Reinventing Minneapolis, Bringing the past into the future

Star Tribune Editorial Board

Wednesday, December 08, 1999

A steady flow of news stories in the Star Tribune tells of renovation and renewal at widely scattered locations in Minneapolis. The stories range from proposals to completed projects. Examples range from the Grain Belt brewery northeast to Dania Hall on the West Bank to Healy Block houses in south Minneapolis. Others include the crosstown Greenway, the Mill Ruins, a Prairie School church, the Franklin Avenue theater.

One project is timely today. It's the inner-city Phillips Park Initiative, spearheaded by Lutheran Social Service and Allina's Phillips Eye Clinic, and helped by numerous other organizations. The initiative's first phase involves 29 condominiums - seven in three old but renovated Park Avenue mansions and 22 in adjacent two-family carriage houses and townhouses now being erected. The seven mansion condos have buyers signed up, and today a real-estate closing for the first will return home ownership to the east side of Park Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets. To the east, the initiative also makes grants to improve properties and relocate driveways to the rear in the 2400 block of Chicago Avenue.

The Phillips Park Initiative is one of several housing programs that are reshaping the west end of the Phillips neighborhood, which is often called Minneapolis' poorest. A few blocks east, on Franklin Avenue, the American Indian Business Development Corp. is converting an old warehouse to retailing and offices and preparing for a celebration next week. Gov. Jesse Ventura recently visited the avenue to hear about a neighborhood group's ambitious development plans linked to Hiawatha light rail. Meanwhile, a new environmentally focused business center has just opened in Phillips' southeast corner. On Lake Street, plans are underway to reopen the Sears building for businesses employing perhaps several thousand people.

Often, revitalization projects in Phillips get help from foundations, business, government and neighborhood groups. That's true elsewhere, too, although the mix may vary project by project. The city's Neighborhood Revitalization Program has been a frequent participant. Whatever the source of renewal funds, change is happening at numerous city sites. Minneapolis, both downtown and in its neighborhoods, is reinventing itself - which is a good way to put the 20th century behind and enter the 21st.


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