Downtown Minneapolis seeing a rebound, leaders say

Minneapolis seems to be taking steps forward when it comes to the state of its downtown.

The Downtown Council celebrated the progress at their annual meeting on Wednesday, which brought together companies and groups that have a real stake in the downtown area. There was definitely a positive vibe, which of course is good news after a couple of pretty rough years.

With the height of the pandemic pain now behind us, this time around there were things to celebrate when looking back over the last year. Most importantly, people are downtown once again.

"People complain to me all the time that they can't get their coffee as fast as they used to and I sympathize, but deep inside I'm like, 'Yes, that's exactly what we want,'" said Downtown Council CEO Steve Kramer.

Companies are bringing back their employees; 63.9% returned to the office in 2022, which is up 56% from 2021.

The mayor is clearly hoping those numbers increase. "Bring your people back and get them to remember all of the extraordinary things we love about our city that maybe you've forgotten over the last couple of years when you're sitting at home watching Netflix on your couch," said Mayor Jacob Frey. "All of those things are still here."

The number of visitors downtown is on the upswing, officials say, with more positive experiences than in years past.

"Nearly 80% of residents who went to downtown in the fall of 2022 described it as more vibrant than their last visit," said Leah Wong with the Downtown Council.

There are some noted things to work on, including retail vacancies, which lead to an increase in storefront vacancies.

"There's no doubt that we've had our valleys, but there's been great hope and momentum in the last several months. The return of public safety is very tangible," said outgoing MDC and Downtown Improvement District Board Chair Mike Ryan.

On that note, violent crime is down, and downtown leaders are crediting the Minneapolis Police Department's Operation Endeavor.