PB-HHH Meeting Credit: Christina Beck

In January 2022, R.E.A.C.H. Twin Cities hosted a workshop series entitled History, Hurdles, and Hope in partnership with The American Institute of Architects Minnesota, the Center for Sustainable Building Research, and the Center for Transformative Urban Design, a nonprofit founded by urbanist and community leader Paul Bauknight.

This series, attended virtually by over twenty local community stakeholders, represents the first phase in an effort to create a shared understanding and a multi-sector change agenda centered on equitable development.

Acknowledging that development has a long history of inequity, the group identified structural disparities as the largest hurdle to scale toward advancing equitable development. In combination with unequal distribution of power and resources and pervasive belief systems, these hurdles present significant obstacles to dismantling a foundation built on unjust and unfair ground. The current standard is seen as settling for satisfactory or adequate results versus optimizing benefits in development for what the community needs.

Participants find hope in the redistribution of wealth, establishing reparations for BIPOC communities, investing in youth, and programs doing great work (Center for Performing Arts, Seward Redesign, Pillsbury United Communities, and others were lifted up examples).

What’s Next? There is a sense that we have everything we need right here to make change. The History, Hurdles and Hope planning team has been meeting to crystalize, process and frame the insights shared with the intent to advance a multi-sector change agenda with a focus on the best of what’s possible in the built environment. This will be spread through community meetings and the leveraging of a variety of media aimed at instigating engagement.

One of REACH’s coalition partners, the non-profit community design firm Redesign, Inc. was recently awarded $750,000 to support the renovation of the Coliseum Building’s 85,000 square feet into affordable and market-rate commercial space for 25-30 entrepreneurs who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color. REACH has been reporting on the development of this site since it began in 2021. Phase One, completed in Summer 2022, features visual art and poetry by local artists enwrapping the building’s exterior. The Coliseum will serve as a retail and commercial hub for the East Lake Street community and catalyze future adjacent development.

The Coliseum Building. Photo used with permission from : Taylor Smrikárova | Director, Property Development

Not far from The Coliseum Bldg. at 2800 E. Lake Street lies the former US Bank branch damaged in 2020 that has been donated to Redesign. The community’s desire to prioritize equity in the rebuilding of Lake Street following the civil unrest of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd is shared by Redesign. Redesign and 4RM + ULA (architectural design) will be partnering with Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio and National Native Boarding School Healing Coalition to ensure that the development of this site includes input from as many constituents as possible.

Camden State Bank Building. Photo Credit: City of Minneapolis

Meanwhile on the Northside of Minneapolis, the Northside Epicenter’s first phase will encompass 20,000 square feet in what was formerly the Camden State Bank. Developed by Anissa Keyes to help build generational wealth for black members of the community, it will include fifteen businesses total. Anissa works with NEO and NDC to vet prospective tenants. What was once a ballroom will be transformed into a members-only shared workspace.

This small business ecosystem serving black owners grew out of a need for Arubah, Anissa’s healthcare business, to grow. Black-woman owned and dedicated to racial justice and liberation for all, Arubah provides mental and emotional health services. Anissa’s motto? “Strive to have the will and courage to match your commitments.”

Follow REACH Twin Cities for regular updates on these projects and others that are actively moving the needle toward equitable development in the Twin Cities.