East Phillips Roof Depot redevelopment gets green light and funding, a win for community organizing

Vision for the East Phillips Roof Depot redevelopment.

In the waning hours of the state legislature, an agreement was cut between the state, the City of Minneapolis, and the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) that enables EPNI to buy the old Roof Depot warehouse and redevelop it into a community amenity.

The redevelopment will include affordable housing, an indoor urban farm, space for local businesses, job training facilities, services for unhoused people, a large solar array, and more. It will be a community-owned asset.

The neighborhood wanted to acquire the Roof Depot site years ago, but the City of Minneapolis bought it with plans to relocate its Water Works facility there.

The legislative deal provides the city with money to recoup its expenses and move the Water Works yard elsewhere.

The deal hinges on EPNI raising $3.7 million in private funds by Sept. 7.

Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis), who represents the East Phillips neighborhood, said in a media release she was pleased the state and city partnered to find a solution.

“With a third of East Phillips residents living below the poverty line, the community is in great need of affordable housing, investment in jobs and infrastructure, and sustainable development. While this project will be a long road, I’m thankful we were able to make progress on this investment in our community. I am confident the vision for the Roof Depot will one day become a reality.”

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One church’s journey towards making reparations, Part 1

Our Saviour’s Lutheran started by building it into its annual budget

Chant practice at Our Saviour’s before the Palm Sunday service.

Palm Sunday at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 2315 Chicago Ave. in Minneapolis, began with a gathering just outside the sanctuary. Parishioners, fronds in hand, practiced chants, such as: “The lowly will be lifted up, the hungry will be fed!”

After the service, church members drove to the East Phillips neighborhood to stand in solidarity with residents who are in a long-standing dispute with the city over the redevelopment of what is known as the Roof Depot site and its empty warehouse. The neighborhood’s vision is community friendly; the city’s vision would add more pollution to an already polluted area.

The prayer vigil and protest was part of Our Saviour’s ‘s evolving understanding of what it means to dismantle White Supremacy and make reparations with the African American and Native American communities who have suffered the physical, emotional, and financial abuses of colonialism and neocolonialism for centuries.

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Strib editorial board offers paternalistic commentary on Roof Depot’s future

Also check out Nicole Perez’s Op/Ed in the Star Tribune: Native people won’t be silenced.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board embarrassed itself with its Friday editorial backing the city of Minneapolis’ plan to demolish the Roof Depot warehouse in East Phillips and expand its public works yard onto the site.

Let’s start with the headline: “Move ahead on Roof Depot site: Minneapolis has taken the necessary steps to ensure it will be safe and beneficial for the community.”

Just to be clear, the editorial board is saying that the city — not the neighborhood residents — gets to decide what is “safe and beneficial” for the community.

And how did the editorial board arrive at such a conclusion? It met with Mayor Jacob Frey and Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher, then wrote its column. Funny thing, they don’t seem to have talked to the residents.

They sat at their desks and wrote a one-sided story.

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Roof Depot update: Police injure one in response to the Occupation, a court win, and more

Correction: An earlier version of this blog include a photo which was misidentified as Rachel Thunder. The photo has been removed.

Rachel Thunder was a key leader of the Roof Depot Occupation that began early Tuesday morning. By early evening people started texting her, saying: “They’re coming!”

“They” was a large contingent of officers from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). It was an overwhelming response compared to the actual threat.

“There were no guns, alcohol, drugs, or dogs,” Thunder said. “Everyone was an Indigenous community member or ally. We didn’t have any unsheltered relatives there.”

The city “militarized against a peaceful, prayerful, ceremonial space,” she said.

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Minneapolis cops bust up Roof Depot Occupation

Police evicted those occupying the Roof Depot site in protest over city plans.

When residents from a low-income BIPOC community take the initiative to improve their community and children’s health, what do you do?

In Minneapolis, you push them to the limit then arrest them.

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The backstory on why Minneapolis is hell bent to expand its Public Works yard in East Phillips in violation of its racial equity commitments

Residents disrupt the Minneapolis City Council Thursday for moving ahead with a plan they say will harm East Phillips residents’ health.

Minneapolis city leaders say their controversial plan to expand the Public Works yard in East Phillips has been in the works for years, an effort to upgrade aging facilities and improve efficiencies.

Much less discussed is how the Public Works project is part of an interlocking set of city plans to build a new fire station and sell city land for private development.

The city’s plan also violates its commitments to reduce racial disparities, an issue city leaders have failed to address.

The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) strongly opposes the city’s plan, saying it would increase local air pollution and harm residents’ health.

While the city has downplayed resident health concerns, federal health agencies recently released a map ranking East Phillips in the highest tier of its Environmental Justice Index, which identifies “communities most at risk for facing the health impacts of environmental hazards.”

Here is a more complete picture of why the city is breaking its racial equity commitments. It begs the question: Just when does the city plan to start living up to those commitments?

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City of Minneapolis offers self-serving ‘Racial Equity Impact Analysis’ on proposed Public Works project in East Phillips Neighborhood

Backers of the East Phillips Urban Farm development held a press conference at City Hall Tuesday.

The Minneapolis City Council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee will vote Wednesday afternoon on directing staff to move forward with its Public Works expansion plan in the East Phillips neighborhood, one opposed by neighborhood leaders.

The docket includes the city’s “Racial Equity Impact Analysis” for the project, something that assesses how it aligns “with the City’s Southside Green Zone policy, the City’s resolution declaring racism a public health emergency, and the City’s resolution establishing a truth and reconciliation process.”

The city offers a self-serving and weak racial equity analysis, raising questions about the city’s understanding of, and commitment to, racial justice.

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East Phillips Urban Farm plan stays alive, barely

City Council action is as murky as its commitment to racial justice

The Minneapolis City Council was faced challenging truths today as it deliberated on redevelopment of the old Roof Top Depot site at 28th and Hiawatha: addressing historic and ongoing racism costs money, it means changing “business as usual,” and it’s messy.

The Council faced two different proposals: One to use the Roof Top Depot site to expand and consolidate the city’s Water Works facilities, the other to give the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) exclusive rights to develop the property into an urban farm, affordable housing, and neighborhood-friendly businesses.

The fractured Council punted, keeping both options open, likely making no one happy. Significantly, it voted down proposed language to give EPNI exclusive development rights for its Urban Farm proposal.

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Critical vote on East Phillips Urban Farm Wednesday: Will Mpls City Council live up to its promises?

West side of the old Roof Depot building in the East Phillips neighborhood.

The old Roof Depot site near East 28th Street and Hiawatha Avenue in the East Phillips neighborhood covers a city block and its waiting for redevelopment.

Starkly different proposals are on the table: One would consolidate the city of Minneapolis’ Public Works facilities to create greater efficiencies; the other would create an Indoor Urban Farm, with affordable housing and neighborhood friendly-businesses.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fulfill a community-led, community-owned project — an economic investment in an economically depressed area,” said Joe Vital, a volunteer with East Phillips Neighborhood Initiative and Urban Farm supporter.

A key vote on these divergent plans is expected Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis City Council’s Policy and Government Oversight Committee. This committee includes all 13 council members.

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