Business shuffle

Despite construction, the numbers of openings and closings on the new light-rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul are about even

By Tom Johnson

Heavy construction along the 11-mile Central Corridor light-rail line connecting the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis wrapped up in December, and despite all the upheaval, the comings and goings of businesses along the line seem just about split.

At the end of 2012, 92 businesses had opened on the corridor since construction began, compared with the 93 that had either closed or moved away.

The Metropolitan Council, the regional agency administering public transportation in the Twin Cities, says it expects that business along the corridor will see a boom once the trains start running in mid-2014.

New restrictions on development density along the 18 new stations of the Green Line, as it will be called, have forced incoming businesses to adapt. Still, development projects since 2011 will add more than 7,000 housing units and 800,000 square feet of commercial and/or retail space.

In December 2012, the Met Council announced an additional $10 million to promote more economic development, housing, and jobs along transit corridors.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis and St. Paul also want to help out small businesses during construction. "Soon the construction ... will be a distant memory," read a recent post at On the Green Line, a Met Council blog to promote businesses during construction. "In its place will be the sounds of the modern urban landscape: light rail cars carrying passengers to work, to ball games and to unique independent shops and large anchor stores _ Until then, remember that all of the unique and special businesses along the Green Line are eagerly awaiting your business. In fact, now - during light rail construction - is when these businesses would welcome you the most."