Progress in motion, consensus needed on George Floyd Square revitalization, council member says

Progress in motion, consensus needed on George Floyd Square revitalization, council member says

Progress in motion, consensus needed on George Floyd Square revitalization, council member says

On the heels of the fourth anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, disappointment lingers in the neighborhood where he was killed by Minneapolis police.

Since 2021, the city of Minneapolis has been working on plans to redevelop the street at George Floyd Square and create a permanent memorial and racial trauma healing center.

Ward 8 City Council Member Andrea Jenkins acknowledged her own initial frustration with the slow rolling process in an interview on Tuesday, but she said there has also been progress since the last anniversary that is worth recognizing.

“It feels like there’s some economic activity at the intersection,” she said, pointing to a couple of recently opened storefronts near the intersection of Chicago Avenue at East 38th Street “just in the last few months even.”

Those businesses include Listen 2 Us Studio, a photography gallery documenting the local social justice movement and The Square, a Black female-owned event venue and community gathering space.

“I would call that progress,” Jenkins said.

At least one of those properties did take advantage of city assistance, according to Jenkins, who clarified that the financial assistance was unrelated to $50,000 forgivable loans specifically set aside for neighborhood businesses back in 2021.

The city’s most recent investment in the area was buying the former Speedway gas station, now called Peoples Way, with the intention of turning it over to a community group that can turn it into a trauma healing center.

Included in that vision, Jenkins said, would be “opportunities for new artists to present, exhibit, et cetera — a space for entrepreneurs to open up businesses … various healing modalities as well as having, you know, I think lectures, dialogues, trainings for communities to come together and try to understand how do we become a more anti-racist community.”

The former gas station has been sitting vacant since last year, though, much to the dismay of some neighbors.

In an interview on Saturday, Bridgette Stewart, director of communications for George Floyd Square business Agape Movement, called the building “a nuisance.”

“We are every day having to say to homeless people, ‘Hey, you can’t — we can’t have a homeless encampment here. We can’t keep picking up needles,’” Stewart said.

The space won’t be filled for at least another couple of years. Like all city-sanctioned redevelopment for George Floyd Square, it’s on pause as city staff goes back to step one with another round of public engagement, pushing the start of any construction at the intersection back to at least 2026.

“Well, I think the hold up has been the lack of consensus around moving forward,” Jenkins said, asked about the hold up.

Jenkins acknowledged the frustration with the delay that she expressed to fellow City Council members in October, adding, “I have since come to appreciate that, you know, this is really a — I would say an adaptive problem, that we have to be very mindful, and deliberate and considerate of the trauma that the community has experienced. And, how do we bake in truth and reconciliation, racial healing into this process?”

Past public input will still be considered in final decision-making, Jenkins said, adding that the city brought in new partners — including an architectural firm and cultural wellness consultant — to help shape a more unified vision this time.

“At some point, we have to come to a consensus, right? And I think this process will give us the opportunity to come to that consensus,” Jenkins continued.

The city’s next public engagement session is scheduled for late June.