MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For nearly 15 years, Michael Hagie has sold everything from home decor to soap at his store, Gather on France.

In order to shop, he says his customers depend on parking their cars at the Ewing Municipal Parking Lot, located directly behind his store.

“We just really rely on it … part of the culture of Minneapolis is we are in the Midwest. We drive cars,” said Hagie.

Those 82 spaces may disappear if an idea to build affordable housing there becomes reality. Councilmember Linea Palmisano says the 0.7 acre, city-owned lot provides a rare opportunity for new construction of affordable housing.

“In terms of buildable parts of our city, this municipal parking lot in Fulton is really one of our only options in southwest,” said Palmisano.

There is no formal plan in place yet, but Palmisano believes the area could house a three-story structure with between five and 17 affordable units. The idea would be to make them available from somewhere between 30% to 60% average median income.

She recognizes the importance of small businesses in the city, but insists there are other options for parking in the area.

“There are also new parking facilities that will increase the total amount of free parking in the area to more than 300 more parking spaces,” said Palmisano.

If the lot goes away, Hagie claims he will be forced to shut down.

“There is no way that I can survive as a business here. A lot of my neighbors have said the same thing,” said Hagie.

Councilmember Palmisano says the next step for the idea is researching and collecting more data. That will include traffic and parking studies.

Mary McGuire

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