Displacement, gentrification concerns in proposed Upper Harbor Terminal project

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Concerned and curious, Minneapolis residents signed in and were welcomed to a community engagement event at the Capri Theatre Sunday.

They were there to hear about the proposed Upper Harbor Terminal concept plan, about which residents had strong opinions.

“I, for one, am not going to sit back quietly and watch our birthright sold down the river,” said Michael Chaney, a community elder. “We should be talking about co-ownership because anything short of ownership is sharecropping.”

The goal of the project is to create jobs, housing and park space that features a community ownership model. Exactly how the 48 acres along the Mississippi River will be redeveloped, however, remains a prime concern.

“There’s no plan for displacement or gentrification outlined in the plan,” said Catherine Fleming, a co-creation team member. “In addition, in the actual concept plan on page 25, second paragraph, it specifically says that they don’t care what the community says. They’re going to build the live music theater regardless of what we have to say.”

Even co-creation team members of the development team are still sorting out the details.

“What’s in the concept plan is that there is an approval for land uses,” said Dayna Frank, owner and CEO of First Avenue. “One of those land uses would be for music. We can’t proceed with anymore studies until we have land uses. I mean, that’s just where we’re at in the process.”

A big player in the Upper Harbor Project is Thor Companies, which has been under financial strain of late.

“I’ve been talking to some reputable community members in North Minneapolis to be part of that purchase and buyout of Richard Shares. In doing so, it would allow community representation to be a part of the ownership of Thor Development and, in doing that, it would allow the community to be at a table as owners,” said Ravi Norma, CEO of Thor Companies.

A clear path to ownership as a means to build wealth is the call that stole the show Sunday. Now community members wait to hear from the Minneapolis City Councilors.

“Let’s do 48 acres and a school and use this Upper Harbor as an opportunity to advance it,” Chaney said. “And anyone who doesn’t stand for the rights of this community is not a friend of this community.