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Seward : Development News

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Red Lake Band Plans Mixed-Use Affordable Housing Project

The American Indian Cultural Corridor in Minneapolis, home to the largest population of urban American Indian people in Minnesota, continues its ongoing redevelopment into an area of cultural pride and community cohesion with a new proposed mixed-used housing development. The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians recently purchased a 37,367-square-foot parcel on Cedar Avenue, formerly occupied by Amble Hardware. The project will be called Mino-bimaadiziwin, Ojibwe for “living the good life.”
The site is “in the heart of the American Indian community” and located adjacent to a Blue Line light-rail station, explains Sam Strong of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. Plans include demolishing the existing, blighted structures, and developing the site into a mixed-use property with approximately 115 units of affordable rental housing. The project would also include a healthcare clinic and a variety of social service programs for tribal members, and the Red Lake Band’s Minneapolis Embassy.
The Minneapolis-based Cuningham Group is the designing the project. “While nothing has been finalized on the design side, we are interested in making this a sustainable green project and are looking into our options,” says Strong.
About 2,100 Red Lake Band members plus their descendants live in the Twin Cities area. “We are excited to build a strong, healthy affordable housing community for Native Americans in this culturally significant area that will not only benefit our own tribal members, but also the entire Minneapolis community and Seward neighborhood,” said Darrell G. Seki, Sr., Chair of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, in a prepared statement.
The Red Lake Band has long been a leader among Indian Tribes and has been at the forefront of numerous initiatives in Indian Country. Mino-bimaadiziwin, a new urban mixed-use project “is important as an investment in our community,” Strong says, “and will help meet the ongoing housing, health and other service needs of our people.”

Minneapolis' C-TAP: Free Assistance for Co-Op Founders

The City of Minneapolis is launching a free technical assistance program for budding co-op founders, starting with a two-hour presentation on April 20th.
Dubbed C-TAP (Cooperative Technical Assistance Program), the initiative is an outgrowth of the city’s successful B-TAP (Business Technical Assistance Program) for aspiring small and midsize business owners. Like B-TAP, C-TAP is an immersive program designed to support co-op founders and supporters from ideation through opening—and, in some cases, beyond.
According to the City of Minneapolis, C-TAP will unfold over three years, in three steps.
Step one, happening this year, focuses on “co-op readiness planning” for “groups that are thinking of forming a Co-op…to get a clear picture of the legal, operational and organizational requirements.” It’s basically a crash course in what it means to start a co-op.
Step two, set for next year, will focus on “board member and organizational design.” That means training prospective board members in the basics (and nuances) of co-op governance, as well as “one-on-one technical assistance” for select co-ops that require guidance designing their organizational structures. Step two is available to not-yet-open co-ops and existing co-ops that want or need outside assistance.
Step three, set for 2018, will revolve around “sustainability [and] profitability.” In other words, setting and keeping newly opened co-ops on the path to stable, long-term profitability and prosperity.
C-TAP’s kickoff event, a two-hour presentation dubbed “The State of Co-ops in Minneapolis,” is scheduled for April 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Open Book in Downtown East. The presentation will discuss the city’s current “co-op inventory” and the industries supported by Minneapolis co-ops, introduce and explain C-TAP, and discuss next steps for co-op founders and principals interested in participating.
On May 11, Step one officially gets underway with an eight-week “co-op feasibility” course. Held at the City of Minneapolis Innovation Center in the Crown Roller Mill Building near City Hall, the course’s eight sessions will cover the basics of the co-op development process, co-op business plans, finances, cooperative governance, legalities and other topics. Registration is free and open to the public, but prospective co-op groups need to have at least two participants and have selected a product or service to offer prior to signing up.
The City of Minneapolis is no stranger to co-op support. According to city government, Minneapolis has plowed some $3.5 million into local co-ops through existing development and support initiatives, and has an additional $850,000 outstanding in loans to three in-development co-ops—including Wirth Cooperative Grocery, a first-of-its-kind grocery co-op in the city’s underserved Northside, slated to open later this year.

