin Cities probably have seen how many trees we have along our streets, avenues and boulevards. 

Recently, a first-of-its-kind study was completed that used high-resolution satellite technology to analyze the tree canopy of the Twin Cities. The study was carried out by a team of University of Minnesota researchers. High-resolution satellite technology was used to examine Minneapolis from above on a clear and cloudless day, recording and analyzing how much tree cover there, down to each individual property.

They study estimated Minneapolis' overall tree coverage to be 31.5%, higher than previous estimates using less precise methods. In St. Paul, the canopy cover rate was 32.5%.

Minneapolis' estimated 979,000 trees offer many benefits, including:

  • Cleaning the air
  • Sucking up water that would otherwise flood stormwater pipes
  • Increase the attractiveness of homes
  • Drive up property values
  • Reducing the need for cooling during hot summer days by providing shade

"In terms of energy conservation, it doesn't get any easier than planting a tree on the west side of your house if you can," [Minneapolis project coordinator June Mathiowetz] said.

The Lynnhurst neighborhood off the southeast shore of Lake Harriet had the most urban tree cover. Nearly 49% of its area is covered, which includes a portion of Minnehaha Creek. Other neighborhoods that rank high for shadiness have residential lots and extensive parkways, mostly along Minnehaha Creek in southern Minneapolis, West River Road, and along the city's western border.

The research will be helpful in multiple ways. The study shows gaps in the urban tree cover, which could help city planners and foresters target areas in need of improvement or develop low-cost programs to encourage more saplings on private land. It also provides a useful benchmark...

Twin Cities are the Healthiest, Fittest in the U.S.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are the healthiest, fittest cities in the country, according to a new examination of the 50 most populous United States metro areas.

The annual American Fitness Index, from the American College of Sports Medicine, is based on health factors, including obesity rates, percentage of people who exercise, and the availability of parks, walking trails and farmers' markets.

Some of the reasons the Twin Cities achieved its high rank is due to a lower-than-average obesity rate, an above-average percentage of residents who exercise, a relatively low smoking rate and moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems likes asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Oh, and Minneapolis and St. Paul have some of the best and most extensive parks and recreational facilities in the country. Almost 16% of land in the city is park land vs. an average of 10% in other cities.

Here are the rest of the top 10 healthiest cities in the nation:

2. Washington, D.C.
3. Boston
4. Portland, Ore.
5. Denver
6. San Francisco
7. Hartford, Conn.
8. Seattle
9. Virginia Beach
10. Sacramento

Oklahoma City were ranked last and Louisville is second to last. The American College of Sports Medicine is working with these cities and others to help create strategies and policies that make it easier for residents to be healthy.



Twin Cities Area is the Fourth Best Job Market in the US

Using statistics and analysis of the biggest 50 cities from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,'s monthly Job Search Difficulty Index for Major Cities and Moody's, Forbes recently released its list of America's Best and Worst Job Markets.

According to a recent analysis, Minneapolis and St. Paul ranks as the 4th best major community for job markets throughout the United States. The Twin Cities Area's unemployment rate stands at 6.5%, compared to the 9.1%. There is an average of 2.68 job-seekers per opening.

In the Twin Cities area "employment is expected to recover fully by mid-2011, far earlier than nationally," according to a recent Moody's analysis of the region. Look for growth in manufacturing and professional services jobs like accounting. Did we mention that the metro is home to the Mall of America, a retail and tourist destination, which is expanding?

Best U.S. cities for jobs:

  1. Washington, DC
  2. Boston, Massachusetts
  3. Austin, Texas
  4. Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota
  5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  6. Baltimore, Maryland
  7. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  8. Salt Lake City, Utah
  9. New York, New York
  10. Hartford, Connecticut
Worst U.S. cities for jobs:
  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Riverside, California
  3. Miami, Florida
  4. Detroit, Michigan
  5. Sacramento, California
  6. Los Angeles, California
  7. San Diego, California
  8. Providence, Rhode Island
  9. Jacksonville, Florida
  10. Orlando, Florida
Read the full America's Best and Worst Job Markets article at Forbes....