Displaced by development

Regarding 1400 Nicollet Avenue (“Eat Street businesses exit 1400 block, some hoping to return,” Nov. 1–14), readers should know that Citizens for a Loring Park Community, dozens of residents, faith organizations and the now-displaced businesses lobbied months for a final product that would benefit existing and future community members.

From the outset, the developer was against maintaining the vibrant, artistic, person of color-, immigrant- and woman-owned businesses in comparable spaces at comparable rent. Additionally, they were against any sort of affordable housing — even at the rate of 60 percent of area median income, which would have opened up funds for businesses to relocate or take the hit. Businesses reported different versions of developer engagement, and some were never spoken to at all.

Now, we’ve lost all but one of the restaurants, at least nine POCI businesses and another arts organization. Keep in mind, the city has a goal of being a livable, vibrant city where cultural and commercial attractions are within walking distance! If Reuter Walton Companies was serious about smaller, local, entrepreneurial opportunities, they’d devote less space to IKEA showroom-style entrances and more footage to storefront space.

Side note: Several of us in the neighborhood who were engaged from day one are scratching our heads — why was Janne Flisrand interviewed for this story? Janne was never involved with this issue and never once attended a CLPC, City Planning Commission or City Council meeting in defense of the businesses or neighborhood.

We already see the brunt of development being borne by POCI business, families and resources. If the city truly stands on the rhetoric it promotes, much more aggressive action must be taken.

I advocate a charter amendment or policy stating that, where POCI and or immigrant businesses are displaced due to the interests of a “growing” city, affordable housing and commercial corridors must be developed. To me, this is one of the only ways we can defend our “values” in an otherwise market-driven developer’s paradise

Teqen Zéa-Aida

Loring Park