North Side architects mobilize for 'long haul'

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David Witt, left, and Jamil Ford of Mobilize Design & Architecture.

Photo: Mobilize Design & Architecture,

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Jamil Ford and David Witt, owners of what is believed to be the only commercial architectural business in north Minneapolis, plan a significant role in the area’s long-sought-but-slow-in-coming commercial revitalization.

Their three-year-old Mobilize Design & Architecture on W. Broadway has designed several significant projects over its lifetime. More are in the pipeline.

“I think we’ve made it through the hard times,” said Ford, a North High and University of Minnesota graduate who lives on the North Side. “There are opportunities here. And we need more professionals, more homeowners, more businesses, small and large.”

Ford and Witt, who also lives in north Minneapolis, worked together at two Minneapolis firms before striking out on their own on W. Broadway, the frayed-edge main drag that once was one of Minnesota’s biggest commercial arteries. The neighborhood is ripe for redevelopment, but big plans for Broadway were scuttled by the recession.

A few small developers have focused on one building at a time, and often have had to scramble for commercial tenants in a low-income area hard hit by the residential real estate implosion and related mortgage fraud. Crime also has made economic stability a block-by-block challenge. But, as we learned on rebounding E. Franklin and E. Lake streets in south Minneapolis, commerce and customers trump crime. And that’s the vision up north.

Ford and Witt are planning and designing the retail-residential complex on Penn Avenue N. and Golden Valley Road planned by Devean George, the North Side native and Augsburg College graduate who has returned home from the NBA to start nonprofit and for-profit real estate ventures. And they designed the refurbished Five Points complex at W. Broadway and Penn, the Venture North Bike Shop and several other renovated buildings in the area.

“We’ve put our roots down, and we’re in north Minneapolis for the long haul,” Witt said. “We’ve got projects that will keep us going. We could use more. We put our money where our mouths were … just as the economy went bust for architects in 2010. But we see in north Minneapolis … a renaissance in the early stages. We want to be at the forefront.”

A HOMECOMING AT PERISCOPE

Talk about your Minnesota Nice.

Minneapolis ad agency Periscope is reuniting forces with prodigal daughter Jenifer Anhorn as the agency’s new vice president assigned to promote the Periscope brand with existing and new clients and in the worlds of traditional and social media.

Anhorn was on Periscope’s management team for 16 years until she joined Papa Murphy’s International in 2010 as chief marketing officer for the Vancouver-based take ’n’ bake pizza chain.

Under Anhorn’s watch last year, Periscope was replaced as Papa Murphy’s advertising agency of record after a nearly eight-year run with the takeout chain.

But all is forgiven.

“We’re thrilled to have Jenifer back at Periscope,” said agency CEO Greg Kurowski. “She’s a hands-on collaborative leader.”

“This [was] an easy decision for me,” said Anhorn.

DAVID PHELPS

LITTLE NOT ASLEEP AT THE MATTRESS

After a successful in-store promotion assignment for big mattress maker Sealy Posturepedic, Little & Co. has signed on as the marketing agency of record.

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  • Jamil Ford and David Witt, owners of what is believed to be the only commercial architectural business in north Minneapolis, plan a significant role in the area’s long-sought-but-slow-in-coming commercial revitalization.Their three-year-old Mobilize Design & Architecture on W. Broadway has designed several significant projects over its lifetime. More are in the pipeline.“I think we’ve made it through the hard times,” said Ford, a North High and University of Minnesota graduate who lives on the North Side. “There are opportunities here. And we need more professionals, more homeowners, more businesses, small and large.”Ford and Witt, who also lives in north Minneapolis, worked...

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