Grain elevator rescue shines spotlight on revitalization of industrial Minneapolis neighborhood

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A mock-up of the proposed Malcolm Yards Market building.

Minneapolis firefighters rescued a man who fell 20 feet into a void space at the abandoned Del Mar IV grain elevator in Minneapolis early Monday morning. 

Crews began a search and rescued him by lowering a ladder into the space. The man only suffered a minor ankle injury.

The incident is shining a light on the abandoned industrial buildings in the area between University Avenue and the railroad tracks just east of the University of Minnesota, especially after Surly Brewery moved in--bringing with it increased traffic and scrutiny from the outside world.

Now, a developer is working to turn the old Harris Machinery building into a giant food hall called Malcolm Yards Market, adding to a larger plan that would turn the 20-acre plot into an "urban hangout"--complete with office buildings, apartments, a climbing wall and a city park. The entire project is expected to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $6 million and is slated to open in the fall of 2018.

"We do have some challenges with what to do with our old grain elevators," Minneapolis Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon said. "They are dangerous when they are not being used and it's hard to keep them safe forever."

City officials and residents alike are trying to toe the line between keeping the industrial buildings in the area, which many consider as landmarks, and bringing new investment and growth to the neighborhood. 

Nearly 1,700 apartments are slated for construction in the next few years, with city leaders saying the location is ideal due to its proximity to both light rail lines and the University of Minnesota.

"It's going to see a lot of development over the next 10 to 20 years," Gordon said. "We are going to try to make sure that works not only for future residents and workers, but also current residents who are there too."