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Patty Franklin stands on a sidewalk with earphones in her ears and fall colors in the background.

Patty Franklin's commute takes her down historic 5th Street S.E. in Minneapolis. She's one of an increasing number of people choosing to live close to work in order to save time, energy, and money, to feel better and to be close to places they love.

Loving the commute

Neighborhoods close to the Twin Cities campus seek faculty and graduate students

By Jan Morlock

Brief, Oct. 25, 2006

Patty Franklin walks the commute to her job at the Twin Cities campus, and she treasures every moment of it. From her home in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood of Minneapolis, Franklin often makes time for the slow route to Morrill Hall, where she works in the Office of the President.

"The best thing about walking to work is that it's my time to clear my head," she says. Franklin varies her route, often walking down 5th Street S.E. to look at the historic houses and see what her neighbors have done lately in their gardens. She sometimes walks through Dinkytown to see what's in the store windows. She walks the same neighborhood streets where John Pillsbury, the University's founding benefactor, and Maria Sanford, the University's first woman professor, once lived.

Franklin is one of the growing number of people who have turned a trend around and made the choice to live close to their work, to recapture precious time that they once spent stuck in traffic, sitting in their cars. They do it to save money, energy, time, to feel better physically, or just to be close to places they love to visit. In fact, Franklin has decided not to own a car at all. She gets around on foot, by bicycle, and by ZipCar, the convenient car rental option now provided by the University.


Does living within walking distance to work or classes at the U appeal to you? Take three minutes to complete a housing interests survey to help plan attractive housing options within walking distance for faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni. Sponsored by the U's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs and neighborhoods adjacent to the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Go to the Housing Interests survey.

So, it's a charming neighborhood with historic houses. What about the other things a person needs in order to live?

"Not a problem," says Franklin. "The cultural and shopping options keep getting better."

On the nearby riverfront at St. Anthony Main are a movie theater and restaurants. The Old St. Anthony area of East Hennepin has lots of good shopping, with a new Lund's grocery store opening next month. And when she wants to branch out beyond her neighborhood, "I can ride my bike across the Stone Arch Bridge, or take a five-minute bus ride to downtown Minneapolis."

Choices in housing options within easy walking, biking, and busing distance to the University have increased dramatically in the last few years. In addition to the variety of well-built, traditional, single-family houses, new condos, lofts, town homes, and apartments have sprung up in every direction from campus. Former industrial buildings, warehouses, grain elevators, and even the original Pillsbury flour mill are being transformed into lofty, creative living spaces, many with views of the city, the University, and the river.


Financing a Home
Wednesday, Nov. 15

Living Close to the U
Thursday, Dec. 14

For more information and to register, see WorkLife Seminars.

The welcome mat is out--neighborhoods near campus are organizing, very deliberately, to attract university faculty, staff, alumni, and students to come and live in their communities. The neighborhoods of Marcy-Holmes, Southeast Como, and Prospect Park are collaborating with local government and developers to allow creative zoning and site and building design to accommodate new population growth and new mixes of housing and commercial space. They're reaching out to graduate students and their families to encourage them to rent, and eventually purchase, a home in the campus neighborhoods. They are investigating the possibilities for life-cycle housing--building attractive places where University faculty, staff, and alumni of retirement age would want to live. The three neighborhoods, with the assistance of the University's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, have created an online survey to assess your interests in wishing to live near campus. Link to the survey (see box, above left) and take three minutes to let them know what you are thinking.

"What I like best about living in a neighborhood near campus is the flat-out convenience," says Peg Wolff, who lives in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, works in the Office of University Relations, and chairs the Civil Service Committee. "If I need to tend to my dogs or just want to have lunch at home in my own kitchen, I can zip back and forth in no time, and my route is along West River Parkway! What could be lovelier? In the summer, I come to work on my bike just because it's a beautiful trip."

If you're thinking of a move, check out the advantages of living close to campus. Attend the upcoming workshop series (see box, above right) created especially for Twin Cities campus faculty and staff, sponsored by the Office of Human Resources Work/Life and Wellness Program, the Office of Relocation Assistance, and the Office of University Relations.

Jan Morlock is the director of community relations for the Twin Cities campus in the Office of University Relations.