Swept Away

The likely demolition of over 700 public housing units in north Minneapolis will scatter people who live there and open up 73 acres of prime real estate at downtown's edge. Is it a matter of civic renewal or a land grab?

So far, nobody is willing to commit to what exactly is going to happen to the newly available land. Talk is always framed in pie-in-the-sky terms, and the process has been driven by consultants working behind closed doors. To marshal support and guard against a public backlash, Dziedzic has been trying to recruit local leaders from the community to go over and see the design center presentation. He called Ron Edwards, but so far Edwards hasn't made it over. To him, the objectives already seem clear enough. "We're talking about a very far-reaching and comprehensive plan of action," he says. "I don't think the folks have been honest about their intentions. They have been after that area and the extrication of the black community from that area since 1945. With its proximity to highways, downtown, and the suburbs, it's the kind of area that if I was with Edina Realty and we were talking about $200,000 homes and mid-level executives, I'd want to say, 'Come out to our new Olson Circle, to our Sumner Point, to Bassett Gardens. We can assure you we have cleaned the area up.' This is part land grab, and in the minds of some of us, it's also part of the city's gentrification and racial cleansing process. That's really what it is, pure and simple."

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