When you think of Chanhassen, the words “Paisley Park” or maybe “Dinner Theater” may come to mind, and rightly so. Both Prince’s home, recording studio/now museum and the eponymous dinner theater are located in Chanhassen, or “Chan,” if you’re a local. This quiet community that was once home to little more than picturesque rolling farmland has developed into a prosperous and growing suburb that has retained much of its pastoral appeal. Located 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis and consistently rated among the “Best Places to Live” by Money Magazine, Chanhassen has a lot going for it.
Small And Mighty
Chanhassen is Minnesota’s 41st largest city, sandwiched on the list between Owatonna and White Bear Lake, with a population of 25,000. It covers just 23 square miles, or about 15 acres. Development began in the 1960s and 70s, but really boomed between 1990-2000, when the population doubled. Since then it’s had steady growth in both residential population and business development, which includes printing, financial services, medical products, food production, and high-tech manufacturing. In addition, there are two healthcare facilities, Ridgeview Medical Center and Park Nicollet Clinic located in the city.
Educated And Comfortable Families
Chanhassen residents have all the good stuff. They’re college-educated, have high incomes (median household income is north of $110k), and own their homes. The only area where they may be lacking is in diversity, as the community is nearly 90 percent white. There are lots of families with kids here too—44 percent of Chanhassen households have children at home. For comparison, only 36 percent of nearby Eden Prairie households and 31 percent of Edina households are represented by families with children.
The Dinner Theatre
You don’t stay in business for 50 years without producing a high quality product, and in the case of the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre that product is live entertainment. In 2010 the theatre was sold to a group of employees and investors, and they have since expanded the successful “dinner and a show” formula into tribute concerts (i.e., Fleetwood Mac, The Carpenters, Guns and Roses and Sinatra) and improv comedy. But the bread and butter is still the much-loved and critically acclaimed theater productions that are a tradition for many Minnesotans. They also host weddings, private parties, film series and other events, and have a casual restaurant, Brindisi’s Pub, named for longtime director Michael Brindisi.
Carver County, where Chanhassen is located, has high voter turnout. In the last election it was the highest in the state. Chan voters usually go for the Republican candidates, but in the 2016 election they were the only city in the county where democrat Hillary Clinton had the edge (albeit by a slim margin). This could indicate either a changing wind in a community that hasn’t voted for a democratic presidential candidate since George McGovern in 1972, or just a blip in an extraordinary election year. Time will tell.
Parks Are The Law
Local regulations require every home to be within a half-mile from a park, so there are plenty of them, which makes Chanhassen a great place for growing families. The city also has 11 lakes, seven of which are recreational. Most have public beaches, boat ramps, and spaces for picnics and fishing. There are also 55 miles of walking trails in the city. Lakes Riley, Susan, Ann, Lotus and Lucy also have private homes along the shore, if you’ve got enough cash. There’s also a skate park for aspiring Tony Hawks and a recreation center with fitness equipment and classes for everyone.
Nightlife Until Nightfall
Aside from the Dinner Theatre, Chanhassen is the kind of place where summer concerts end at 8 p.m. and when the mayor cuts the ribbon at the new Chick-fil-A, it’s a newsworthy event. That’s how they like it. If you’re looking for more excitement, the city is 20 miles thataway. If you’re looking for Grandparent & Me Bingo, penny carnivals, winter fishing contests, nordic walking or pickleball, then you’ve come to the right place.
Most of the housing stock was built after 1960, and there are neighborhoods of homes from that era as well as newer developments built in the decades after. The median home value is $335,200, which is well above most Minnesota cities. Homes can be found in that range in older neighborhoods to upwards of a million on or near the lakes. Chanhassen also has townhouses and some apartment buildings. Jan Rome, a real estate agent who has worked in the community for 30 years says that one of the qualities that sets Chanhassen apart from its suburban neighbors is the topography—the fact that housing developments aren’t built around a flat squared off grid but integrated with the rolling hills, wetlands and natural environment. The commute to work and the airport are manageable too, with most residents having easy access to major freeways.
Chanhassen is part of Eastern Carver County School District 112, which also serves the communities of Chaska, Carver, and Victoria. Most Chanhassen teens attend Chanhassen High School which is not only housed in an impressive facility built in 2009, but also ranked highly for its rigorous college prep and STEM curriculum, and plentiful extracurricular activities. The district also offer a Spanish immersion grade school and arts-focused high school. Private options include St Hubert’s for preschool-grade 8, and Holy Family High School in nearby Victoria.
Fitting that the gentle and private artist Prince chose this quiet community as his home base. Before his sudden death, Paisley Park was just his nondescript home and recording studio that most people would drive by without a thought save the fans who would show up for his occasional and infamous late night concerts and dance parties. Now it is a full-fledged tourist attraction that has seen over 40,000 visitors from all over the world since opening as a museum last year.