City of Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT),
the North Side is beginning to feel like home.
Over the years, the organization, which provides affordable homeownership opportunities, had been looking to expand beyond its 400-square-foot space at the similarly housing-focused PRG, Inc
. in South Minneapolis, according to Jeff Washburne, who leads CLCLT.
From the outset, the trust sought a North Side presence “based on recent historical challenges that have confronted North Minneapolis, and ability to locate close as possible to the majority of the population identified within the CLCLT mission,” according to trust materials.
The Minnesota Nonprofits Assistance Fund
offered a vacant, boarded-up two-story building on Glenwood Avenue, which the trust jumped at. In the past, the building had housed a barber shop, a travel agency, and social services and apartment units, he says.
The organization acquired the 2,000-square-foot building in August 2010. It moved in earlier this summer. “We felt it was a great fit, a good location, and a good neighborhood,” he says, adding that work is still ongoing in the building.
Washburne sees it as an up-and-coming area. “It’s one of those corridors a lot of people don’t know about but if you drive down it you can see the potential of it,” he says, adding that International Market Square
and a number of design firms are nearby.
To make way for the trust the building was gutted, while the mechanical systems and roof were replaced.
It's unique for a land trust to own a commercial building, according to trust information.
Much of the $300,000 project was done pro bono; the assistance fund and the city chipped in $160,000 combined, while, besides $90,000 in capital funding, the trust received $50,000 in pro bono commitments, according to trust materials.
Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.,
a local architecture firm, donated services to rehab and build out the building. Oppenheimer, Wolff, and Donnelly
provided legal services, while the Andersen Corporation Foundation
donated windows and the Valspar Foundation
gave paint, according to the trust.
Plant donations are still needed for the landscaping.
Today, the building includes a number of offices and conference rooms and a community meeting space, along with a kitchen. In the future, another small nonprofit organization could rent space in the building, he says.
Already the trust has partnered with the Harrison neighborhood on several initiatives. “By locating there, it creates opportunities to connect with people and let people know we want to invest in the community,” Washburne says.
The trust is in a good position to the plant the seed of homeownership in an area where this can be a challenge. “We’re a resource for residents to buy homes here and across the city,” he says. “It’ll spur more opportunities locally than there otherwise would be.”
Source: Jeff Washburne, Executive Director, City of Lakes Community Land Trust
Writer: Anna Pratt