Rybak pushes for improving North Minneapolis in speech

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In his annual State of the City address Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak linked the fate of the struggling North Minneapolis neighborhood to the overall health of the city.

Using the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis as his backdrop, Rybak focused on the needs of the struggling neighborhood, calling for improvements in public safety, housing, jobs, transit, and opportunities for young people.

“If the city wants to grow, the key will be North Minneapolis,” Rybak said.

Hundreds of people, including many top city officials, gathered in the recently-renovated theater to hear the mayor speak.

 Rybak highlighted some of the neighborhood’s successes, like a 45 percent decrease in violent crime since 2006 — the last time he spoke at the Capris Theater — but he added that the city should not have “any sense of complacency,” especially in light of a recent rise in violent crimes.

Rybak also placed a high priority on improving housing in an effort to bring more residents into the city, especially North Minneapolis.

While several parts of the city grew in population since the 2000 census, the city’s population remained stagnant largely because roughly 8,000 residents left North Minneapolis.

The mayor called for further investment in the neighborhood and also announced plans for a new housing program called Green Homes North, which will produce 100 new green homes on city-owned vacant lots on the northside over the next five years.

Funds for the program will come from city and state coffers.

Rybak also promoted transit improvements by making buses more efficient and timely and calling for a possible streetcar in North Minneapolis as well as downtown. He also announced the city has received an anonymous $50,000 grant to reforest the area after a tornado last May destroyed many trees.