UROC: Urban Research & Outreach/Engagement Center


North Side residents will soon be seeing construction work at the former Plymouth-Penn shopping Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N. The University of Minnesota bought the site–which formerly included Snow Foods and Lucille’s Kitchen–from the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC) in February, 2008.

The U, according to recent press releases, plans to rehab it and use it for “research, outreach and engagement” activities. The center will be called UROC, the Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center.

Stahl Construction and MN Best Enterprises, Inc. comprise the construction team. Urban Design Perspectives with Charles Levin Architects are the architects on the project. Artist Seitu Jones, a public art consultant (who also worked on the Sumner Library renovation), will “assist in capturing culturally significant design elements.” Irma McClaurin, executive director of UROC, said in the press release that there are many challenges in transforming a shopping center into offices.

The 21,000 square-foot building will house The Center for Early Education and Development’s 500 Under Five Kindergarten readiness program (in partnership with North Side families), and the University Northside Partnership Office. It will also include four U of M Extension programs: urban youth development, nutrition education, family development, and master gardening. The U’s medical school health disparities program, the Center for Innovation and Economic Development, and UROC administrative offices will also be based at the site.

The center is expected to open to the public in late 2009.

The shopping center, originally called the King Shopping Center, was the subject of a 2007 dispute between NRRC and the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) regarding how NRP loans for renovation and redevelopment of the center would be repaid when the U of M bought the building. NRP and NRRC reached an agreement before the U of M purchase, at a price of $1.25 million, was finalized.