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Towards a Logan Park Neighborhood Conservation District

Calvert, Collin

A conservation district, in essence, is a set of regulations – often empowered by a city ordinance – aimed at preserving a neighborhood’s unique aesthetic characteristics. The Logan Park Neighborhood Association has expressed interest in the newly established Minneapolis ordinance, in hopes of preventing incompatible development and protecting their neighborhood’s visual character. The objective of this research report is to inform the Logan Park neighborhood of the conservation district establishment process, and provide guidelines for maintaining the district.

Unlike a historic preservation district, a Minneapolis conservation district:
• Focuses on aesthetic character rather than historic events or people
• Is more flexible than a historic district; residents tailor/amend the regulations
• Presents less of a financial burden to residents

Though conservation districts across the U.S. vary in their regulations, many can offer lessons on how to establish or manage a district that can be generalized to the Minneapolis ordinance.
• Take a grassroots approach; e.g. involve community leaders, hold forums/Q&A sessions
• Be specific with the district’s design guidelines, and be prepared to amend them if needed
• Establish a “starter district” where you will get the most support from property owners

The Logan Park neighborhood could benefit from a conservation district, and perhaps multiple districts in the future. With a diverse mix of history and aesthetics, different parts of the neighborhood could qualify for different protections and designations. With regards to a conservation district, it is important to keep in mind that demolitions are not outlawed; the ordinance tries to preserve an agreed-upon aesthetic character. That being said, there are a number of recommendations for Logan Park when moving forward in the process:
• Begin with a starter district, possibly encompassing a grouping of Victorian homes. Beginning with neighborhood residents as opposed to rental property owners or business owners may mean a better chance at getting 1/3 and 2/3 consent.
• Ensure information on the conservation district gets out early, and is not misinterpreted as historic preservation.
• Pursue other methods of preventing neighborhood gentrification. A conservation district can help slow the process, but can also lead to a rise in property values and – subsequently – rental prices. Regardless, it is a good option for stemming the tide of unfettered development.

Publication date: 
Conducted on behalf of Logan Park Neighborhood Association. Supported by the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
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