The proposed mini-mall is part of a greater vision for an "African village" in Cedar-Riverside, but neighbors say community engagement has been lacking.
Local officials rolled out a vision for an “African village” in Cedar-Riverside last month, but not all neighborhood residents agree the project is best for the community.
Ward 6 city council member Abdi Warsame, who represents the neighborhood, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced plans in late June to erect a Cedar-Riverside public market that would further a vision for an African village.
But some community members said the announcement came as a surprise. Local community group Somali Mothers of MN held a protest Sunday to rebuke the proposed project’s lack of community engagement and express concern about its potential effects on the dense neighborhood, such as impacts on crime and parking.
"The community didn't even know before," said Fartun Del, a founder of Somali Mothers of MN. "And knowing that, that nobody engaged [the community], brings them more suspicion and more anger."
The proposed market is located on "Lot A," a city-owned parking lot nestled against the Green Line light rail, across from Mixed Blood Theatre on Fourth Street South. Lot A rests less than a block from the namesake crossroads of Cedar Avenue and Riverside Avenue. The community has discussed development of Lot A for years.
“The African village concept is not just a market,” Warsame said. “Africa village concept is the people that live there. It's the people that live in the towers, it's the African immigrants, the culture, the languages.”
Warsame compared his vision to Chinatown or Little Italy in other cities. The market would support young African entrepreneurs, especially women of color, and create a regional destination, Warsame said.
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