Some hail the $15 million Seward Co-op Friendship Store as a sign that E. 38th Street is ripe for renewal. Others see the new store as a harbinger of looming gentrification.
Now a second potentially notable addition is taking shape a block east of the new co-op store that faces Sabathani Community Center.
That’s a new building planned by Larry Tucker, owner of Kente Circle, a mental health business that emphasizes cultural competence in counseling individuals, couples and families.
He’s working toward a mid-2017 opening for a two-story building of about 8,000 square feet he hopes to build at 3800 4th Av. S. That’s next door to Kente’s current 2,300-square-foot building at 345 E. 38th, which Tucker plans to incorporate into the new structure.
The proposed site is now a vacant lot that once held a building containing a grocery store. The building was destroyed by fire in the late 1990s. Tucker acquired that property and one behind it in a Hennepin County auction of tax-forfeited land earlier this year.
The new construction will be a big step for an 11-year-old business that only moved out of nearby Sabathani Community Center two years earlier. “We’ve been growing at size we can handle,” he told a group of area residents at a recent session at Sabathani. He said Kente Circle has 17 employees, and its clientele is about 70 percent black
He said the Kente specializes in using cultural perspectives arising from race or other background characteristics in its counseling work.
Tucker said that therapist offices will be on the second floor, but there will be a large ground floor that can be used for training or rented for community events. He said he’s hoping that the space will reflect the area’s history as a hub of black-oriented commerce on the South Side. “This corner has a significant history and people have an emotional attachment to it,” he said. One theme earlier this year of a series of meetings focused on improving 38th, sponsored by Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, was to celebrate that heritage.
Tucker said he’s obtaining costs estimates from contractors for the stucco-sided building, which he hopes will be tinted in muted colors of West African kente cloth.
Meanwhile, a smaller 38th Street project two blocks west, on the other side of the new co-op, also is proceeding. That’s the bike-centered business planned by Anthony Taylor in a former filling station at 3800 3rd Av. S., later used as an ice-cream store.
Taylor told the group that he’s hoping to open in late spring, and hopes to have plans to show off early next year. He said he’s also narrowing the possibilities for a second business for the space that will offset to slower season for biking. Selling ice cream is one possibility, but he’s ruled out coffee.
(Photo above: Kente Circle now occupies the building to the right, but wants to incorporate it into expansion space to be built on the vacant lot shown.)