Insight News

Feb 12th

Creating equity, reflecting our heritage

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In August of 1998, Glennwood-Lyndale and Sumner Olson public housing residents began to move from the historic housing “projects” so the housing units could be demolished. In August of 1998, Glennwood-Lyndale and Sumner Olson public housing residents began to move from the historic housing “projects” so the housing units could be demolished.

Eliminating the projects was as historic and controversial as creating them in 1937. The housing complex was created in the late 1930s as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s massive public works initiative intended to us public tax revenue to re-ignite the nation’s economy, which, like the entire world, suffered in the throes of the Great Depression.

The Glenwood-Lyndale and Sumner-Olson public housing communities, straddling Olson Highway between Fremont and Lyndale Avenues, created needed relief and improvement from what was described as the worst slum area in the city of Minneapolis.

Six decades later, federal courts found that the public housing policy resulting in the concentration of poor people and minority people, to the disadvantage of those housed there, and order the city and Metropolitan Council to make corrections.

Now four years after demolition began the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority is inviting the 374 families that once resided in the projects to return. But this time not in a concentration of poverty, but in a market rate, mixed income planned community called Heritage Park.

And the first family to return to the community is in fact a family that was displaced by the court ordered demolition. This family benefited from extensive outreach efforts of Minneapolis Public Housing Agency (MPHA) to provide priority for families that want to return to the new community.

City and business leaders November 13 gathered at a Northside MPHA office to celebrate the opening for lease of the first homes.

Archie Givens, president, Legacy Development, whose company is developing the complex in a joint venture with McCormack Barron, of St. Louis said, “At last we’re here, 10 years later, welcoming residents back.”

Givens referred to the NAACP 1992 lawsuit that initiated the process that resulted in the court order to demolish the projects and rework public housing strategy.

Givens’ participation in the development, along with that of his brother-in-law, Richard Copeland, president of Thor Construction, came as a result of specific participation goals for minority-owned firms. Community residents and public officials said they insisted that high numerical goals be set for minority businesses to participate in the demolition of the site, as well as in the construction and development of the new community.

Mayor R.T, Rybak acknowledged both the importance of creating housing and having community based businesses participate in creating the new developments.

“Part of the success of this project is that it is serving the people. Heritage Park will be a challenge to us as we maintain a long legacy of generations that’ve been part of the land we are building on. We are responding to the needs of the neighborhood and the community and filling needs of the city.

“We are meeting the challenges of history. The large social goal is to build community in addition to a housing,” said Rybak

“This is an important milestone,” said Fifth Ward Council Member Natalie Johnson-Lee. “There was a lot of hard work that went into this project. Most important is the wealth created and the quality of life changes that will come from this project. This is a project that entire community gets to be a part of.”

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