Neighborhood News

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November 10, 2003 // UPDATED 11:06 am - April 30, 2007
By: Skyway News Staff
Skyway News Staff

What\'s going on in some of the downtown area neighborhoods and notes from Neighborhood meetings.

Media deception topic of Nov. 11 forum Filmmaker and TV journalist Danny Schecter will discuss "Weapons of Mass Deception: How the Media Have Become Propaganda Tools and What to Do About It" at the 2003 Annual Celebration of Peace. The event is Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave.

Two-time Emmy Award-winner Schecter has been a journalist for over 30 years, spending eight years as an investigative reporter for ABC's "20/20" news program and producing and directing TV specials and films such as "Countdown to Freedom: Ten Days that Changed South Africa" (1994) and "Prisoners of Hope" (1996). Along with Faye Anderson, he made last year's scathing documentary of the 2000 presidential election, Counting on Democracy, shown on PBS.

Noted Twin Cities jazz pianist Larry McDonough will open the evening with a set at 7 p.m., followed by the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Schecter's speech is presented by the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, a coalition of 52 peace and justice organizations. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door.

Call 823-6921 for more information. -- Michael Metzger

MCTC gets $200,000 for mansion renovation Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) has received a $200,000 federal grant to restore a 19th-century mansion that houses programs for low-income students and senior citizens.

Minneapolis Congressperson Martin Sabo secured the funding for the H. Alden Smith Mansion, known as the Wells Center. "From programs focused on at-risk youth to continuing adult education to teaching computer skills to seniors, the MCTC utilizes the beautiful Smith mansion to improve the lives of many in our community," Sabo said, in a prepared statement.

MCTC President Phil Davis said the money will go toward an estimated $3 million face-lift of the mansion, located at the corner of Harmon Place and Spruce Place.

The house, donated in 1996, needs considerable improvements, Davis said, including tuck-pointing on the roof and other upgrades to make it handicap-accessible.

Currently, more than a dozen people work in the mansion. The school's Senior Net program provides senior citizens with help learning how to use the computer.

MCTC also runs several federally funded programs for low-income students. -- Sarah McKenzie

Loring Park bench honors Wellstone A bench in Loring Park's Garden of the Seasons has been dedicated in honor of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone and his wife Sheila Wellstone.

Jean Nudell, a long-time Loring Park resident, has offered her bench sitting in the northeast corner of the garden's inner circle, facing Downtown, as a memorial to the couple.

"I feel very honored," Nudell said, who purchased the bench for $2,000 two years ago as part of a park beautification effort. "I didn't know him personally. But it felt like a personal loss."

"Remembering Paul and Sheila Wellstone," is embossed on the side of the red bench. Two bricks dedicated to the political couple memorialize them below. -- Sarah McKenzie

Town Plaza purchaser won't expel residents A local church foundation intent on purchasing a Loring Park apartment building for low-income students [has cut that plan in half] in the face of concerns raised by current residents.

The Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation is proceeding with plans to buy the 35-unit Town Plaza Apartments, 1501 Hawthorne Ave., from the Jeremiah Program. The foundation has signed a purchase agreement, said its Executive Director Lee Blons, contingent on securing $1.6 million for the project by this spring.

News of the foundation's plans, however, has riled a few residents worried about being displaced, said Michael Grider, a Town Plaza tenant.

Grider met with the neighborhood group, Citizens for a Loring Park Community, earlier this month. The group's Land Use Committee supported the project on the condition that the foundation reserved half of the units for students.

No tenants will be displaced, Blons said, adding that the foundation never intended to ask current residents to leave.

The foundation has targeted the building because of its proximity to the Minneapolis Community and Technical College, 15th Street and Hennepin Avenue, and Dunwoody Institute, 818 Dunwoody Blvd. The foundation has not done a survey, however, on student housing needs in the area. Most students at those schools commute.

However, the foundation notes in a project proposal that Loring Park faces "extreme gentrification pressure" and points out that students have few affordable housing options near the schools.

The foundation plans to keep rents at from $390 to $520 a month. Some of the efficiency apartments will also be targeted for Section 8 housing.

Blons said the foundation plans to seek about $900,000 in city and state funding. It also plans to apply for a federal home loan to secure financing. -- Sarah McKenzie

Affordable housing readied at the Lamoreaux The Central Community Housing Trust (CCHT) is nearing completion on 39 new efficiency apartments above Downtown's O'Donovan's Irish Pub.

