Plans for a large-scale high density housing project to be erected on West Broadway in North Minneapolis made progress last month, to the trepidation of few neighbors. Some people in the Jordan neighborhood where the project is to be erected are worried about the project’s required 20% affordable housing.
“Broadway Green”, a proposed three-story, 50-unit rental project is one of the pieces of a larger redevelopment project called The West Broadway Curve, which occupies the northern side of West Broadway between James and Logan Avenues North, one block east of the Penn-Broadway intersection.
On March 2, the Minneapolis City Council granted exclusive development rights for Legacy Management and Development for eight city-owned parcels located on the Curve, and on March 10, Jordan Area Community Council (JACC) approved their support of the project in a 5-3 vote.
JACC Boardmember Eric Makkela Johnson, who dissented in the vote, said that North Minneapolis has enough affordable housing. “It’s counterintuitive,” he said. “We have surplus housing.” Johnson is concerned especially about the safety issues that would arise if the project goes forward. “Studies show high density low income housing creates high crime,” he said. “My reference in terms of concern are the apartment complexes on Cedar Riverside, or the former Cabrini Green in Chicago,” he said, though he noted that he knows this project wouldn’t be as large as those projects.
Makkela is also concerned that by creating more affordable housing, it will discourage people who don’t need affordable housing from coming to the neighborhood. “If we want to pick up this neighborhood, we have to attract money,” he said. In his view, the project “doesn’t do anything to solve the problem of lousy investors and the housing crisis.”
Another JACC board member, Michael Browne, said that he wasn’t too crazy about the project. Besides thinking that he would rather see the area on Broadway become a healthy business corridor instead of a housing project, he also has concerns that so many tax dollars would be spent on it.
Tiffany Glasper, Project Coordinator for the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) said that when the project was originally presented to the city by Legacy four years ago, it contained 100% affordable housing. At that time, the city didn’t want to saturate the market, so it asked the developer to reduce the number of affordable units to 20%. She said there needed to be at least 20% affordable housing units in order to obtain city and county funds for the project.
Glasper said that Legacy originally partnered with Holding Forth the Word of Life Church, which owned properties on the curve. However, the church’s properties were in danger of foreclosure, and at that point the city decided to acquire the properties.
Glasper said that Legacy is taking care to create a “fantastic” development in order to attract people. Some amenities, she said, include underground parking, in-unit laundry, and “a ton of green elements.” There will be lots of green space, she said. The design will also be geared toward safety, using the principals of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Some CPTED elements will include an open, inviting front entrance, windows that look out into the street, pedestrian scale lighting to “encourage people to come out and create a more walk-able environment”.
JACC Boardmember Dan Rother is excited about the project. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful project for the North Side,” he said. He hopes the project will “anchor the Broadway Curve with decent housing,” he said. Addressing concerns about the affordable housing, Rother said that right now, because Jordan’s housing is so depreciated, there won’t be any difference between the market rate and the affordable rate. “It’s all affordable right now,” he said. However, he noted that in 20 to 30 years, when hopefully the neighborhood will be in an upswing, that 20% affordable housing will be available.