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Continued: Twin Cities' new U.S. immigration building lacking bus service

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 10, 2014 - 10:36 AM

No details on the criteria

But the company admits to being frustrated by the lack of information on the bidding process. After losing the contract, they were told only that new regulations required 9-foot ceilings for the lease. The ceilings of the current building are 8 feet.

“We were surprised to see that they were going to that new area,” said Dean Freeman, a senior vice president for Frauenshuh. “I wish I could say why GSA has the criteria that they do.”

Adding to the confusion are the enigmatic owners of the new building, who were awarded the contract to provide up to 39,998 square feet of office space.

Records show Davenport, Iowa-based Bloomingsa Venture LLC registered with the Iowa secretary of state in July last year, was awarded the $14.3 million contract by the GSA in August, and bought the building for $1.9 million from the Minnesota School of Business/Globe University in September. Calls for comment to Bloomingsa Venture’s principals in Davenport and Overland Park, Kan., were not returned.

Route to citizenship

For Elizaveta Iouchavaev, the route to becoming an American was on the 54 bus.

The 48-year-old native of Kazakhstan came to Minnesota in 2005 by way of Israel. She and her husband lived in Corcoran and drove to the Bloomington immigration offices. But after the couple divorced and she was living in St. Paul, she became skilled in the art of public transit.

“I looked up on computer how to get there and which bus to use,” she said. “It was not hard to find, yeah. I felt very independent.”

She took the bus to take her naturalization test and recently became a U.S. citizen. Iouchavaev now hopes to get citizenship for her 15-year-old and 16-year-old sons.

“If there is no bus, there is a big problem,” she said. “I can’t take taxi because it is very expensive. If I ask my friends, it’s hard to find anybody because they are working.”

Options for the future

Klobuchar expressed concerns to the GSA’s top administrator two weeks ago. A spokesman said the Minnesota Democrat urged the GSA to work with Metro Transit to address the access problems. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin also has been involved. Metro Transit has no plans to add a route to the new office.

John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, said a group of immigration lawyers is seeking legal advice about whether the lease could be voided because it violates the government’s own requirements.

It’s not the first time the GSA has faced criticism over such a move. Last year the same issue arose over a move from inner-city Pittsburgh to an outlying area.

“They already have crossed oceans and time zones, leaving their homes for a chance at a new life,” wrote the Pittsburgh City Paper. “Now immigrants who come to Pittsburgh must brave yet another alien world.”

 

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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