Downtown Minneapolis' recovery has been best in North America over last year: study

If you think you’re seeing more people in downtown Minneapolis than you were one year ago, new research says you are not seeing things.

You’re seeing reality.  But it took a while.

The University of Toronto’s School of Cities has been tracking downtown recovery in major cities post-pandemic.

One year ago, Minneapolis was near the bottom of the list, lagging behind nearly every major US and Canadian city.

Now, as other cities level off, Minneapolis has shot to the number one spot based on a big change over the past year.

The research uses cell phone activity to gauge downtown foot traffic, be it for work or entertainment.   And it shows a 43% jump for downtown Minneapolis from March 2023 to March 2024.

"I’m not surprised to see those numbers," says Amanda Nietzke, an operating partner of Tom’s Watch Bar.   They track exactly what she’s seen.

Sports and concerts are a huge draw and have been prior to the recent rebound, but she feels there are more events now as people are less hesitant to come to them.

"I think the biggest thing is people coming back down is people have a sense of safety now down here.  They’re able to come down in large numbers. The crime has gone down."

Statistics from the Minneapolis Crime Dashboard back that up.  Year to year, major crimes are all down:  robberies dropped 30%, car thefts are down 37%.  Homicides and carjackings are the most drastic, both dropping around 70% from the previous year.

"I will give it up to the new sheriff and the new police chief," said Amanda. "I think they’re doing an excellent job with the limited resources that they have."

What she’s noticed is not just more police presence, but a difference in how they’re present, interacting with people more than just being visible.

And just as crime jumped when downtown seemed so empty in the wake of the pandemic, it seems to wane again as the streets are more active.

"Two years ago, I would tell my family not to walk by themselves downtown.  Now I would feel comfortable with my 95-year-old grandma walking down here."