Architect innovates design service for accessory dwellings

They’re known as granny flats, mother-in-law apartments, even Fonzie suites for those who remember the Fonz’s digs above the Cunninghams' garage in the tv show “Happy Days.” For years, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have been popular throughout the U.S. for homeowners needing an additional, separate living space for a relative (or family friend) adjacent to main house—and as a flexible housing option in developed urban neighborhoods.
Now ADUs are legal in Minneapolis. On December 5, 2014, the Minneapolis City Council passed a zoning code text amendment allowing ADUs on lots with single or two-family homes. Shortly thereafter, architect Christopher Strom, who spent countless hours working with zoning administrators during discussions about the code change, launched his new initiative, Second Suite.
“I wanted to be the first to market my expertise with the zoning related to these small residential dwellings,” says Strom, who has a thriving business as a residential architect in Minneapolis, and has designed ADU-type cottages for clients in the suburbs and northern Minnesota.
He learned during informational meetings that “a lot of people didn’t want ADUs because they fear too many people would be added to the neighborhood, resulting in extra noise and traffic,” Strom says. “But the new law limits ADUs to a total of 1,000 square feet, including parking; they’re only feasible on certain lots, depending on the positioning of the primary house; and the primary house must be owner occupied. Only one accessory building is allowed per property, so most people will combine an ADU with a detached garage.”
As a result, Strom continues, “The majority of the new ADUs to be built in Minneapolis will be Fonzie suites. Remember how he lived above the Cunninhgams' garage? He had a cool bachelor pad totally separate from the main house, but was always at the Cunninghams'.”
ADUs are a viable option for creating more space, whether for additional storage, an art studio, home office or apartment for aging parents. With the new zoning, the units can also include a small kitchen and/or bath. “They’re wonderful for seniors, and a nice way to establish multi-generational living next to the primary house while giving the occupant an integral level of independence,” Strom explains.
St. Paul, particularly the neighborhood of St. Anthony Park, is currently looking at its building codes, as well, by studying the feasibility of allowing ADUs on single-family lots.  
Strom adds that ADUs are “a great entry point for people to start working with an architect.” A well-considered design might result in an ADU that blends in with the architectural style of the existing residence, or be entirely different.
Moreover, Strom adds, “Second Suite represents a lifestyle that I want to be able to deliver to my clients. This lifestyle is about families pooling resources and enjoying more quality time together through care-giving that enables grandparents to help with childcare and adult children to help with aging parents.”

Sioux Chef brings indigenous cuisine to Minneapolis

Minneapolis-based chef and Oglala Lakota member Sean Sherman is about to open the Sioux Chef, a first-of-its-kind restaurant that will serve locally sourced “pre-colonization” cuisine. Sherman is in the final stages of selecting a space, most likely along Seward’s Franklin Avenue or along East Lake Street. He wants to be “as close as possible to the heart of the Twin Cities’ indigenous community,” he says.
Depending on the condition of the space, the Sioux Chef’s doors could be open as early as December, but the first quarter of 2015 is more likely. When the restaurant opens, Sioux Chef will be the first in the country to serve a menu comprised exclusively of regional indigenous dishes that only use ingredients available prior to first contact with European settlers.
Sherman’s approached means no wheat, soy or other staples we currently take for granted. In addition to bison, elk, duck, perch and other fish and game species—often dried or cooked over an open flame—Sherman will incorporate such native plants as wild rice, wild turnips, chokecherries and sumac berries.
His flavors and technique are pitch-perfect. Though indigenous populations were decimated during the 19th and 20th centuries, there remains a strong cultural memory among older Lakota, Ojibwe and others. “People constantly tell me that my dishes taste like what their grandparents made,” he says.
One concession to modern realities: The Sioux Chef won’t serve wild-caught game, says Sherman, due to a lack of available processing facilities capable of satisfying health authorities. The restaurant’s bison and elk, among other species, will come from nearby ranches.
Nor will Sherman be dogmatic in his approach. “First contact” is a blurrier concept than many realize, he says. For example, dandelions probably arrived on the Eastern Seaboard with the first wave of white explorers and spread across the continent within 50 years, far faster than the Europeans who brought them. So Native Americans may have cooked with them long before setting eyes on the first settler—and that’s good enough for Sherman.
The Sioux Chef concept arose accidentally, when Sherman—then La Bodega’s executive chef—decided to write a traditional Lakota cookbook. After some digging, he realized there was very little recorded information about what the Lakota ate before Europeans arrived. Most of the recipes he found were from the Southwest. Even those “were basically Tex-Mex with some Native influence,” he says. Supposedly authentic foods from the Upper Midwest, like fry bread, only appeared after the introduction of white flour and other European staples.
Traveling extensively across Minnesota and his native Dakotas, Sherman eventually pieced together an exhaustive list—“too many to count”—of native plants, fungi and game species used by pre-colonial populations. He also researched traditional preparation and preservation techniques, like meat dehydration.
Until the restaurant opens this winter, the Sioux Chef is a mobile catering and education unit. Sherman travels to food-, health- and Native American-themed events throughout the Twin Cities and the greater Midwest, serving locally sourced dishes (some of which may appear on the Sioux Chef’s restaurant menu) and explaining his approach to pre-colonization cooking. Recent appearances include a diabetes conference and traditional medicine gathering
So far, Sherman says, support for the Sioux Chef is beyond what he expected. He was in Ohio last weekend for Roots 2014, a major gathering of celebrity chefs and nutrition experts, and “a huge deal for the Sioux Chef’s exposure,” he says.
Public enthusiasm may lead to bigger things for the Sioux Chef. “After I get the restaurant going, my ultimate goal is to hone this business model and expand with additional locations under different names,” he says. Since naturally available ingredients vary so much from place to place—“even from here to the other side of Wisconsin, the availability is totally different,” he says—the food at pre-colonization restaurants would vary widely from city to city.
“It’s funny that you can get food from almost anywhere in the world [in the Twin Cities],” he adds. “The only food you can’t get yet is the food that came from right here.” Sioux Chef will change that.