The new apartments are located on three new stories of the Lamoreaux building at 706 1st Ave. N. -- the wedge-shaped structure across the street from the Target Center and the First Avenue nightclub.

As of Nov. 1, 13 apartments were ready for tenants. The rest will be available by the end of the year.

CCHT has set aside eight of the 39 new units for formerly homeless people.

The building was built in 1912. It first served as a warehouse and later housed several labor unions. During his runs for Minneapolis mayor in the early 1940s, Hubert Humphrey planned campaign strategy there.

The new units will go above existing apartments. In total, the building has 73 units, with rents starting at $349 for the new efficiencies, said Nancy Doyle, communications manager for CCHT.

CCHT has owned and managed the building since 1992. It formerly served as a Salvation Army shelter.

It has been designated a sober house, meaning tenants aren't allowed to have alcohol on the premises, she said. (Ironically a giant Smirnoff billboard now covers the building.)

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program awarded CCHT $400,000 in affordable housing reserve funds for the $6 million project. The project also received funding from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, the National Equity Fund, the University of St. Thomas and the Federal Home Loan Bank. -- Sarah McKenzie

Neighborhood notes

Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA) Next: Annual Meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 19 at the St. Thomas Law School. The board will meet 6:30 p.m. prior to the annual meeting. Meetings: Board meetings 2nd Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m., LaSalle Plaza, 800 LaSalle Ave., Suite #131\\ Contact: 659-1279, Borders: Mississippi River, Hennepin Ave., Washington Ave., 3rd Ave., 12th St., 5th Ave., 5th St., I-35W.

North Loop Neighborhood Association 10/29 board meeting MORE LOFTS: Yet another condo development is slated for Downtown. David Frank, a project manager with developer Shafer Richardson, updated the board on plans for a new, 45-loft housing development at 710 N. 4th St. Demolition is underway with construction scheduled to begin in December. The lofts will range from $200,000-$400,000 and be available for occupants sometime next year. The board voted to give the project neutral support. PROCESS: Board members discussed beginning a new process to vet development projects that go before the board. Some expressed concern that neighborhood groups lack a formal process to objectively evaluate the projects that seek city approval. Next: Board meeting, Nov. 26. Meetings: Last Wednesday of the month, 7 p.m., Heritage Landing, 415 N. 1st St. Contact: Jim Grabek, 677-1090, Borders: Lyndale Ave., Mississippi River, I-94, Hennepin Ave., Washington Ave., 3rd. Ave.

Citizens for a Loring Park Community Next: Nicollet Task Force, Wednesday, Nov. 12. Meetings: Board meets 2nd Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. 430 Oak Grove St., #207. Nicollet Task Force, 2nd Wednesday, Hibaq Coffee Shop. Livability Committee, 3rd Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., Dunn Bros on 15th St.; Land Use Committee, 6:30 p.m., 4th Monday, 430 Oak Grove St. Contact: Jana Metge, 874-9002; Borders: S. 12th St., I-35W, I-94, Lyndale Ave., and I-394.

Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc. Next: Board, Monday, Nov. 10. Meetings: Board 2nd Monday of the month, 7 p.m., 1000 E. 14th St.; Economic Development Strategies, 3rd Wednesday, Building Land Use and Housing, 3rd Thursday; Neighborhood Action Committee, 4th Monday. (EPNI's committee meetings are open to all adults who live, work or own property in the neighborhood. Local Churches may appoint up to 3 people to represent them.) Contact: 335-5846 Borders: I-94, Hwy. 55, 5th Ave., S. 5th St.

Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association Next: Meeting, Tuesday Nov. 18. Meetings: 3rd Tuesday of the odd-numbered months, 7 p.m., Pracna on Main, 117 SE Main St. Contact: Borders: Nicollet Island, Mississippi River, Central Ave. SE, railroad tracks north of and parallel to 1st Ave.

Downtown Action Network Next: Thursday, Nov. 13 (a special tour of the WCCO television studio on 11th Street and Nicollet Mall starts 1 p.m.) Meetings: 2nd Thursday monthly, Downtown Council offices, 81 S. 9th St., Suite 260. Lunchtime presentations are free and open to the public, but no lunch is served. Contact: