Missing Middle Housing Reforms Move Forward in St. Paul

The St. Paul City Council will soon consider a legislative package designed to increase the density of residential neighborhoods, following in the footsteps of its twin city, Minneapolis.

2 minute read

August 22, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

St. Paul Minnesota

CC0 / Public Domain / Good Free Photos

The St. Paul Planning Commission has signed off on zoning changes that will make it easier to build townhouses, fourplexes, and other missing middle housing typologies throughout the city.

“Under current laws, nearly half of St. Paul can be used only for single-family homes. The proposed changes aim to allow more types of housing that are compatible in size and appearance with single-family homes — a category dubbed ‘the missing middle’ by policy experts because it falls between single-family homes and large apartment buildings in terms of density,” reports Katie Galioto for the Star Tribune.

“The recommended changes would allow fourplexes throughout most of the city's residential neighborhoods — with the exception of a portion of the Highwood area, a hilly part of the Mississippi River bluff that does not have consistent city sewer or water services,” adds Galioto.

A new density bonus program would also allow developers to build up to six units for projects that include income-restricted units. And, according to Galioto, “A suite of changes to dimensional requirements are being proposed to make it feasible to build this type of housing. Standards such as those for setbacks, building height and minimum lot size would be altered to give developers more flexibility.”

St. Paul, of course, is twin city to Minneapolis, which famously went first on ending single-family zoning for residential neighborhoods with its Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan, approved in 2018. Minneapolis 2040 has been back in the news as Minneapolis touted its successes in taming inflation, which city officials have credited to its pro-housing-development reforms. St. Paul, meanwhile, has made news in recent years for setting the pace on municipal rent control, with an aggressive package of tenant protections approved by voters in 2021 that some critics say has contributed to a slow rate of multi-family housing development in that city.

With the Planning Commission’s approval, the St. Paul City Council will next consider the package of zoning reforms. Planetizen previously shared news of St. Paul’s zoning reform efforts in April 2023 and July 2023.

Friday, August 18, 2023 in Star Tribune

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