The Hub opens fourth location at Spokes in Seward neighborhood

The Hub bike cooperative opened its fourth location on April 26, alongside Spokes, an organization that offers an open bike shop and community classes.

Spokes opened in Minneapolis's Seward neighborhood last fall. The two bike businesses are in a building that previously housed an Islamic cultural center and a machine shop, according to Sheldon Mains, who works with Spokes.

“Having both facilities together helps bring together everything someone needs to start biking,” he says.

This collaboration came together thanks to the work of a handful of partners, including Cycles for Change, The Hub, Seward Neighborhood Group and Seward ReDesign, which all worked together to make the place a reality.

At this location, The Hub is selling used bikes, bike parts and accessories, he says.

However, The Hub won’t be repairing bikes. That’s because Spokes helps people to do that themselves, Mains explains. “What we do is shoulder-to-shoulder training,” he says. “Mechanics help and walk people through the process, even if they’ve never done it before.”

Between the open workshop and the retail side, “It’s a great symbiotic relationship,” he says.

This summer, the place hopes to offer a kind of lending library, where people can “check out” a bike for a defined period. That might appeal to people who aren’t ready to buy a bike yet, he says.

The idea is to get more people biking and walking, especially the local immigrant community. Spokes has already hosted a number of successful biking classes, including one that focused on navigating busy streets. “We’re using any ideas that we can come up with to get people more active,” and to use biking as a mode of transportation and for exercise and recreational purposes, he says.

Source: Sheldon Mains, Spokes
Writer: Anna Pratt

SPOKES bike walk center in the works for Seward

SPOKES, a new bike and walk center in Minneapolis’s Seward neighborhood, is preparing for its Aug. 22 grand opening.

The center, whose acronym stands for Seward People Operated Kinetic Energy, is housed in a 2,400-square-foot warehouse space on the former Bystrom Brothers machine shop site. This is also where property owner Seward Redesign, which is a community development corporation, is planning the Seward Commons housing complex. (See The Line story here.)

Last week, volunteers helped paint and set up workbenches and storage areas inside the shop, according to center director Sheldon Mains. Bike racks will soon be installed outside, he says.

The Seward Neighborhood Group is behind the center, which has been in the works for a couple of years.

Startup funds came from Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federal nonmotorized transportation pilot program administered by Transit for Livable Communities through the Federal Highway Administration, he explains. This funding is facilitated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the city of Minneapolis, he adds. 

The center is part of a larger neighborhood initiative to “get more people biking and walking,” especially as a regular mode of transportation, Mains says.

Biking is more economical than driving and it’s a good form of exercise. “It can help build social connections, too,” he adds. 

The center will start out by targeting East African immigrants, who form a large community within the neighborhood. This is a response in part to a neighborhood survey that found that “what stopped people from riding was that they didn’t know how to,” he says.

