CBSN MinnesotaWatch

Fmr. NBA Star, North Minneapolis Native Devean George Brings Affordable Housing To Hometown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A former NBA world champion with ties to north Minneapolis is celebrating the opening of brand-new affordable housing.

Devean George and his business partners are doing what they can to transform the landscape and overall feel of the north side with this project.

The second phase of Commons at Penn Avenue is complete, and Penn Avenue Union — designed by national award-winning architect Jamil Ford — does not disappoint.

“Luxury living at an affordable price,” Ford said.

(credit: CBS)

It’s comprised of 63 units that are a mixture of one, two and three bedrooms.

“We want to have an opportunity to create an environment that really allows residents to feel good about where they live,” Ford said.

He wanted to improve on the first phase of the project.

“To increase the overall sizes of some of the residential windows on the first floor,” Ford said.

Ford and business partner George have one goal: Make affordable housing units that look anything but.

“A lot of times I get a lot of the credit, but I got a great team of people,” George said.

He was part of three NBA championship teams with the Los Angeles Lakers. He tries to recreate that special connection with his very own team.

“I’m taking from a pool of great resources that people are passing over, a lot of Black women,” George said.

(credit: CBS)

His property manager, director of operations, compliance manager and head of maintenance are all Black women. The construction company, architect and developer are all Black-owned-and-operated companies.

For George, this is more than brick and mortar — it’s about community. He grew up a couple of blocks away. He hopes to fill these units with people in need of a second chance.

“I’m not going to be a robot when it comes to the application process of people getting in, because that’s the problem,” George said. “People may have a criminal record, people may have gotten out of jail, they have made some decisions in the past that may prevent them from getting housing.”

He hopes people begin to take pride in where they live, interact with their neighbors and build relationships that help build community.

George says several partners have made this project possible, including the city of Minneapolis, Bremer Banks and the Phillips and Poland foundations.