November 8, 2011, SNG Community Development Committee Agenda

AGENDA
SNG Community Development Committee
Matthews Center, 2318 29th Av. S.
November 8, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

7:00
Introductions and approval of minutes.

7:10
Discussion on SNG Loan Programs

At the last meeting, SNG’s housing programs were discussed and Doug Wise,
SNG Housing Coordinator, was asked to provide information on possible
program changes. To date, only five loans have been made for a total of
$40,934.68. See attached CDC Memo, a 2010 census profile for the Seward
neighborhood is also attched.

8:00
Updates:
Seward Redesign
SNG Housing Coordinator
City Council Member Gordon

8:10
Other Business

8:15
Adjourn. (The Park staff lock the outside doors at 9 p.m. so all
attendees must exit).

———

Minutes, SNG Community Development Committee Meeting of October 11, 2011

Attending: Charlie Hoffman (chair), Bob Hain, Sheldon Mains (SNG Board
Co-President), Ken Webb, Brian Miller (Redesign), Bruce Johansen, Kevin
Brown, Peter Fleck (Seward ENews), Doug Wise (SNG Housing Program), Andy
Hestness and Daniel Yang (both of NACDI, the Native American Community
Development Institute) and Bernie Waibel (minutes).

Sheldon announced that SNG would receive a McKnight matching (membership)
grant this year so urged attendees to hang onto this year’s donation to
SNG until the matching component of the McKnight grant could kick in. Sheldon suggested that a generous check written at that time would be
matched by McKnight. Sheldon also said that funding was received for the
bike center near the LRT station which will emphasize service to East
African individuals.

The minutes for the September meeting were approved.

Andy Hestness of the Native American Community Development Institute
(NACDI) gave a powerpoint presentation about the American Indian Cultural
Corridor Project along Franklin Avenue in Phillips and the western part of
Seward. Andy’s group organized a task force which examined the area’s
social services and their outcomes.

Among its findings, the group found that social service outcomes hadn’t
kept pace with the amount of investment. There needs to be alignment
among all the agencies active in the Indian community. Another finding is
that with all the institutional investment along Franklin Avenue
(apartment buildings and new retail centers), there’s been a loss of
texture including the smaller places (bars, e.g.) that give people a
chance to gather and create community.

Andy talked about the history of the community and said that the community
developed in response to the Federal government’s effort fifty years ago
to depopulate Indian reservations and move the inhabitants into an urban
setting. Minneapolis is at the geographical center of the five-state
area’s Indian (Ojibwe and Sioux) reservations.

Recent development along the Franklin corridor include the Ancient Traders
Marketplace at 13th and Franklin; Many Rivers apartments East and West;
the Franklin Avenue Bakery; Anishinabe Bii-Gii-Wiin (chronic inebriate
support services), and the Minneapolis American Indian Center, to name
just a few projects.

Andy related that the community vision (determined after numerous
community discussions) calls for first, a Franklin Avenue Cultural
Corridor and then second, for bike paths to knit the community together. To see if there was a real market for a cultural corridor, the National
American Community Development Institute sponsored the American Indian
Arts Festival in 2010 and 2011. This is a two-day festival that drew over
8,000 visitors this year.

Andy presented a map which showed three centers for cultural activity in
the Phillips area: the LRT station area at Minnehaha, Cedar and Franklin
Avenues; the American Indian Center at Bloomington and Franklin Avenues
and the area at 11th and Franklin Avenues. The LRT area is seen as a
possible location for an American Indian museum and Native conference
center -the center would be easily reached from the airport and downtown. Bloomington Avenue would be a social service corridor in contrast to the
business and high residential density seen for Franklin Avenue.

Andy showed slides of the area on the east side of the LRT station
(looking west towards Phillips) and described the scene as “dreary”. Artists’ renderings showed improvement by reducing Franklin’s two lanes in
each direction to one in each direction, and the addition of bicycle
lanes. The elimination of one lane in each direction would allow more
parking; traffic calming; pedestrian walkway space, and people on the
street.

An attendee concurred that the area was bleak and said that Seward’s own
planning effort on Franklin a couple of years before had also identified
this area as needing improvement. Between the Welna II Hardware store and
the LRT, it’s something of a ‘no-go’ area with a sense of safety lacking.

