MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As the trial of Derek Chauvin approaches, some in north Minneapolis are hoping that they are not forgotten. They are excited about the future of the corridor, and are unwilling to allow any setbacks.
What is now a hole in the ground on West Broadway Avenue used to be home to three thriving businesses including the Olympic Cafe, a community staple.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, destruction spread through the West Broadway corridor, crushing some local businesses and temporarily shutting down critical lifelines like the Cub Foods and Walgreens
“I believe in first amendment right to protest but not at the expense of damaging our communities because at the end of the day we have to live here,” said Ken Rance, Director of Development for the Northside Economic Opportunity Network. He watched the businesses burn, and he said it the destruction cannot happen again.
There is fear, however, that it could.
“What I’m hearing from business owners and the community is that there will be so much of a focus and attention on downtown Minneapolis that north Minneapolis will be left in the wind, left in the cold, and that cant be,” he said.
Tens of millions of dollars are going into the corridor to bring it to the next level.
“We want north Minneapolis to be not a drive-through destination, but a stop-in destination,” said Rance.
Next to what used to be the Olympic Cafe is a sign of an urban renaissance: $7.5 million will turn the building into new offices and headquarters.
“It’s going to be a $60 million here, there’s going to be market-rate housing, affordable housing, and housing for seniors”said Rance. It’s the type of development that Rance says needs to be protected at all costs.
“Regardless of what the results of the verdict are we still demand and we still need support services here in north Minneapolis,” he said, so the neighborhood can build on its momentum and bring others into the fold to be part of the revival.
The Northside Economic Opportunity Network has a commercial real estate development fund which provides loans to developers who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
Rance says talks are happening ahead of the trial between neighborhood and city leaders.
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