An exciting, eclectic community and a point of pride for the University of Minnesota and region.

Motley is an inspired gateway on the western edge of Minneapolis’ Prospect Park neighborhood – where the University meets the community. It is alive with activities and attractions during all seasons, day and night. This is the place where neighbors, travelers, students, researchers, healers, spectators, academics, workers and innovators choose to gather.

9 principles that guide
what it means to be Motley

  1. People First

    People First

    Be an equitable and inclusive place that honors the people who are here and welcomes new ideas, cultures and voices. A magnet for talent that attracts a diverse mix of people and businesses while fostering unexpected interactions and innovation.

  2. 24/7/365


    Design a place where people come and stay during all seasons, day or night. Develop comprehensive, adaptable programming that creates experiences to suit a variety of interests and people in the public realm.

  3. Gateway


    Create a sense of arrival from all directions by showcasing University and community landmarks, old and new. Integrate with wayfinding and branding to shape a sense of place.

  4. Connected


    Link all local destinations and neighborhoods intuitively to one another through forward-thinking mobility. Create welcoming pedestrian pathways that promote points of interest.

  5. Activated + Vibrant

    Activated + Vibrant

    Curate street-level programming and retail that evolve over time. Celebrate the diversity of the community and foster planned and spontaneous interactions, indoors and out.

  6. Design


    Inspired by national, international and historic precedents to create iconic, memorable and authentic designs that support a district identity with a timeless feel. Create places that instill a sense of wonder and make people want to return.

  7. Demonstration


    A future-focused stage where new concepts can continually be tested and displayed. An internationally visible cultural focal point where ideas meet the community.

  8. Safe


    Protect through engaging and humanistic design and activity that considers open space, lighting and view corridors. Create a place welcoming to all.

  9. Sustainable


    Utilize forward-thinking infrastructure systems and digital integration. Innovate beyond best practices. Sustainable socially, environmentally, financially and operationally.




adjective | mot·lee Made up of many different people and things – eclectic, diverse, mixed, mingled.

While we love that “motley” the word means exactly what we intend for this community, Motley the place already exists.

In 1884, Motley School opened on Oak Street SE between Washington Avenue and Beacon Street. It was relocated in 1923 to make way for Memorial Stadium – where McNamara Alumni Center now stands. The area surrounding the school came to be known as Motley.

The Prospect Park neighborhood website defines Motley as the western edge of Prospect Park “where the neighborhood blends into the University of Minnesota.” Then and now, this place is a meeting ground. Motley is the intersection where the University meets the community – the place where people, ideas, commerce, creativity and energy collide.

We are excited that the name honors the rich history of the area while thinking forward to the place it can become — rooted in the past while exploring the future.

For many years, the University’s campus growth was centered around the Cass Gilbert plan of 1907-1910. Planning efforts have added onto the campus core — quickly at times. Over time, the gateway to the University has shifted, and an opportunity was identified to imagine the connection of the campus and its surroundings in a way consistent with the original vision.


A truly creative community that challenges convention, invites collaboration and instills wonder.

Stay up-to-date with the latest plans and communication from the team.


Recent urban planning areas

Our vision is to transform this vital area that connects the University of Minnesota campus and surrounding districts into a vibrant neighborhood that better serves the community and attracts new talent to the region.


Bringing Motley to life is a joint effort.


Since its inception in 2012, the University of Minnesota Foundation Real Estate Advisors (UMFREA) envisioned a vibrant gateway connecting the University to the surrounding community. To realize this vision, UMFREA began acquiring property adjacent to the University’s East Bank and studying precedent districts around the country.

UMFREA then embarked on an extensive search for a community development partner and selected UMarq Investments, a Pohlad-owned entity, for its expertise, resources and demonstrated long-term commitment to community benefit.

UMFREA’s land control now presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The partners resolve to deliver a gateway to and from campus that connects the region’s currently disconnected assets and leads with world-class public realm and innovative, mixed‐use development. The alternative is more of the same – scattershot development of one-off buildings with limited public realm amenity and limited audience of users.


Guided by its values of creativity, relationships and lasting impact, Visus will lead the creation of a visionary master plan for Motley that unites the City, University, private sector and community. Together, the partners possess the resources, talent, expertise and long-term commitment to imagine, refine and set in motion the Motley Vision.

The partners have agreed to invest equally in early area master planning, City approvals and preparations for individual third-party development.

Great plans need a great design team

The Motley Master Plan is our platform to showcase our Region's most ambitious ideas. We assembled a world-class team of designers, engineers and global thought leaders to set the stage and engage with the neighborhood, the University, the City, the Region and the State to realize this vision.

  • Shop

    SHoP Architects was founded to harness the power of diverse expertise in the design of environments that improve the quality of public life.

  • Kimley Horn

    One of the nation’s premier planning and design engineering consultants.

  • El Dorado

    An architecture, urban design, curatorial, education and fabrication practice.

  • Coen + Partners

    A nationally renowned landscape architecture practice based in the Twin Cities. A collaborative team of visionary designers who create beautiful, innovative and memorable spaces that inspire.

  • Arup group

    An independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists working across every aspect of today’s built environment.

The people and ideas are here. The future is now. Join us!

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