Community members push back against market planned for Minneapolis parking lot

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Community members were speaking out against a proposal to bring a new market to Cedar-Riverside in Minneapolis on Friday.

While city council members hope the Africa Village Public Market will bring positive change, some residents feel the money would be better spent on other projects.

At the Red Sea Restaurant, owner Russom Solomon brings the flavor of East Africa to the West Bank. But, a plan to give him a new neighbor is leaving a bad taste in his mouth.

"Parking is our lifeline; without which we cannot survive. A lot of our customers come from far away and if it’s so dense and overpopulated it may not appeal to them anymore," he said.

The City of Minneapolis wants to sell a 93-stall parking lot behind Solomon's business to build an Africa Village Public Market. City officials say the mall would be home to small businesses as well as housing, offices and a clinic and bring opportunities for East African immigrants to become entrepreneurs.

Hundreds of people turned out for a community meeting to learn more about the project. But protesters - who believe the market would bring more crime and congestion to a neighborhood where parking is already at a premium - caused such a commotion that Mayor Jacob Frey and City Councilmember Abdi Warsame left before getting a chance to address the crowd.

"Is there conflict along the way?" said Mayor Frey. "Of course there is. That's the nature of politics. That's the nature when people care about the communities in which they live and I'm all for it."

But Solomon wants the Africa Village taken off the menu.

"A mall in this very small area which is congested and so densely populated... it just doesn’t make sense at all."