I wouldn't be so quick to call front yards unused, even at apartment buildings. Some of them, yes. But there are many of the "ugly" 50s-70s 2-3 story walkups with a small stoop where I see small families sitting on the step and kids running around on the sidewalk and onto the grass. Additionally, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who wants to throw most of the region's current zoning code out the window, but modest front setbacks (and side-yards on corner lots) don't bother me too much. Hate to be "that guy" but it's nice to have a place for snow to go in the winter, which includes melted snow as it melts and drains off MFH rooftops (and either re-freezes in the winter or needs a place to filter in the spring). I don't like regulating personal taste or outcomes, but it's also not terrible to give people on the first floor of these units a little bit of buffer from the sidewalk. 5-10 feet is enough to meet all those public/private needs, which is less than the current 15' (which is still not awful by national standards tbh). I've said it before, but Minneapolis' zoning districts are mostly good already, we just need more parcels in the city to be in the R3-R5 range.
Re: MNdible's question. If I'm reading this right, yes BUT:
It’s important to note that the building code, for fire safety purposes, regulates window openings near property lines. No new openings are allowed within three feet of a property line. Beyond three feet from a property line, the building code regulates the percentage of a building wall that may include windows based on the distance from the property line, the construction type, and whether the proposed construction has a sprinkler system.
So the building code already would prohibit that within 3' of the lot line. They should amend the proposal to say new residential windows facing a side lot line (facing another C zone) can't be <5' from the lot line so that the owner of the parcel next door doesn't have any larger of a burden to meet the 10' requirement.