NORTH MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Even when Devean George was winning NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, he never forgot about his past.
“You see there are good people, you see that there are just people who need an opportunity,” George said about Minneapolis’ Northside.
George grew up in North Minneapolis, a community that continues to deal with pockets of crime and poverty. After he retired several years ago, he came back to help revitalize the area with a strong foundation.
“If you don't have stable housing, who really cares about your education, who really cares about eating healthy who cares about doing the right thing?” George said.
Together, with a group of investors, George pumped more than $11 million to build the Commons at Penn, a 47 unit affordable housing complex at the corner of Penn and Golden Valley Road.
After four years of planning the Commons on Penn opened last month. All the rooms have brand new appliances, cabinets, and counter tops. Additionally the complex will have a fitness room and tutoring center opening soon, along with a co-op on the first floor for the entire community.
Marcell Jackson’s a lifelong North Minneapolis resident and is still getting used to the accommodations.
“The peace and quiet, that's the best part about it,” she told Fox 9.
Others, who live at the Commons, were just relieved to have a place to live.
“A lot of residences that I applied for I wasn't able to get into because of my income,” said Tiffany Crooms.
George says he’s is just getting started. He says in the next couple years, there could be another commons opening up right across the street in what is currently an open lot.
However, all this success hasn't been a slam dunk since George barely knew how to develop, but he says what's kept him going is a painful memory. Back in 1996, during his time home from Augsburg College, he witnessed an 11-year-old boy gunned down during a drive by shooting in front of his porch on Newton Avenue, just blocks from the Commons.
“I remember it was like yesterday we were watching the Bulls game, he said. “And he died right here. As soon as I came down he died.”
While George says this community still needs a lot of work, he believes this development will make a difference, and inspire others to follow.