1. Synergistic Communities

Culturally Enriched Communities are planned in ways that foster partnerships and create synergies among stakeholders that range from policy makers, designers, and planners to business and community leaders, institutions, and advocates.

The questions that confront us include: How can elected officials, planners, advocates, builders, and community members ensure that planning decisions account for diverse needs? How can future leaders that are representative of all communities be nourished and supported? And, in what ways can synergies be built, bringing together sectors that are typically separated, such as transportation, business, and housing development balanced with public health?



Best Practices

The Heart of the City project grew from the Partnerships for Tomorrow community visioning project that identified the creation of a central meeting area as a community goal. “We had charrettes and focus groups,” reflects Mayor Kautz. The Heart of the City grew from a simple streetscape project in 1995 to a full-fledged redevelopment effort. In 1999, the Burnsville City Council adopted a framework design manual and zoning ordinance which outlines architectural guidelines to assure that future development is consistent with the community’s vision. The community-lead design framework is a development playbook with narratives and pictures describing the types of environments residents wish to have. “There are pictures to make sure that everybody understands this is what the space needs and what the landscape needs to look like,” explains Mayor Kautz.

Partnerships for Tomorrow Community Visioning Project

Burnsville, Minnesota


Photo credit: http://www.ci.burnsville.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/10456/Architecture-Site-Design-Example-Handout?bidId=

The Empowerment Center is a collaborative project to renovate an old elementary school into a service hub for partner agencies that provide supportive services to homeless and low-income households. The center is adjacent to a permanent supportive housing development, and is owned by a nonprofit developer of affordable housing. The renovation means extending the life of the building by at least 20 years as well as providing a much needed community asset. The long-term goal of the center is to strengthen Rochester by breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and homelessness through early interventions. According to the American Community Survey, in 2016, 10.7% of individuals living in Rochester lived below the poverty line (for comparison, Minneapolis was 21.3%)–23% are Black residents and 4.3% Asian (Census Bureau, 2015).

The Empowerment Center

Rochester, Minnesota


Photo credit: http://www.centercityhousing.org/new-developments/empowerment-centergage-east-apartments/

Richfield households making less than $35,000 a year make up 31.5% of the population (American Community Survey, 2012-2016). To help preserve Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH), the city’s Economic Development Authority partnered with Aeon, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, to acquire Seasons Park Apartments before the property could be turned into luxury apartments. Aeon’s requirements make it easier for low-income households to qualify. Mayor Elliott explains: “…Richfield is not displacing 100 or 200 more of our students from the school and we’re not displacing people that if they get forced out of there, they end up going somewhere else where they’re living in apartments with mold or appliances that don’t work or landlords that don’t take the proper steps to make sure it’s a secure facility for people that are trying to raise families there.”