Update: Minneapolis Seward site
From: Fred H Olson -- WB0YQM (FRED%JWHVX.CIS.UMN.EDU)
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 93 10:45 CST
Update: Minneapolis Seward site

>From Fred Olson fholson [at] uci.com

The Seward core group was formed in May 1992 to pursue development of
a cohousing community on a 4 acre former truck depot site on the south
edge of the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis.  (The site is .75
miles south of the I-94 bridge over the Mississippi River which can be
found on the metro map in any U.S. road atlas.) We have the support of
the neighborhood group (which is 30 years old, quite strong and
progressive) and their associated community development corporation -
Seward Redesign which is functioning much as our developer.  We hope
to have a diverse multicultural community and get funds thru the city
to acquire and clear the land for construction.  Working with public
agencies affects the process.

We are attracted to the Seward site because of it's urban location,
proximity to an established neighborhood, parks, libraries, the
University on Minnesota. Also its location on bus routes and within
bicycling distance of many urban amenities appeals to us.

Since the above was written we have had reports the ground and soil
contamination are worse than originally thought to the degree that
housing will be either expensive, impossible, unhealthy, and/or take a
long time etc.  But the information has been inconclusive - different
interpretations depending on who's doing the interpreting and possibly
what their perspective is.  As a result we still hold out a small hope
that cohousing could be built on the Seward site.

The city is in the process of deciding whether to acquire the site
thru its redevelopment agency with plans to demolish the structures and
cleanup the petroleum contamination (there is less clear evidence of
other (PAH) contamination) in preparation for commercial or industrial
reuse.  There is precident for switching sites that have been handled in
this way to housing development.   What follows is my statement to the
at a recent hearing.  Fred Olson


Statement to Minneapolis City Council Community Development Committee
Public hearing on United Van Bus site on Mon 11/22/93     from
Fred H. Olson, 1221 Russell Av N, Mpls,MN 588-9532 for Seward Cohousing Group

SUMMARY: The Seward Cohousing Group supports the proposed acquisition
of the UVB site with the hope that future uses of the site including
the construction of housing will be reevaluated as the nature of the
contamination and cleanup is determined further.

Hello, my name is Fred H. Olson.  I speak here for the Seward
Cohousing Group. Since 1977 I have lived at 1221 Russell Av N where we
renovated the house thru the Urban Homestead Program.  I am a block
club captain and have been active in a variety of community groups
over the years.  I am a member of the Seward Cohousing Group which
would like to build a cohousing community on the UVB site. The Seward
Cohousing Group has been meeting since May of 1992.

I assume most members of the community development committee are to
some extent familiar with the idea of cohousing so I will only briefly
describe it. I would be happy to describe cohousing in more detail or
answer questions for the committee any time.

Cohousing is housing designed to foster community and cooperation
while preserving independence. About 30 single family owner occupied
residences would be clustered near shared facilities along a
pedestrian street.  The scale and feel of the pedestrian street would
resemble Milwaukee Avenue. The (future) residents would design and
manage all aspects of their community. Cohousing is like building a
block club from the ground up to facilitate a high degree of
cooperation and neighborliness.  Though cohousing can be built in a
range of settings, the Seward Cohousing Group is specifically
committed to making it happen in the heart of the city of Minneapolis.
We have looked at other sites in the city but few are as desireable
for cohousing as the UVB site.  It is adjacent to the residential part
of Seward across 26th street to the North. It is also of a suitable
size to build about 30 single family residences at a net density
comparable to the single family detached housing in the neighborhood.

As an aside I'd like to mention that I am also a part of a group that
is studying a proposal to convert a block of existing housing in the
Phillips neighborhood to a sort of cohousing community by vacating the
alley, moving the parking and opening up the backyards as common
space.

The Seward Cohousing Group continues to meet despite the chances of
building cohousing on that site not looking particularly good at the
present time because of the contamination. Though the chance may be
small, we still think there is a chance that it can be done. We are
aware that redevelopment projects require persistence and are trying
to hang in there for the long haul.  If the contamination can not be
cleaned up sufficiently for the site to be a healthy place to live,
then of course we don't want to live there.  At the present time I
think the evidence is still inconclusive as to whether such a cleanup
is possible and able to be funded.  When the buildings are demolished
and the petroleum cleanup is pursued, the dimensions of the other
contamination and the feasibility of building housing on the site
should become clearer.  Therefore we support the acquisition of the
site for industrial reuse with the provison that future use of the
site will be reevaluated as the nature of the contamination and
cleanup is determined further.

We think the neighborhood has shown a clear preference to use the UVB
site for housing if possible.  If it is determined that housing is
feasible, we would hope that our cohousing proposal would be
considered for the site.  On the other hand if housing is not deemed
to be feasible then we would support a commercial or industrial reuse.
When information is incomplete it is necessary to allow for various
contigencies when planning.  That is what we support.

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