South Minneapolis environmental activists have raised — and the city has verified — $3.7 million in donations to buy 7.6 acres of city-owned property at E. 28th Street and Longfellow Avenue in the East Phillips neighborhood.

The property contains a former Roof Depot warehouse, which the group East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) intends to redevelop into an indoor farm.

The city gave EPNI until Wednesday to provide proof of having the $3.7 million in order to complete the sale. The total fair market value of the site is $11.4 million. The Legislature appropriated $2 million for the sale last session and pledged to secure another $5.7 million next year.

"It's awesome, it really is," said Dean Dovolis, founder of DJR Architecture and an EPNI board member. "The community came through and this is very significant."

Erik Hansen, Minneapolis' director of economic policy and development, confirmed the city accepted the guaranty on Wednesday afternoon.

Dovolis said EPNI will now start the entitlement process to establish development rights, organize commercial tenants and refine plans so that after closing comes next summer, construction can begin.

Residents of the diverse and working-class East Phillips neighborhood fought the city for control of the Roof Depot site for nearly a decade. Despite opposition from environmental and Native activists, the area's Council Member Jason Chavez and his predecessor Alondra Cano, the city spent nearly $17 million purchasing the warehouse and attempting to replace it with a Public Works facility.

The centrally located facility would have improved the efficiency of water infrastructure maintenance crews, but at the cost of concentrating diesel trucks and employee vehicles in East Phillips, which suffers high rates of asthma. Residents have long blamed nearby Highway 55 and industrial zoning that allowed businesses like Smith Foundry — recently found to have been violating its air permit in a surprise visit by the EPA — in their neighborhood.

Protesters prevented demolition of Roof Depot at the 11th hour last winter, and a deal struck with the Minneapolis legislative delegation brokered a purchase agreement between the city and EPNI. The Legislature has committed an additional $4.5 million to Minneapolis to build its Public Works facility somewhere else.

EPNI submitted proof of the $3.7 million Tuesday afternoon in the form of a personal guaranty organized by an individual, anonymous guarantor.

"This individual is committed to seeing this project come to fruition, to see the property be purchased from the city to develop a community asset, and that really is 100% of this individual's motivation," said Michael Weaver, the guarantor's lawyer. "His motive was not to make money."