Spring 2011

The Newsletter of the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

Table of Contents

MN GIS/LIS Consortium

From the Chair
Conference Planning

Mn/DOT Road Closures Site
Economic Data
Gypsy Moth Response

Proximity Finder

Red River LiDAR

Minneapolis Predictive Crime Mapping
Anoka Co. Recreation
GIS - Core Govt. Service

Land Cover 2006
USGS Historic Topo Scanning

Higher Education
Smart Growth & Transit

Will Craig, UCGIS Fellow
Robert McMaster, UCGIS Education Award
Marv Bauer, Pecora Award


Using GIS to Identify Suitable Areas for Smart Growth and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) for Specific Areas within the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota
By Nick Meyers, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota

Renewed interest in America’s cities and investment in transit has led to the development of new transit oriented developments (TODs) and other Smart Growth developments being built all across the country.  The City of Minneapolis already has a high participation in alternate modes of transportation - cycling has become increasingly popular, with 3.8 percent of commuters using it as their primary mode of transportation, second highest in the United States.  Advocates claim communities benefit from TODs that provide compact development, decrease automobile dependency, add retail opportunities, and improve quality of life.  It has also been shown that residents of transit-based housing are as much as five times more likely to commute to work using rail than their counterparts.

Final Map: Higher values (shown in red) are more suitable for transit-oriented development.

In order for these benefits to take hold, there needs to be investment in transit systems and land use planning.  The connection between land use and transit choices such as light rail can be used as a tool to revitalize neighborhoods, end cycles of poverty, and lower crime rates.  Identifying and assembling large tracts of land that satisfy all the conditions for successful transit oriented development can be difficult.  This investment in transit and TODs might also be key to attracting to cities the young and educated people who will be essential to the well-being of metropolitan areas in the future.

Three Theme Models

This study was accomplished with GIS and Model Builder models to identify areas within the City of Minneapolis most suitable for higher density Smart Growth development and TODs.  More than 20 feature classes were organized into groups of similar features that resulted in three different themes:  Land Use, Community Features, and Transit.  Model Builder was used to organize these feature classes and geoprocessing tasks in a diagram that was easy to follow and understand.  There were a total of four models built, one for each of the three themes and one for the final model that combined each submodel to identify the most suitable areas for TODs in the City of Minneapolis.

The Land Use model provided an understanding of areas within the City that have mixed use and higher density land types conducive for TODs.  The Community Features model identified assets that attract people from areas beyond the city and maintain an urban form that is more pedestrian friendly than other portions of the city, such as schools, parks, job centers, retail and cultural features.  The Transit submodel provided a thorough understanding of areas with high levels of public transportation service such as Light Rail Transit (LRT), Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), bus service, car sharing vehicles, and also areas that are served by trails and bikeways.

Process undertaken during analysis to evaluate data layers to create final suitability layer.

Final Model

The final model was a compilation of the three submodels (Land Use, Community Features, and Transit) that identified the most suitable lands for development in the City of Minneapolis.  The highest obtained values were found within the central portion of the City between Downtown and the University of Minnesota campus.  Other areas that scored high were areas near LRT stations, neighborhoods with high levels of bus service, and areas identified in the Minneapolis plan for sustainability as activity centers such as Uptown and Lyn-Lake neighborhoods, southwest of Downtown.  Areas that measured poorly lacked major retail or employment areas, had lower concentrations of high density land uses, and were not served by LRT and BRT stations.  With future transit investments, these areas may one day become ideal places to locate more sustainable types of development.  The results of the study may be of interest for future studies, policy makers, planners, developers, transit and TOD advocates, or informed citizens. 

To find out more on this study, visit

For more information, contact Nick Meyers at: