St. Paul sees uneven rise in property value and taxes along Green Line


A train pulls into the Capitol/Rice St. light rail station in St. Paul. (Image: Mac H (media601), Flickr)

The Green Line light rail between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota opened in 2014. To look at how property values and taxes have changed within St. Paul in particular, the Pioneer Press examined all properties within roughly two blocks of the line—from the border with Minneapolis to the state capitol in St. Paul—between 2012 to 2017. They found some mixed but interesting results.

Property values along the line rose 36.5 percent at a time when the city and county experienced 32 percent and 28 percent growth respectively. The report paints a picture of the rich getting richer to a certain extent as properties closer to Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota to the west experienced greater increases in value. There has been some slower growth as properties a little further east (closer to the capitol) are seeing new investment, but the growth hasn’t been even.

While property values went up and apartments were built, tax revenues along the corridor increased less than the city as a whole, 14.8 percent compared to 17.7 percent, respectively. This is partially because of business tax exemptions for commercial properties and the fact that apartments are taxed at a lower level than commercial properties. But property taxes alone should not be the measurement of a good infrastructure project, especially given that higher taxes can accelerate the displacement of existing residents and businesses.

One notable development along the Green Line in St. Paul is the recently opened soccer stadium, Allianz Field. The stadium itself was an FTA-assisted joint development project that will result in nearly $30 million for Metro Transit over the next 50 years. But the stadium will also anchor a larger, eight city block TOD site that will host office, retail, entertainment, hospitality, and residential uses as opposed to the big box retail that currently surrounds the stadium. While this development is a promising sign for TOD in St. Paul, it is not reflected in the Pioneer Press analysis which only includes data up to 2017.

Development takes time to materialize and it’s interesting to see how the fabric of the corridor has already been affected in such a short period. There are warnings and lessons about expectations of change and value, lessons that can be used to inform development along the southwest Green Line extension that is currently under construction in Minneapolis.

For more information on aligning transit investments with real estate and community values, visit for resources like Aligning Transit and Real Estate: An Integrated Financing Strategy.

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This month on Building Better Communities with Transit we head to Chicago to get a closer look at the city’s new TOD policy that was adopted in January. The updated TOD policy expands the scope beyond rail stations to a number of high-ridership bus corridors. But as Kendra Freeman, the director of community engagement for the regional Metropolitan Planning Council explains, the real promise of the new policy is the focus on equitable development. Catch this episode on Soundcloud, Stitcher, iTunes, Overcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

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