Mill District City Apartments: a housing market turn-around

Mill City

Yesterday I was proud to break ground on an exciting housing project that is going to bring life and investment to downtown Minneapolis. A block from the banks of the Mississippi River, yesterday we helped launch construction on Mill District City apartments, a new $25 Million project at the corner of Washington & Portland avenues, in what was an empty and vacant lot right in heart of the Mill district. The project is being done by Village Green with persistent and full support from the city of Minneapolis in conjunction with a wide array of community partners who are actively contributing to the economic recovery of our city.

Projects like this are going to give a boost to our economy, hiring local workers and using Minnesota businesses. Once occupied, the building will provide hundreds of new customers for local businesses and provide $350,000 for the city of Minneapolis. Additionally, the building is also going to adhere to the National Green Building Standard. All of which is great news. A project like this one shows that even in these tough economic times, when financing and development is hard to come by, the city’s economy is growing and Minneapolis is open for business!

Rybak gets award for working to keep kids safe from violence

Minneapolis has taken gigantic steps forward in preventing and stopping youth violence. It is one of the things that Mayor Rybak is most proud of. Yesterday the mayor was honored to receive an award from the Minnesota Youth Programs Intervention Association, who do incredible work promoting effective early intervention services for youth all year-long. The Mayor was given their “Legislative Leadership Award”, particularly in recognition for the implementation of Minneapolis’ “Blueprint to Prevent Youth Violence”.

Mayor Rybak launched the Blueprint to Prevent Youth Violence back in 2008 in conjunction with community leaders, law enforcement, and stakeholders with the intent of changing how we view the problem of youth violence in our city. We began to view the issue in terms of a public health strategy, focusing on preventing some of the core issues that cause violence and intervening to keep kids out of the criminal justice system.

Since the implementation of the program, Minneapolis has seen double digit drops in crime and the trend is continuing. I’m proud to say that Minneapolis is safer and we are catching youth before they fall through the cracks. Many thanks to the Minnesota Youth Programs Intervention Association for recognizing Mayor Rybak’s work on this, as we are going to continue to do everything we can to prevent youth violence in the city and keep our kids safe.

Continued revitalization in North Minneapolis

Standing with construction workers at new % Points development
Mayor Rybak standing with construction workers at the new “5 Points” project on West Broadway and Penn Ave. in North Minneapolis.

Today Mayor Rybak stood proudly with Catalyst Community Partners and many community leaders to break ground on the new 5 Points Building on West Broadway and Penn Avenue in North Minneapolis. Formerly the Delisi’s Building, the new building will be home to KMOJ-FM radio, and many other commercial ventures that plan to locate their businesses there. In addition to leased space, the development includes rehabilitation of the outdoor plaza to create a public gathering area featuring the work of local artists. 5 Points is bringing more much needed, appealing commercial property for business growth in the West Broadway corridor.

The redevelopment of Delisi’s is so important to the North Minneapolis community right now. Shuttered and abandoned for a decade, the building will bring amenities to the neighborhood, construction and permanent jobs, and life back to the corner. It is investments through the City’s Great Streets Program, as well as all of the partners who came together to make this project a reality, that are making neighborhood business districts great.

Construction on the new development will be complete by spring 2010. A goal for the renovation effort is to award more than 40% of the construction projects to local and minority contractors. The Ackerberg Group is project developer with Norman Construction acting as General Contractor.

Launched in 2007, the Great Streets Neighborhood Business District program is a coordinated effort to help businesses develop and succeed along commercial corridors and at commercial nodes throughout Minneapolis. City resources are available for business loans, real estate development financing, and business district assistance such as façade improvement, market studies and retail recruitment efforts.

Catalyst Community Partners is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization focused on revitalizing key commercial corridors in underperforming urban neighborhoods by developing real estate and sustainable businesses to meet community needs and provide neighborhood jobs.

Catalyst, in conjunction with The Ackerberg Group, has redeveloped commercial properties, a park, a playground, a church, and built two market-rate residential homes in North Minneapolis over the past five years. Catalyst has worked with partners to bring a coffee shop, a community credit union, a non-profit social services training program and a childcare center to West Broadway Avenue. To date, more than 100 local jobs have been added to the neighborhood.

MN jobless need more time, more help

Everyone knows that we are living in tough economic times.  People from all walks of life are having to cope with unemployment and the realities of the recession.  Unfortunately, thousands of people in Minnesota are facing additional worry and pressure as their unemployment benefits and health insurance start to run out.  Unless action is taken soon, thousands of hardworking Minnesotans, people just trying to find a job and make a living, will lose unemployment benefits by the end of the year. What will happen to them and their familes then is scary to consider.

