A proposal to demolish the Glendale row houses and replace them with a mixed-income development in southeast Minneapolis may be at a dead end without the support of the area’s City Council member.

Cam Gordon outlined his opposition to the redevelopment in a letter released this week by Defend Glendale, the resident group that has opposed demolition in favor of improvements to the 64-year-old buildings.

“I support Defend Glendale’s efforts to have their homes repaired and improved with no displacement and no gentrification,” Gordon said. He’s also considering a Prospect Park Association proposal to seek historic preservation status for the 184-unit complex to make demolition harder.

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) has been seeking city help to redevelop Glendale, but support from a council member is often decisive in whether a project goes ahead in that member’s ward.

“It’s sort of back to square one,” Gordon said Thursday.

He said he thinks the project is in limbo because a raze-and-replace approach has met with widespread resident and neighborhood opposition, and because MPHA is in the middle of hiring a new leader.

The redevelopment was put on hold last July after agency officials met with city counterparts, including Gordon, amid continued opposition from many residents. An MPHA spokesman described the process then as “paused but not ended.”

The housing agency hadn’t made a formal decision to go ahead with redevelopment but was exploring multiple options, most of which involved adding larger multifamily buildings on all or part of the Glendale site. It said its new development would conform to the area’s future land use plan for 20 to 50 housing units per acre.

Glendale residents have said they fear displacement during construction and perhaps permanently, despite MPHA assurances that lease-compliant residents would keep housing assistance. Some are concerned about finding adequate housing in safe areas with rental vouchers, the loss of the spacious Glendale grounds and gentrification with redevelopment.

Although the housing agency is semi-independent and relies mostly on federal aid and resident rents for income, the mayor and City Council appoint its board.

“Thank you Cam for being an ally in our fight to save our homes!” Defend Glendale said in a statement released with his letter.

Gordon said there’s consensus in the community that current residents shouldn’t be displaced and deserve decent, safe and healthy housing. He noted the community supports rehab, not demolition, and continued public ownership of the complex.

The housing agency said it would need $27 million to renovate Glendale and make the complex habitable for another 20 years.

The agency said that HUD provides about $330,000 annually for Glendale improvements. That’s part of the agency’s federal aid that is spread over almost 6,000 units citywide in high-rise, scattered-site and row house public housing. MPHA said those units have $126 million in capital needs.

Gordon said he’d like to explore financing rehab work through the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund or by reviving city’s unused levy for the MPHA.

MPHA’s pitch for redeveloping Glendale would include larger buildings offering apartments for people across an array of income levels. The buildings would not be public housing, but those eligible for such housing could live in them with federal rent subsides. A developer would finance housing in the same buildings for people with higher incomes with other financing tools.

Gordon had previously met with both sides to see if a consensus could be reached on how to redevelop the site.


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