In north Minneapolis, contested visions for future of controversial liquor store

Future of Merwin Liquors

Future of Merwin Liquors

Some residents in North Minneapolis are pushing for the end of a liquor store on a corner with a troubled history.

The corner of Broadway and Lyndale avenues has been known for patterns of violence.

However, in the last year, city data shows gun crimes on the Northside decreased by 40%.

Some neighbors said the crime decrease is not enough and Merwin Liquors remains a problem.

The Sanctuary Covenant Church, located next door to the store, launched a petition with over 800 signatures hoping to stop the transfer of the liquor license to another owner.

In the petition, the church cites concerns regarding signs of addiction and trauma associated with the corner. The church referenced drug and alcohol abuse and overdoses that still happen.

At Sanctuary Covenant Church, Jesse Ross has a front-row seat to what happens in the Merwin Liquors parking lot.

“I’ve seen everything from prostitution to drugs,” he said. “It hurts me. I’ve been in this community for a really long time and unfortunately, I don’t enjoy coming down to that intersection.”

The Merwin Liquors parking lot has a dark history.

“You can literally walk up and down Broadway or go to North High School and they will tell you that they’ve had a friend, family member or other people that they know who’ve been shot and killed or sold drugs,” Ross said.

The church next door believes the liquor store is fueling the problem.

“We’re very strongly against anybody owning a liquor store on that corner based off the history of all the destruction that was happening,” Ross said.

We Push for Peace founder Trahern Pollard said he’s focused on the present.

“No more shootings, no more murders, no more. None of that stuff,” he said. “Right now it’s time to transfer the license.”

Pollard opened a community resource center in the Merwin Liquors building one year ago. He explained since then, he’s seen a decrease in crime. 

With his LLC, TXT Wine and Liquors, he’s hoping to get the liquor license and own Merwin Liquors.

“Some of the resources that we were able to develop is because of us acquiring funds from that liquor store, including backpack giveaways, bike giveaways and gift card giveaways,” Pollard said. “The one that wants to own the property is sowing seeds back into that same community.”

The city of Minneapolis is holding a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Northside Community Center in Cub Foods to gather public opinion about possibly issuing the license to Pollard’s LLC.

The community is encouraged to attend and share their concerns.

“People are entitled to how they feel, which is why I welcome people to come to the public hearing,” Pollard said.