A long-vacant industrial parcel in south Minneapolis may become the site of a new East African marketplace.

A City Council committee directed city staff Tuesday to conduct a feasibility study at the city-owned site, located at 2600 Minnehaha Av. The study will determine whether the city should solicit bids for a cooperative public market there.

"The aim of this is to give success to startup immigrant-owned businesses in our city in order to eliminate disparities and ensure that community assets are preserved and strengthened, as well as to increase the tax base," said Council Member Abdi Warsame.

Warsame pledged to find a home for the East African business community last winter, after raising concerns about the dependence business owners have on Basim Sabri and his family, who manage two shopping centers with the largest concentration of Somali businesses in the Twin Cities — the Karmel Square Mall off West Lake Street and the Village Market at the corner of 24th Street and Elliot Avenue S.

The potential new marketplace would be on the last redevelopment site in the Seward Place Industrial Business Park. The city completed pollution remediation there in 2013, and has spent years trying to find someone to redevelop the 1.5-acre parcel.

At the committee meeting Tuesday, Council Member Jacob Frey applauded the effort to turn the site into a marketplace. "This is no small endeavor," he said. "I think this is a project that is ripe. It's a project that I'm very excited about on behalf of the Somali community."

The full council will vote on whether to order the feasibility study at its Aug. 31 meeting.

Emma Nelson • 612-673-4509