“Where should I live?”
Everyone asks this simple, yet important, question at some point. And the final decision impacts all areas of our lives, potentially for the rest of our life! Join us in the coming months as we explore many of the Minneapolis-St. Paul neighborhoods and communities to help provide some insight and guidance for your answer! First up – Bloomington!
Rich in Minnesota history, high in employment opportunity and loaded with recreational areas, Bloomington is currently the 5th largest Minnesota city with just over 85,000 people. The Dakota Sioux Indians inhabited this area – “I-ca-hta-ka-the”, where the water touches the bluffs – in the late 1830s after leaving the Lake Calhoun area (Bde Maka Ska) to escape their bitter enemies, the Chippewa Indians. Nearby Fort Snelling, built in 1819, had brought a few settlers but the area was largely uninhabited. Gideon Pond, a missionary, had been working with the Sioux and followed them here in 1843. That same year, Bloomington’s first house was built near 10th Avenue Circle. And Old Shakopee Road was the primary “road” (trail would be a better term!) from Shakopee to Fort Snelling.
On May 11, 1858, not only was Minnesota admitted as the 32nd state of the United States, but Bloomington was organized by 25 people and became a town! Things grew slowly and by 1950, only 9,902 people lived in Bloomington. By 1970, Bloomington had multiplied by nearly nine times to almost 82,000 people and an employment base of 43,000 people! These two decades brought explosive growth to every facet of Bloomington life – business, education, government, infrastructure and recreation. Among the many projects, there were 3 high school and middle schools built as well as 10 elementary schools. Normandale Community College, major road construction (I35W and I494), business and industrial parks, recreational parks and facilities and 2 new fire stations are just a few of the notable projects during this remarkable period of growth. At the same time, Bloomington gained national attention, too, as the home of Minnesota sports with the building of Metropolitan Stadium (Twins and Vikings) and the Metropolitan Sports Center (North Stars and High School Hockey Tournament).
Today, Bloomington has about 85,000 people and over 90,000 people employed. After the Twins and Vikings moved to the Metrodome in 1982, the Metropolitan Stadium location was rebuilt into the Mall of America which opened in 1992 as the largest mall in America. It still holds that distinction today as well as being the 12th largest mall in the world! It has about 42,000,000 visitors each year with 80% of them being from neighboring Midwestern states and Canada.
Bloomington has a thriving business community with major employers including Mall of America, Health Partners, Seagate Technology, Donaldson Companies, The Toro Company, NCS Pearson, Barr Engineering, Holiday Station stores, Thermo King and General Dynamics. The Toro Company houses its international headquarters here after relocating in 1947 making it one of the longest standing major companies in the city.
Independent School District #271 encompasses the Bloomington Public Schools with 2 high schools, 3 middle schools and 10 elementary schools serving over 10,500 students. According to http://www.niche.com, ISD 271 ranks #89 out of 342 Minnesota school districts and has a student-teacher ratio of 15:1. Niche.com has Jefferson High School (8 out of 10) as the highest rated public school. Seven Hills Preparatory Academy, an elementary charter school, also rates an 8 out of 10 score. Private schools include Nativity of Mary (PK-8), United Christian Academy (PK-12), Bloomington Lutheran School (PK-8) and Ramalynn Montessori Academy (PK-8).
Bloomington is also home to a number of colleges including Normandale Community College, Northwestern Health Sciences University, Rasmussen College, Bethany Global University and National American University.
Fun abounds in Bloomington with 97 parks and nearly 9,000 acres of parkland, 25 hiking trails (longest is 13.5 miles), Dwan Golf Course, Hyland Hills Ski Area, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Bush Lake Beach, Bloomington Family Aquatic Center, the Bloomington Ice Garden and more. Local cultural activities include the Bloomington Symphony, Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs, Artistry (award winning local theater group), Bloomington Chorale, Medalist Concert Band, NOTEable Singers, the Inez Greenberg Gallery and the Atrium Gallery as well as the Continental Ballet Company. And there are dozens of excellent local restaurants including Ciao Bella, Kincaid’s, David Fong’s, Hazelwood, 98 Pounds Buffet, Zeke’s Place, Sawatdee and, my favorite, Luna di Luna (authentic Italian restaurant).
For sports, the Bloomington Athletic Association offers kids 12 different sports and serves over 5,000 participants every year. It is recognized as the largest volunteer sports organization in the United States! The city sponsors 10 different adult sports options, too. Finally, Bloomington is home to the annual Bloomington Fireman’s Softball tournament (started 1959), one of the largest tournaments in the country attracting over 150 teams and 25,000 attendees!
Comprising 34.68 miles of land, Bloomington is the 20th largest city by land area in Minnesota (906 cities total). So, housing is diverse ranging from luxury homes, upscale townhomes and condos, modest mid-century ramblers, with high-end apartment buildings and modest and low-income housing options in the mix, too. Most prevalent is the affordable 1950s rambler style home (commonly seen in east and central Bloomington) but there are also various style high-end homes along the river bluffs and in the areas of west Bloomington around Bush Lake, Hyland Lake and Normandale Lake.
Home values have been on the rise every year since 2011 when the median sales price was $157,000. For 2019, the median sales price was $279,900, an increase of 78%. For the most part, Bloomington has seen consistent annual price increases of about 7% during the 2010s. Looking closer at east and west Bloomington, the 2019 median sales price was $259,950 and $301,000, respectively, for each side of the city. While the city has seen strong appreciation, east and central Bloomington, in particular, have remained a generally affordable option for many first-time and move-up buyers and is expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Bloomington has a strong core of business employment, generally affordable housing and above average educational achievement. There is also a strong community-based focus on utilizing, maintaining and preserving its natural resources (Minnesota River Valley, ponds, lakes and wetland areas) for coming generations. With the ever-improving major traffic routes of I35W and I494, both Minneapolis and St. Paul are easily accessible and this is further enhanced with the addition of light-rail transit on the east side in 2004. Finally, and knowing first-hand having been a long-time resident, the friendly, caring, diverse people of this community make Bloomington a wonderful place to call home!