By Jay Walljasper
"A new era for the Twin Cities dawns in a few days when the Green Line opens between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. Debated and planned for 40 years, this billion-dollar light rail route shows every sign of transforming the two central cities the same way that billions of dollars in highway projects since the 1950s spurred suburban development."
The first light-rail train does not leave Union Depot until Saturday (June 14), but Minneapolis and St. Paul are already seeing unprecedented growth as young adults and empty-nesters move into neighborhoods along the line that were disparaged as “inner city” just a few years ago. Minneapolis recently passed the 400,000 mark in population, its highest since the mid-1970s, and St. Paul will soon reach 300,000. Economic investment is following suit, with an estimated $2.5 billion in commercial and residential development underway along the 11-mile route, and more projects in the offing.
While this represents good news for the entire region — no metropolitan area thrives when the core city stagnates — the arrival of the Green Line is generating particular excitement for key anchor institutions along its route. Anchor is a new term to describe educational, cultural and medical institutions that are rooted in the neighborhoods where they are located. A college, medical center or museum complex is not likely to pack up and move to the suburbs or out of the country. These institutions feel a particular stake in making sure their communities remain safe, stable and appealing."