Neighborhood group moves forward with Roof Depot purchase

The City of Minneapolis announced Thursday it had accepted a pledge from a neighborhood group looking to purchase the Roof Depot site.

The move will block plans to turn the depot into a city public works campus. The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) has promised to put forward $3.7 million towards the purchase of the site.

If you're unfamiliar with the issue, the city planned to build a water treatment facility at the Roof Depot building off Hiawatha Avenue. However, some neighbors raised concerns about the planned facility, worrying about the health impacts that work on the site could cause, particularly if construction unearthed arsenic-contaminated soil at the site.

In September, the city approved the framework for a potential sale of the property to the EPNI, which plans to turn it into an urban farm. Under that deal, the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute had to raise $3.7 million to pair with state funds to complete the $11.4 million deal.

Roof Depot Urban Farm renderings 2/6 (Supplied)

Earlier this year, the Minnesota legislature approved $2 million to go towards a deposit on the sale. If the EPNI could raise its portion of the money, lawmakers promised to put up the remainder of the funds for the site, $5.7 million, during next year's legislative session. Wednesday was the deadline for the EPNI to commit the money to Minneapolis.

However, in a release on Thursday, the city said it was still waiting for the initial $2 million "good-faith" deposit from the state.

If the state provides those funds and approves the remaining $5.7 million next year, the city plans to close the Roof Depot sale in July 2024.

In the meantime, the city is searching for a new site for the city's water supply facility. The city has said the new, centralized facility will help the city improve the quality of its water for residents citywide.

As for the urban farm, the EPNI will need to raise another $10 million to pay for renovations and to move forward with that project.