There was a discussion as to how the Ventura Village neighborhood group
would accept the closure of one lane of Franklin in each direction. There
was a discussion about forming a joint Phillips/Ventura Village/Seward
task force to deal with the needed changes. A joint effort led by Transit
for Livable Communities would provide expert advice and be politic in that
it would remove Seward as a target for being too parochial. Bob lauded
TLC for providing excellent advice to the communities regarding the recent
Riverside rebuilding effort and said that the agency had worked very well
with the engineers at Public Works. As an example, it had brought in
design practices from other cities to provoke new thinking at Public
Works.

Andy mentioned that the funding currently in place for LRT area
improvements would provide several bump-outs to shorten pedestrian
crossing distances and some pedestrian level lighting, but there would be
no major improvements to sidewalks, streetscaping, the Franklin Avenue
median, etc..

Bicycle lanes are envisioned by Phillip’s planning on major arteries. Committee members advised Andy to get planning done quickly for street
improvements because street repairs are planned by the City (“mill and
overlay”). The Phillips neighborhood could be caught off-guard since
there’s no time to do neighborhood planning when Minneapolis Public Works
is ready to move. Seward had had discussions and neighborhood plans
emplaced in anticipation of street repairs, so had a rationale for bike
lanes nicely laid out.

Motion: Because the redevelopment of Franklin Avenue as a cultural
corridor is transformative for our next-door neighbor, Phillips and is
important to Seward in directly affecting the western end of Seward, be it
moved that the SNG provide active cooperation with Phillip’s planning
efforts. Bob moved and Peter seconded. All in favor, no nays.
___________________________

Doug Wise, Housing Program Coordinator reported that Seward’s housing
programs are underutilized this year compared to last. There was a
discussion as to why this is occurring. Suggestions included a lack of
money due to unemployment; a reluctance to invest in homes that had lost
value due to market declines, and a general sense of uncertainty and
malaise.

Doug said that only $40,000 of Seward’s funding had been used to date but
a speaker pointed out that a total of almost $400,000 had been leveraged
when the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency’s (MHFA) other loans to Seward
residents were included -the Seward program’s stated aim of promoting
leverage of other funds was highly successful. Applicants who don’t meet
the Seward programs’ fairly low income standards (80% of Median Metro
Income) are directed by the Center for Energy (Seward’s agent/partner in
the program) to MHFA funding, which has more generous income limits (115%
of MMI).

Doug provided a chart that broke down Seward, MHFA and CEE loans by type
and the Committee found that utilization of energy improvement loans had
increased dramatically in 2011. Countering that, MHFA Fix-up Loans
utilization had dropped by half showing that owners had become
conservative in investing funds into their homes for general
repairs/remodeling.

Conversation turned to the Seward program income limits -were they too
constraining? An attendee opined that Seward has fewer low-income
homeowners now than in years past and that fewer numbers meet the
program’s stringent income criteria. Others questioned whether the
programs were helping the people and properties who needed it the most,
had those people in the worst pockets of housing within Seward been
helped? Sheldon and Doug stated that Doug had worked the areas within
the neighborhood which had the most deteriorated housing and that he’d
advertised the programs extensively in all email correspondence and
newsletters.

Brian lobbied for the revival of the Blighted Housing Program which would
award developers larger chunks of funding to remove or extensively repair
homes that are in dire condition. Other speakers said that the market is
working in this regard and that helping more homeowners with smaller
improvements is more useful.

Doug will return in November with more analysis of the housing programs
and the number and type of loans awarded.
__________________________________

There was a discussion about the demise of the Koyi Sushi restaurant in
the old Co-op grocery building and whether Seward’s loan to the
restaurant’s owner was at risk. Seward had guaranteed a loan to the
restaurant owner for a commercial kitchen with a large certificate of
deposit held by the lender.

The owner of the former restaurant has signed a bill of sale transferring
the value of the kitchen equipment to the owner of the building. A new
restaurant operator will cause payments on the loan to resume. A speaker
questioned whether there was $112,000 worth of remaining value in the
kitchen equipment. Other speakers defended the awarding of the original
$150,000 loan, of which $38,000 has been paid off to date.

Redesign is working with the building owner to find another restaurant to
use the space. In planning discussions, the neighborhood has come down
squarely on the side of finding unique restaurants and eschewing chain
restaurants. Brian said that Submarine Sandwich franchise scouts have
approached his agency but the neighborhood has ruled them out.
_______________

Before adjourning, Brian reported that the owners of the empty lot at 3008
E. 26th Street revised their design and are now planning a two-story house
with a garage in front. Bedrooms with be on the second floor and not in
the basement as previously planned.

Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

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