Some people also said they couldn’t afford a bike or equipment, or they didn’t have a place to store it. “We’re trying to address those things,” Mains says.

Some helmets, bikes and Nice Ride bike-sharing memberships have been donated to the center, while the bike racks came from local manufacturer Dero. Seward Coop Market and Deli and Quality Bike Products have made contributions, as well.

The center is still looking for more used bikes to loan to low-income residents, he adds.  

SPOKES will also offer classesfocusing on basic riding skills, traffic rules, and bike mechanics. The shop will also host open work times for women, he says.

Plus, a bike repair station will be accessible 24 hours a day outside. “It’s a unique program,” Mains says.  

Source: Sheldon Mains, director, SPOKES
Writer: Anna Pratt

Boneshaker Books plans $10,000 expansion

In its second year, Boneshaker Books in South Minneapolis is already raising money to enhance its store.

Boneshaker is a volunteer-run radical and progressive bookstore that has a mission to promote books, education, and activism in the Twin Cities, according to Boneshaker information.

It plans to expand its offerings, including adding a children’s section, according to Amanda Luker, who is a spokesperson for the bookstore. The store has the space for it. “With a little money, we could turn it into a kids’ nook, with story time,” she says.

Right now, the bookstore has a Kickstarter campaign going to help fund the $10,000 project, for which it’s raised $3,000 by other means.

“The main thing would be shelving and the initial cash flow for inventory, and then getting some comfortable furniture,” she says.

The bookstore also wants to “make the reading room more useful” for all kinds of meetings and events, with audio/visual equipment including a projector, gallery lighting, furniture, and more, she says. “We just want to make it a nice, warm place for events and meetings.” This includes a space for gallery shows along with a “nano-cinema.”

Although the bookstore provides book delivery via bicycle, it doesn’t have a bike rack on hand, so that’s something on the shopping list as well, she says.

With custom-built bookshelves and a handmade display table, along with paper globes hanging from the ceiling and books that are suspended from the window, the space has a unique, creative feel.

“Most people get a good vibe when they come. I have so many people comment on that,” says Luker. It's something that she hopes the project will be able to build on.

Source: Amanda Luker, Boneshaker Books
Writer: Anna Pratt

Collaborating to make Seward Commons a reality

Seward Redesign, a neighborhood nonprofit developer, is taking steps to make "phase two" of its proposed Seward Commons a reality at the industrial four-acre site that was formerly home to the Bystrom Brothers machine shop, between Minnehaha and Cedar avenues south on 22nd Street in Minneapolis.

Seward Commons, which has long been in planning stages, is a sustainable transit-oriented housing development, according to project information. The development process has been divided into a couple of phases that separately deal with housing for the "persistent mentally ill" and seniors.   

"Phase two" specifically relates to 60 units of senior housing in the complex, which Seward Redesign associate director Katya Piling says is in high demand from the area's aging population. "People love the neighborhood and want to stay here," she says.

To make it happen, Seward Redesign is considering the possibility of teaming up with CommonBond Communities, another local nonprofit developer that already has a presence in the neighborhood at the Seward Towers. The possibility will be presented at a Seward Neighborhood Group committee meeting on April 12.  

The details of such a collaboration need to be worked out to meet the requirements of a Housing and Urban Development funding application, for which the deadline is coming up, she says.

For the 40 units of supportive housing, plus administrative offices, dining, and health and wellness facilities that are a part of "phase one," the group's partner is Touchstone Mental Health.

Seward Redesign acquired the land, which has nine buildings on the premises, in June 2009. Since the beginning, the community has been looped into the master-planning effort, which goes back even before then.  

Ultimately, Seward Redesign wants to transform the off-the-beaten-path industrial area into a lively link to the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit (LRT) line. Already the group has taken pains to open up access to pedestrians along a trail near the line, which means people don't have to cross busy, four-lane Cedar Avenue to get to the Franklin Street LRT Station.

In the future, Seward Redesign hopes to create a well-lit path that "provides a more direct, flat way to reach the station," Piling says.  

The group has put a lot of thought into environmental issues. On the site, Seward Redesign plans to implement cutting-edge stormwater-management practices. Already, the existing parking lot has become an urban farm, which could be expanded to the development's rooftop. "We want to integrate agriculture into the development in the long-term," she says.   

