Crippled Creek

After a century of empty promises, Minneapolis officials are finally poised to spruce up the polluted waterway that meanders through the city's north side. What changed? The buying power of the people who will live there.

The public-housing residents who started the whole thing by suing HUD, she says, just didn't see the politics of the big picture when they agreed to the settlement. If they had, they would have known that the city stood to benefit far more from the deal than the residents did.

"Those people were sitting on very valuable property and they were just sort of holding onto it for the city until the time was right," she adds. "I'm not willing to say that it's a full-blown conspiracy. But knowing politics and real estate and knowing the way that public housing over there was allowed to deteriorate in the years leading up to the lawsuit, it does seem more than coincidental that this has worked out to the city's advantage the way it has."

But now that the city has won this one and ground has been broken for the reinvented community, Green says, it's time to move forward. "Now that it's happened, I hope it succeeds," she says. "I don't want to see it become a ghost town over there so people will have lost their housing and their neighborhoods for nothing. Somebody who is making decisions downtown has decided that what has happened to the people of the north side is an acceptable consequence of redevelopment."

Green pauses there, and offers a final word of caution. "Planners have long memories, and these things take time," she says. "Anyone living in a really depressed area of the city ought to be looking around to see that this kind of thing doesn't happen to them."

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