City of Edina launches program to prevent teardowns


Madeline Brandel

Hard hats on: Edina residence constructed near the high school.

Hannah Owens Pierre, staff writer

Two months ago, approximately 3,000 Edina residents living in single-family homes assessed up to $425,000 received a postcard on behalf of Homes Within Reach (HWR). The City of Edina recently approved additional funding for HWR, a non-profit organization that seeks to create and preserve affordable home opportunities. “Do you want to sell your home, but not for a teardown?” the mail offer read. 

According to data from Minneapolis Area Realtors, the average sales price of an Edina home in March 2021 was roughly $772,956, a sharp increase from the 2020 average sales price of $482,174. The pandemic has also exacerbated the rise in prices. Vox reported on Feb. 5 that the exploding demand for suburban houses due to the shift to working at home caused the housing market to boom. To satisfy the demand, teardowns have drastically increased, leaving few options for low-income buyers. Since 2008, nearly 1,000 Edina homes have been demolished, accounting for almost 8% of Edina’s single-family homes. 

To provide homeowners with a different option, the City of Edina launched the Housing Preservation Program in conjunction with Homes Within Reach. Stephanie Hawkinson, the Affordable Housing Development Manager of the City of Edina, says the creation of the program was fueled by public demand. “We have heard from Edina residents over the past many years that they are concerned about the number of modest homes that have been torn down and replaced with very large luxury homes that [are] changing the character of the neighborhood and…making Edina less accessible for modest-income households,” Hawkinson said. 

Houses purchased through the program are funded by developer buy-in funds, which are funds collected from housing developers who provide money to the city for affordable housing, instead of constructing them.

Last month, Edina City Councilmember Carolyn Jackson responded to resident concerns about the program in an email about the importance of affordable housing. “As a candidate for City Council, the issue I heard about most frequently and passionately was the loss of smaller homes in our city. The loss of ownership opportunities for middle-income families in our community changes our economic diversity,” Jackson said. 

According to Hawkinson, public response to the program has been largely positive. “People are happy for…another option for selling their home.  They raised their kids in the home and want it available for other families to live there.  It’s not 100% positive – some people are opposed to affordable housing, but the vast majority of the responses I receive are positive,” Hawkinson said.