Meet the Brown/Larsson Family

Tell Us About Your Family

We moved here in 2003 from the east coast and we live in the North Loop in a loft condominium inside a converted warehouse. Anna works in business, Peter is an urban development consultant, Magnus is in first grade at Yinghua Academy, in Northeast, Astrid goes to the YWCA child care center, and Russell, our 15 year old black cat, came here with us from back east.

What first drew you to living downtown?

Before coming to Minneapolis, Peter lived in center city Philadelphia for 17 years (without a car) and Anna lived in Philly and in New York. When we moved here we wanted to live in a similar urban environment where we could walk to as a part of everyday life – to work, parks, and out to dinner. So we picked the North Loop because it was close to downtown, along the river, and it looked like it had the potential to become a great urban neighborhood.

Why do you choose to stay here?

We stay because we have always lived in cities and we can’t imagine living anywhere else. When we had kids everybody asked “when are you moving out?” They think we are crazy – our condo is spacious but it doesn’t really have any “rooms.” But we have a yard, we can walk downtown for meeting or out to dinner, we have access to wonderful bike trails, and we can walk to the playground on the riverfront. Most important, we have great neighbors in our building. We don’t have any family here but our kids have a big bunch of wonderful eccentric aunties and uncles and friends.

What is your favorite thing about living downtown?

We can walk downtown for meeting or out to dinner or across the Stone Arch Bridge to catch a movie at St Anthony Main. We have access to wonderful bike trails, and we can walk to the playground on the riverfront. And it is fun to watch downtown continue to grow and change as more and more people move in.

What is your least favorite thing about living downtown?

Being a pioneer is tough. We still have a long ways to go until downtown is really filled in and people are used to urban living. What is yet to come is a better mix of old and new stock, owned and rental, and people, and drivers and pedestrians together must learn to think differently about streets and public space. And although we talk a lot about density, this place where we live on the prairie is still pretty spread out. You still have to hike a bit to find certain amenities. All of this will happen, we would just like it to happen sooner.

What would make living downtown even better?

We need more streetlights and crosswalks on Washington Ave. Cars can really gain speed in the four blocks between 6th and 10th and it needs to be more pedestrian friendly. It is also time for the City to invest a little in our streets – public realm matters and some of the streets in the North Loop are awful – the public investment has not caught up with all the development and all of the new people.

What is your favorite family activity here?

Family bicycle rides on the terrific bike trails. We make an adventure out of biking to Rustica or the Midtown Global Market for brunch and then an exotic playground in another part of the city. We also just love walking or biking to the playground on the riverfront.

Do you have a favorite family-friendly business (restaurant, coffee shop, store, etc.)?

The kids love French Toast at Freehouse, which is very family friendly. And Story Time and Childish Films at the Central Library have been central to our lives since our first child was born – the library is wonderful. And it is nice to sit outside on the patio at Club Jaeger, which the kids call “the bar.”

What advice would you give to someone who may be considering becoming a “downtown family?”

Abandon your ideas and preconceived notions of what home and community means. We live a rich life in our building and neighborhood and it bears little resemblance to typical notions of “The American Dream” – we think it is better in so many ways.

How long have you lived downtown?

5 years +