Riot-damaged corridors in Minneapolis, including Lake Street, will receive another $10 million infusion of grants to help rebuild the important commercial arteries.
With the announcement Thursday, grants and other economic aid for the areas hit during the riots in the days following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020 totals about $100 million, about half of the uninsured losses.
The new Main Street revitalization grants, administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), will help 20 small businesses and nonprofits finish redevelopment projects. They will be followed by another $19.5 million worth of grants in 2023-24 for Minneapolis and corridors in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park.
The inflow of money and continued rebuilding is bringing "renewed energy" to the corridor, said Minneapolis Foundation CEO R.T. Rybak on Thursday during a press conference announcing the grants. He praised entrepreneurs "who have shown remarkable resilience" in forging forward with their plans while backed by an unprecedented public-private coalition.
Veteran restaurateurs Lina Goh and John Ng, owners of downtown's Zen Box, are among the recipients of the latest round of grants. They received $750,000 toward their several-million-dollar renovation of a century-old building at 28th Street and Nicollet Avenue, near the epicenter of the riots.
The husband-and-wife immigrant team started investing in the property in 2019 but were waylaid by the economic disruption of COVID-19, then the 2020 riot damage. They now hope to open the food hall in the winter, a space that "reflects the creativity, vibrancy and diversity of the Whittier neighborhood,'' Goh said.
The Minneapolis Foundation, LISC Twin Cities and Propel Nonprofits — which also have funneled private funds toward redevelopment — recommended businesses for the $10 million in current Main Street grants.
"We're thrilled to see these awards go directly to the entrepreneurs who are building the future of our economy," said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove.
More than 1,500 businesses were damaged along Lake Street and in other business districts in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the riots. With more than $500 million in damage, it is the second-costliest civil disturbance in U.S. history, trailing only the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Mortenson Construction has estimated the uninsured losses at $200 million.
The announcement of the latest grants was held on a vacant lot that once was the Odd Fellows building at 27th Street and E. Lake Street. It was destroyed by arson during the 2020 riots. The land has been sold to a housing developer.
Near that lot, the team behind $25 million-plus redevelopment of the arson-gutted Coliseum Building is set to begin as early as December. Neighborhood developer Redesign will receive $750,00 in grant money toward renovation of the 85,000-square-foot structure, according to Redesign's property development director Taylor Smrikarova.
Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center will receive $150,000 toward the renovation of its building and a 500-square-foot adjacent structure near 38th and Chicago. Also near that intersection is Jakeeno's Pizza and Pasta, which will receive $60,750.
Near Lake and Nicollet, Project for Pride in Living is building a mixed-use development including 110 units of housing where a Wells Fargo branch once stood. It will receive $750,000 toward the $50 million-plus project.
Along the West Broadway corridor also damaged during the riots, Juxtaposition Arts will receive $638,729 toward a $12.9 million renovation and expansion, and developer Chris Webley of New Rules will get $720,000 toward the renovation of 25 loft apartments.
Through 2021, $200 million worth of building permits were obtained for redevelopment of damaged properties in the Lake Street and West Broadway corridors. The city has yet to update that figure for 2022.
Besides the grants from DEED, the Lake Street Council has raised more than $12 million in small business assistance. Delta Dental Foundation, Mortenson, Target and other businesses have disbursed about $14.2 million through a Minneapolis Foundation "rebuild" fund that has helped more than 175 building and business owners with storefront repairs and security.