In 1945, the city of Minneapolis stopped at Mother's Lake where the 62 Crosstown is now. The villages of Richfield and Bloomington were out in the country, about five miles south of downtown Minneapolis, and fields of vegetables and a poultry farm occupied the land where Mall of America now sits. But, at the end of WW II, returning veterans and their growing families needed homes, and so residential development of the area commenced, the result, modest ramblers on small, flat lots. And, when Richfield was finished, they moved across what is now the 1-494 "strip" of shopping, restaurants, and bars to the farm fields of Bloomington, giving birth to the second ring of Minneapolis' suburbs and the state's third-largest city.
The grid-style streets, Cape Cods, and small ramblers are with us still, along with some 1970s split-levels and a few old farmhouses. While the bulk of homes in this area are "maturing," many have already been replaced with contemporary housing or "transformed" into more valuable commercial real estate. Executive-level homes may be found around Wood Lake in Richfield and along the river bluffs in East Bloomington. Most houses, however, run around 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, have detached onecar garages, and sell for under Sl 50,000. Because of their size and affordability, these houses go quickly, often to young, single professionals.
The housing in these communities is dense, and the populations now stand at about 40,000 for Richfield and 90,000 for the City of Bloomington. Many people who live here work either at the Mall of America or in one of the 25 hotels close by. Despite having a number of commercial, retail and industrial areas, neither Richfield nor Bloomington has a real downtown.
This region, south of Minneapolis, abuts Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and is affected by airplane noise, possibly capping property values. And while the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) has bought and tom down more than 400 houses in this area, and provided sound-insulation in others, residents fear that MAC's programs have stalled-out. When looking here for housing, keep in mind that noise is a serious problem, and the airport's proposed north-south runway may make some houses uninhabitable. Both Bloomington and Richfield do have a number of programs in place to assist homeowners who are upgrading or replacing the older housing. Richfield, for example, will help finance new buyers, and for those looking to remodel, will supply a "remodeling advisor." Each January the city holds the "Street of Possibilities Remodeling Fair'' at the Richfield High School.
Despite the noise, Richfield and East Bloomington are desirable areas, particularly to renters, due in part to its central location along freeways 494 and 35W. About one-third of the housing units are rentals, and vacancy rates are low. You will find apartments, double bungalows, and single-family homes to rent here as well.
Both cities have many recreation facilities. Richfield's Wood Lake Nature Center is a 149-acre nature preserve with walking paths and floating boardwalks and an excellent interpretive center located at 735 Lake Shore Drive, 612-861-9365. Young children love the nature center's Half-Haunted Halloween which features face painting and the Trick-orTreat Trail. Richfield also has a community center, an ice arena, two golf courses and a SO-meter city pool featuring a 29-foot-high double waterslide. The east half of Bloomington boasts Knott's Camp Snoopy at the Mall of America and the Minnesota Valley National WIidiife Refuge, 38155 East 80th Street, 952-335-2323, a floodplain and forest along the Minnesota River.
Richfield is served by Independent School District #280. It has about 4,500 students in three elementary schools, one intermediate school, one junior high and one high school. Bloomington is served by Independent School District #271, 952-885-8454.
Web Site: www.ci.richfield.mn.us
Area Code: 612
Zip Code: 55423
Post Office: 825 West 65th Street, 800-275-8777
City Hall: 6700 Portland Avenue, 612-861-9700
Police/Fire non-emergency: 6 l 2-861-9800
Hospital: Fairview Southdale, 6401 France Avenue, 952-924-5000, www.fairview.org
Libraries: Augsburg Park, 7100 Nicollet Avenue, 612-869-8863; Southdale Regional Library, 7001 York Avenue, 612-830-4900, www.hennepin.lib.mn.us
School: District #280, 612-798-6000,www.richfield.kl2.mn.us
Community Publication: Richfield Sun Current, 612-829-0797, www.mnsun.com
Chamber of Commerce: 612-866-5100
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