Saturday January 16th 2021

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East Phillips Urban Farm & Housing vs City of Minneapolis


Neighbors Made a Plan:
Neighbors of East Phillips made a plan to buy and use 7.5 acres of land with a building between Longfellow Ave. and the Midtown Greenway and 27th St. and 28th St. when it became for sale in 2014. Led by Little Earth of United Tribes, Somali Chemical Awareness, the Urban Farm Project, the Women’s Environmental Institute, and the East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC), they planned an Indoor Urban Farm for green jobs, second-chance job opportunities and job training, a community commercial kitchen, an all nations World café, Market run by local youth, bike repair facility, and 28 affordable 2 bedroom housing units with start-up funding by DEED grant from the state of Minnesota.

Neighbors Plan Meets City Green Zone Goals & HIA Recommendations :
The Plan’s goals exemplify the Mpls. City Council’s Green Zone resolution; “Be it further resolved that Green Zone efforts will include community led planning, prioritization of homegrown development, and community ownership of the Green Zone initiatives that are innovative, creative, courageous, flexible and adaptive.”

City Plan Denies Green Zone Goals, State Laws, and Equity:
The City’s project will 1. Demolish the 236,000 square foot warehouse, 2. Release dangerous arsenic during demolition,; Bring 400+ commercial vehicles and 400 workers vehicles into this already polluted community, 3. Store water & sewer pipes, manhole covers 4. Hot-mix smelly asphalt.
The City is ignoring the recommendations of the State mandated 2017 Phillips Neighborhood Health Impact Assessment for City leaders to REDUCE the traffic and pollution burden on the Community that is the most diverse, least affluent neighborhood in Mpls. that is overburdened with Arsenic and lead pollution, from freeways, cars, trucks, foundry, and asphalt plant; having more emergency room visits from asthma, children’s lead poisoning, heart disease, and ADHD linked to pollutants than any other area in MN. The Southside Green Zone was created to improve this multi-generation pollution tragedy in East Phillips.

The City’s plan also ignores the language and legislative intent of the 2008 Clark/Berglin Environmental Justice law (MN Statute 116.07subd 4a), flaunting their stand as above the law. The authors of the law are ready to testify to their goals and intent in passing this law.

No Community Input Allowed:
The Minneapolis City Council and Public Works staff, prohibited open discussion of the Community Plan in Council and Public Works meetings since it undermind Neighbor’s Purchase Proposal to the previous owner by threatening Eminent Domain. Andrea Jenkins provided 20 minutes on Jan. 20, 2020 six years after we started working on the problem and well after all votes had been taken to support the demolition of the warehouse and prevent any “non municipal use” at the Hiawatha Campus expansion site. The community is thankful to C.M. Jenkins for allowing the neighbors to be heard.

Entire Sears/Roof Depot Warehouse Needed for Neighbors’ Plan
All 7.6-Acres of the Roof Depot site was originally, and is, the goal of the community’s project and would create a more viable project. Note: the City intends to demolish the warehouse without requird Environmental Permits; at any time. The community has requested notification of demolition date, but to no avail.

At least the South East portion of this building is required to create a sustainable Urban Farm Project. Constructing a new building is too expensive rendering the community project unsustainable.

Urban Farm Financial Support
In 2015, there was so much enthusiasm for the Indoor Urban Farm that the community had accumulated commitments for $9 million dollars in project support and had negotiated a $5 million dollar purchase price with the owners of the Roof Depot, the previous owner. This was all negated by the unethical threat of eminent domain by the city.

Opportunity is Still Possible
The City and State will miss an incredible opportunity to work with a challenged inner city neighborhood in a way that would benefit the local economy, workforce, and win awards as a model for cities everywhere.

Please Help Reverse City’s Momentum & Power
Please express your concern over this situation to Mayor Frey ( ), and the Minneapolis City Council (all can be reached at who have voted unanimously against the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm project in favor of more pollution.

Please Thank State Senators Patricia Torres Ray, Jeff Hayden, Scott Dibble, Bobby J Champion, Kari Dziedzic and State Representatives Hodan Hassan, Aisha Gomez, Jean Wagenius, Frank Hornstein, K Dziedzic, Fue Lee and All who SUPPORT the Urban Farm Project.We look forward to your response and support as we work together for Environmental and Economic Justice in our City and our State.

Please copy your communication and responses to this letter to Brad Pass at For questions, Brad can also be reached at 612-916-8478.

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