Neighborhood Development Center, a St. Paul real estate firm with a 30-year record of reviving inner-city commercial corridors, on Monday acquired a corner lot at Chicago Avenue and E. Lake Street, the site of a two-story building destroyed by arson in the riots after the killing of George Floyd last May.
NDC and the former owner agreed to a sale price of $1.6 million, Mike Temali, chief executive of NDC, said. That's more than the tax-assessed price but less than at least one other offer for the property.
NDC will begin talking with neighbors and community groups "who we've worked with for 30 years and get input on what they would like to see," Temali said.
He said NDC will likely build a multistory commercial complex on the site that may include affordable housing.
The project would entail development and construction costs of $15 million to $30 million depending upon its size. Construction would start in 2022, following stakeholder input, including the city, as well as design and financial arrangements.
NDC is a nonprofit business that managed and was a co-owner of the 20-year-old Mercado Central, at Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue, until 2019 when it sold its stake to the merchant cooperative that operates the market.
NDC also is the developer and co-owner of the Midtown Global Market, the retail face of the $190 million, 2006 renovation of the former Sears complex on E. Lake into Midtown Exchange. That project is anchored by headquarters for 1,800 Allina Health workers.
"This is an interesting location, next to the Midtown Global Market," Temali said. "It gives us an opportunity to build on the global market, the local diversity, the cultural businesses, and potentially expand the brand of the Global Market. It's really important, in my view, to use these high-traffic corners to demonstrate to the world how vibrant are these communities.
"We want a lot of community entrepreneurs to make a living, feature their products and services, and build some wealth," he said.
NDC is the first local Lake Street developer or building owner to tap a $30 million fund put together by Twin Cities LISC (Local Initiatives Support Coalition) and funding partners, including Hennepin County, JPMorgan Chase, foundations and others. The fund is designed to help local lenders and community organizations get control of key properties that were damaged or destroyed last May.
Temali said the former owner of the corner lot NDC is buying turned down a better offer from a private developer because he wanted to sell to a community developer. The former owner declined an interview request.
NDC also is working with the owner of an adjacent lot, which has been the site of Chicago Furniture Warehouse, which was also burned down in the rioting that went on for several nights after Floyd's death last May 25.
Across Chicago Avenue, the site of the shuttered and demolished Roberts Shoe Store, is owned by the Midtown Exchange-based Graves Foundation. It has yet to announce plans.
Last month, Wells Fargo and housing developer-manager Project for Pride in Living (PPL) announced plans to rebuild the demolished Wells Fargo branch at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue, as well as $50 million-plus in housing on what was once mostly a parking lot for the branch office.