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New data from Minneapolis Downtown Council reflect quieter streets, businesses

Light rail ridership and foot traffic are about a quarter of what they were in recent years, according to the data. Office buildings are even more vacant.
Credit: Ellery McCardle, KARE 11
Minneapolis Skyline

MINNEAPOLIS — New numbers released Friday show a significant downward trend in traffic, dining and business in downtown Minneapolis, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to buffet the economy.

The data was tracked as part of the Minneapolis Downtown Council's "reanimation" initiative, publicizing open and available spaces as some businesses and restaurants close while other organizations begin to go back to the workplace. 

According to data provided by the council, Minneapolis restaurants are serving 43% of the seated diners they had at this time last year.

Light rail ridership is one-quarter of what it was last year at the same time, system-wide. And pedestrian traffic on Nicollet in downtown Minneapolis is 23.4% of what it was at the same time two years ago, in 2018.

Credit: Minneapolis Downtown Council
Data from the Minneapolis Downtown Council reflects a quieter city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hotels are currently occupied at 18.1% of their total capacity, according to SmithTravel Research. In 2019, they were occupied at 68.1%.

And a sample of downtown Minneapolis' largest office buildings shows only 12.2% occupancy. Mark Remme, communications manager for the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said that's compared to a typical 100% occupancy rate pre-COVID and remote work.

A series of business and restaurant closings has left empty spaces and streets across Minnesota, many of them in Minneapolis. Hennepin County has the most coronavirus cases in the state by far, with more than 25,000 as of Friday. Ramsey County has the second-most in the state but is far behind Hennepin with just over 10,000.

The data released by the Minneapolis Downtown Council is current as of Sept. 15. They said that while sources for the information "are deemed reputable ... data continues to change rapidly."

BOMA Greater Minneapolis, Meet Minneapolis and Minneapolis Federal Reserve also helped to gather and provide the information.

The downtown council plans to keep its dashboard updated at mplsdowntown.com/reanimation. They will also keep a list of open restaurants and retail businesses in the downtown area.

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