That’s why yesterday I visited a workforce center in south Minneapolis to draw attention to the issue and the struggles that many people seeking jobs face. A bill that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives aims to extend unemployment benefits by an additional thirteen weeks, but only for states with unemployment above 8.5 percent.  Minneapolis and Minnesota have unemployment rates below the national average, less than eight percent, and would not qualify under this bill.  

Thankfully however, Senators Klobuchar and Franken are working to change this and extend benefits to all states.  I appreciate their work because the loss of these jobless benefits would simply create more economic hardship for people who are trying to get back to work.  It is absolutely imperative that we extend unemployment benefits for people who are still trying to get back on their feet. 

At the workforce center I visited yesterday, 24,000 people have been helped to find jobs in the past six months.  The number of employment workshops being held has increased more than 75 percent.  The need for help is clearly there.  Our economy is on the rebound, but turning things around will take time and people need some kind of a safety net until the economy fully recovers.

For more news about this challenge, click here.

Downtown Minneapolis is back and open for business

Planting one of 179 new trees on Marquette and Second avenues.

Planting one of 179 new trees on Marquette and Second Aves.

If you’ve noticed, lately, Minneapolis has been undergoing some pretty major transformation.   We are in the midst of several projects that will radically reshape downtown and today I was excited to mark a major milestone as construction on Marquette and 2nd Avenues nears completion.   As it wraps up, construction-related hassles are disappearing and transportation downtown will soon be better than ever.  New streets, wider sidewalks, more trees, and faster busses as the results.

Marquette and 2nd Avenues have been re-built as transit-ways that will serve as major arteries, allowing people to come into downtown and get around more quickly and efficiently.  When buses return in the next few months, they will have two lanes, allowing them to pass each other, ensuring that they stay on schedule and get to their destinations faster.  New bus shelters will have real-time schedule displays, allowing commuters to see exactly when their bus will arrive.  Sidewalks have also been widened and almost 180 new trees have been planted, making downtown greener and more attractive.

These improvements on Marquette & 2nd will also allow us next year to remove many buses from Nicollet mall, leaving only hybrids.  It will be  a cleaner, quieter and more pedestrian-friendly area.  Soon, Northstar Commuter Rail will open up and connect with the Hiawatha line at Target field, creating a new transportation interchange.  And just days ago, Hennepin and 1st avenues reopened as two-way streets, something they haven’t been in nearly 30 years.

This is all part of our Access Minneapolis transportation plan which will significantly improve and change transportation in our city.   This plan takes into account all forms of transit including driving, biking, walking, and public transportation.   Thanks to federal funding, we’re ahead of schedule on the plan and are seeing improvements sooner than we thought we would even two years ago.

Downtown Minneapolis is resurging.  Businesses are ready to welcome you back to a cleaner, greener, and easy to navigate area.  Downtown is back!

Pres. Obama nominates Mpls. Officer as US Marshal

Congratulations to Minneapolis Assistant Police Chief Sharon Lubinski for being nominated this week by President Obama to be a U.S. marshal.  Thanks to Senator Amy Klobuchar for recommending Lubinski’s nomination.

I am incredibly happy for Assistant Chief Lubinski, this nomination is entirely deserved, and I think that President Obama made the right choice. In her years of service to the City of Minneapolis, Sharon has been a shining example of what a Minneapolis officer should be. She has not only been an excellent leader within the city and our community, but is also one of the most empathetic and caring police officers I have ever met.

Lubinski has served with the Minneapolis police department for 20 years and has been involved in law enforcement for nearly three decades. The nomination is notable in that her appointment would make her the first openly gay person in history to serve as a U.S. marshal. She would also be one of only two active female marshals in the entire country. Lubinski’s nomination is historic, but then again, Sharon is used to making history. I have no doubt in my mind that her courage, tenacity, and empathy will make her a terrific U.S. marshal.

Ellison secures $750,000 for new Minneapolis emergency center

Yesterday, Congressman Keith Ellison continued to demonstrate that he rightfully deserves his reputation for being a strong advocate for the residents of Minneapolis. In a bill approved by the House, Congressman Ellison secured a $750,000 appropriation for the City of Minneapolis to build a new and much needed Emergency Operations Center.

I would personally like to thank Representative Ellison. Two years ago I witnessed the brave, courageous actions that our first responders took when the 35W bridge collapsed. I saw just how their rapid, well organized response saved countless lives and prevented a terrible tragedy from being much worse. The appropriation Minneapolis will receive thanks to Congressman Ellison will go to build a new state of the art Emergency Operations Center that will provide the necessary space and technologies to help us stay prepared and effectively manage any future emergencies that come our way.

We need to give our first responders every possible tool so that they can successfully do their job. They are out there every single day risking their lives in order to save and protect the lives of others. Congressman Ellison recognizes this and I thank him for it. I hope you will too.