Source: Katya Pilling, Associate Director, Seward Redesign     
Writer: Anna Pratt

For Birchwood Cafe, branching out means watering roots too

The Birchwood Cafe occupies a special place in the Twin Cities--and not only because it's perfectly poised, five blocks off the Mississippi River and five blocks from each of two major south Minneapolis thoroughfares: East Lake Street and East Franklin Avenue.

The Birchwood is also the consummate neighborhood cafe in a neighborhood that, to many inside and out, is the consummate Twin Cities community: Seward.

That special perch complicates Birchwood owner Tracy Singleton's desire to expand what has become a landmark for locavores and lovers of its environmental vibe and "good real food."

The building began life in the 1920s as a dairy, becoming a neighborhood store in the 1940s that lasted until Singleton made it a cafe in 1996--with the Birchwood name a constant. Business, however, has not stayed still, and Singleton's excitement and anguish over expansion options have played out publicly in venues such as the cafe's monthly newsletter and a neighborhood blog.

A bid for a commercial building across the street to house the cafe's catering arm was aborted in the face of concern for existing tenant businesses (though Singleton promised to preserve several). Now Singleton is again contemplating an alternative that would be a blow to the personal roots she has laid in Seward: sacrificing her own home next door to the cafe.

"Last month I said that we were going to expand the Birchwood without using my neighboring house on the corner," Singleton writes in her latest newsletter. "Now it looks like we cannot achieve the breathing space we need without considering this option in the mix."

Source: Tracy Singleton
Writer: Chris Steller

With Nice Ride, bike-sharing in the Twin Cities goes from zero to 700 overnight

The Twin Cities' stock of publicly shared bicycles goes up on June 10 from zero to 700. That's the number of bikes on the streets for the launch of Nice Ride Minnesota, a new bike-share system that's already an overnight sensation: It instantly becomes the nation's largest.

The Nice Ride bikes are available for rent from 75 kiosks around Minneapolis. A future phase will see that number grow further as the program expands into St. Paul.

The goal, says Nice Ride Minnesota executive director Bill Dossett, is simple: "To make it easy for more people to use a bike during the day."

The Nice Ride organization has been preparing for the big day with twin efforts, both massive. Programming and construction of rental kiosks was underway at Sieco Construction in the Seward neighborhood, while assembly of Nice Ride's fleet of bikes took place at Freewheel Bike, which has locations on the West Bank and along the Midtown Greenway.

Bike stations are in the city's busiest, densest places, from Uptown to Dinkytown--not, Dossett, says, in areas dominated by single-family homes.

Asked to name a sign that the program is a success (a little old lady on a Nice Ride bike, perhaps?), Dossett demurs. "It's one small piece of something that is a lot bigger than us," he says. "It's already going on." People are changing the way they move around the Twin Cities, says Dossett, and using a bike-share system is simply a part of that.

Source: Bill Dossett, Nice Ride Minnesota
Writer: Chris Steller

MPRís Public Insight Network aims to map murals

Sanden Totten looks at the Twin Cities from his home in Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood and his workplace in downtown St. Paul and sees infrastructure needs. Not the usual infrastructure tasks like filling last winter's crop of potholes or repairing bridges.

Totten is seeking ways to connect people with the cities' sizable inventory of murals, using technology and public input. He envisions something like bike routes criss-crossing the urban landscape that take riders from one mural to the next, via "place casting"--place-based podcasts that tell the stories behind the Cities' painted walls.  

Totten, a producer at Minnesota Public Radio's Public Insight Network, is bringing that organization's resources to bear on the challenge of mapping urban murals, first in Minneapolis, with St. Paul in the wings. He is currently soliciting ideas and mural recommendations at MPR's website and says the project will launch in July. The form it takes is still up in the air and will be determined in part by the contributions from the public.

The urge to map local murals isn't completely new or limited to Totten. Several years ago Kevin D. Hendricks set up a searchable catalog of nearly 150 Twin Cities murals, among other forms of public art, at his Start Seeing Art website. And Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff has taken to posting on Facebook photos of delightful garage-door murals he encounters on his morning graffiti patrols of alleys in his South Minneapolis ward.

Source: Sanden Totten, Public Insight Network, Minnesota Public Radio
Writer: Chris Steller

11 Seward Articles | Page:
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