Nearly two years after Floyd’s murder — plans to ‘re-envision’ the 38th and Chicago area begin
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George Floyd Square is a place of healing, reflection, and remembrance.
“George Floyd’s murder changed our world, changed our country, changed our city,” says Alexander Kado, a City of Minneapolis project manager.
This past Wednesday marked one year since former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death.
Bridgette Stewart — with the outreach group AGAPE — remembers that anniversary well.
“It was raining that day, and I felt like the sky was crying and we were crying,” she says.
The memorial at 38th and Chicago — where Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020 — is visited by people from around the world.
Their journeys are marked by colorful pins displayed on a map.
Stewart says the sun came out on Thursday.
“We had so many people inside the square visiting and just being outside and talking to different visitors,” she recalls. “Just gave me that optimism again.”
On Saturday, Minneapolis Department of Public Works staffers and city leaders held an open house on future plans for the square.
The project is called “38th and Chicago, Re-envisioned.”
“Re-envisioning, redesigning and reconstructing the intersection with community stakeholders,” Kado notes. “That includes the street, the sidewalks, the curbs, the gutter.”
Project managers say there are no specific designs yet — but ideas include new sidewalks, street lighting, a potential link to bus service, and more.
“Also to provide some greening, some trees, some boulevard,” Kado explains. “We also want to explore design options that are pedestrian-friendly and also incorporate transit in this space as one of the design goals.”
The “Re-envisioned” project will not include plans for a permanent George Floyd memorial — that will be done separately.
But it will provide space for the memorial.
City officials say it will be a parallel project with the street improvements — a national park space or a monument are among the ideas being talked about — but there’s no timetable yet.
Meanwhile, the city is pledging to hold a thorough public review process.
“It’s about what the community thinks, the folks that live here, work here and are invested in this intersection, in these neighborhoods,” declares Denetrick Powers, with the real estate consulting firm NEOO Partners — which is doing community engagement work for the project. “We’ll have a community co-creation team which will act as an advisory group for the project and help develop recommendations that will go before the city council.”
If you’ve visited the square, you may have seen flowers planted here and there.
Jay Webb — who’s known as “the gardener” in this neighborhood, has been busy.
He hopes these potential green spaces can be blended with a permanent memorial to George Floyd.
“Make Minneapolis even more beautiful — one seed at a time,” Webb says. “George Floyd square is a green summit. It’s a green zone. An atrocity turned into a beautiful thing. An urban garden.”
In a handout released Saturday, project managers call George Floyd square “a sacred place” — that should be preserved for future generations.
Powers emphasizes this is just the start of a long review process — with construction — if approved — starting in 2024 at the earliest.
Stewart says she’s hopeful — that the now re-opened streets are only the beginning.
A resurgence of a proud neighborhood — with strong roots in the Black community. “It’s going to be more pedestrian it sounds like, to allow people to walk on the sidewalk, instead of the street,” she says. “But if it does become more of a vision of what Nicollet Mall looks like, then the permanent memorial will be amazing, I think. It’ll have the opportunity to perfectly reflect the diversity that represents the corridor of 38th and Chicago.”