Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Janice Bitters
Finance and Commerce 

Red Lake Band plans rentals near Blue Line


Amble Machinery and Hardware closed earlier this year. The property will be redeveloped by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, which aims to add affordable housing and services for its band members, including a clinic and an embassy. Planners are still in the early stages, finalizing the designs and financing for the project. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians is planning a mixed-use redevelopment of a 37,367-square-foot lot in Minneapolis' Seward neighborhood, a mere 200 feet from the Blue Line light rail transit Franklin Avenue Station.

The lot at 2109 Cedar Ave. sold for $1.73 million, or roughly $46.30 per square-foot, according to an announcement by the band Aug. 15. A certificate of real estate value was not available Monday. The site was formerly home to Amble Machinery and Hardware, which closed earlier this year.

But Sam Strong, the band's director of economic development, said he's been considering the lot for years because of its location along the American Indian Cultural Corridor, a stretch of land that roughly follows Franklin Avenue between Cedar and 10th avenues south.

The project will serve as the new "gateway" to the cultural corridor.

"It's a perfect fit," Strong said. "The highest concentrations of our members are surrounding the site ... and just a lot of the community lives in the area."

Red Lake Band planners are firming up designs for a six-story building with 115 affordable apartments above commercial space. The ground level will have services like a health care clinic, a new embassy for the Red Lake Band's members and other social services.

About 2,100 Red Lake Band members and their families live in the Twin Cities metro area, and a large percentage of those who use the band's current embassy use transit, Strong said.

Several neighborhood groups have worked to increase the amount of property owned by Native Americans in the area for years in order to form the cultural corridor.

The effort has helped create a sense of place for the Native American community, said Robert Lilligren president and CEO at the Native American Community Development Institute, which is based in the neighborhood.

He said Native American ownership in the corridor today is "significant."

"That's what gives momentum and traction to a cultural corridor," Lilligren said. "The land is already under Native control."

Though the development is in its early planning stages, Strong said he hopes to create an eco-friendly building with outdoor community gardens to help welcome visitors to the corridor. Minneapolis-based Cunningham Group is the architect behind the project.

Strong isn't sure what income level the development will cater to, but said a study the group commissioned from Golden Valley-based Maxfield Research showed that affordable units would do well in the neighborhood.

The Red Lake Band is also working with St. Paul-based CommonBond Communities to nail down the affordable housing component of the development, Strong said.

Lillegren said that the need for affordable housing is strong in the neighborhood, where families will "double or triple up" in homes to avoid homelessness.

"There's a large population that needs housing in there that we can't even identify," he said. "People who may not be sleeping under a bridge, but they're not really fully housed."

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians purchased the more than 37,000-square-foot lot at 2109 Cedar Ave. in Minneapolis for $1.73 million, the group announced last week. Construction will start in 2018 on a six-story building with 115 affordable housing units, a clinic and other services. (Submitted Rendering: Cunningham Group)

The existing buildings on the lot have been targeted for redevelopment by neighbors for years, according to Ashley Freitag, co-president of the Seward Neighborhood Group.

"We are excited ... and support the efforts of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians," she said in a statement.

Planners are currently finalizing financing for the redevelopment, with construction scheduled to start in 2018.

The project is called Mino-bimaadiziwin, which means "living the good life" in Ojibwe.

"We want to help everyone live a better life, and I think that's a really important aspect as we create more programming," Strong said.


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