Washington County’s Lake Elmo in some ways seems like a place that time forgot. Though it’s located in the corner created where interstates 94 and 694 intersect – and though Highway 36 constitutes its northern border – the 24 square miles that make up Lake Elmo remain primarily farmland, lending the city a distinctly rural feel despite the fact it’s just 14 miles east of St. Paul. It revolves around a quaint downtown area that features the Lake Elmo Inn, which is widely recognized among the best eateries in the Twin Cities, and other boutique and retail shops. 

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Lake Elmo New Construction

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Named after a water body called Lake Elmo, the city has experienced slow and steady growth. In 1970, the city was home to 3,500 people. By 2014, 8,594 called Lake Elmo home. By the city’s population is expected to more than double by 2040 – to 18,200 residents – and the city already is planning for growth in two districts (the I-94 Corridor and the Old Village). The city has emphasized walkability and access to open and recreational space in its growth plans. “In order to build off Lake Elmo’s treasured asset of open space, it is critical to incorporate strategies for providing housing that maintain and protect the city’s natural resources,” according to the city’s comprehensive plan. “These natural resources greatly contribute to the character and vibrancy of Lake Elmo and must be accordingly preserved.” 

 Though Lake Elmo includes some townhomes and multifamily housing units built in the early 2000s, all housing permits since 2004 have been for single-family detached homes. Permit numbers have been increasing since 2011, and the 41 issued in 2014 is the highest number since 2002. Going forward, it’s expected the city will feature a greater mix of housing types at varying densities. 

Parks and recreational areas are important parts of Lake Elmo. There are 16 city parks that cater to a variety of activities such as organized sports and hiking, and it’s also home to two larger parks – the 284-acre Sunfish Lake Park and the 2,165-acre Lake Elmo Park Reserve, which is on the eastern shore of Lake Elmo and which also includes Eagle Point Lake. Eighty percent of Lake Elmo Park Reserve is preserved and protected and the eventual goal is the land will look like it did when Lake Elmo’s first settlers arrived in the mid-1800s. However, the park also has a variety of amenities including an archery range, fishing pier, biking and hiking trails, and campgrounds. 



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Listing information last updated on October 19th, 2019 at 6:20pm CDT.