LBA pulls together businesses to share needs, discuss damage

Posted on 25 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Businesses want to stay in neighborhood, many unknowns about insurance coverage and repair

Folks empty out the Glass Endeavors building on Friday morning, May 29, 2020. Although it survived the burning of the post office, staff were not sure it would survive another night. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Most businesses damaged around Minnehaha, E. Lake St. and 27th Ave. want to stay in the neighborhood, but they’re waiting to hear back from inspectors and insurance companies, they told the Longfellow Business Association during a ZOOM meeting on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
The initial estimate is that 31 buildings were completely destroyed in the unrest following George Floyd’s murder by a police officer on Monday, May 25, including three major grocery stores, and two pharmacies. Beyond that at least 49 other businesses sustained significant damage. Many are locally- and minority-owned.
“We are a small organization, but we focus on bringing together businesses for networking and information,” pointed out Kim Jakus. “I know there’s a lot of immediate action plans but we are really in it for the long haul.
“We are really going to have to work together. We are here to listen and invest.”
Jakus pointed out that other entities are also involved in local efforts, including the Lake Street Council, which set up a fund that has raised over $6 million, and the Longfellow Community Council. The LBA is asking itself how it differentiates itself and also how it can partner with other organizations. It has set up a fund and is raising money to help local businesses.

View towards the burnt out MIGIZI and Ghadhi Mahal on Friday, May 29. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

LV’s Barber Shop at 3006 27th Ave. S. wasn’t impacted as much as those around it, but owner Lamberto Vergara was still waiting to see if the building was stable after the fires at Minnehaha Lake Spirits and Wine and GM Tobacco and Super Vapor. He knew that, at minimum, the fire damage to the back wall would need to be repaired, but wasn’t sure if the entire building would end up being condemned.
His shop had been closed since May 18 due to COVID-19. Along with his six barbers, “We’re just kinda hanging in there, trying to see what’s going to happen,” said Vergara. “I’d like to stay in the neighborhood. The faster we rebuild, the faster I can go to work.”
John Gwinn of the non-profit MIGIZI, said they had planned to offer summer programming for Native American youth in their new facility which had opened last summer after an extensive renovation project, and had already restructured things due to COVID-19. Now that fire has destroyed their building, they are looking for a temporary space to run the programs. “Hopefully we can find some space and have some jobs for our youth,” said Gwinn.
He was grateful for people’s generosity and the donations they have received.
A small shell of Town Talk Dinner at 2707 E. Lake St. remained standing as of June 3, but was knocked down later in the week when the entire El Nuevo Rodeo/Oddfellows building was leveled. Town Talk Diner owners Kacey White and Charles Stotts said they were in the process of creating a list of everything that had been in their building for the insurance company, going room by room. “It’s so much work to get done before we contemplate the next step,” observed Charles.
He aded, “We really love being part of the Longfellow neighborhood. Hopefully we can figure out how to be a part of the rebuilding.”

View towards the burnt out MIGIZI and Ghadhi Mahal on Friday, May 29. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

KB Balla was close to opening his sports bar, Scores, on the far east side of the El Nuevo Rodeo building (2713 E. Lake St.), and celebrating his grand opening.
“It’s been kind of surreal,” said Balla. He is one of the Black business owners affected by the protests and works as a firefighter in Brooklyn Center. “I can’t tell you what the plan will be. I’d love to say that we’ll stay in the community. Right now we don’t know how long it will take to rebuild,” said Balla.
Until then, he’s hoping to figure out how to help others.
Minnehaha Lake Wine and Spirits, directly across from the Third Precinct at 2613 E, Lake St., was looted, vandalized and burned down. Like Town Talk, owners Jason Krause and Steve Krause said they were still focused on the immediate needs.
They are also evaluating a potential temporary location site.
“This is pretty devastating,” said Krause. He pointed out that many of their staff have worked there for 10-15 years. To help those out of work, they started a GoFundMe. It raised $9,000 in less than 24 hours.
Steve pointed out that he learned it was the responsibility of the property owners themselves to demolish their sites and make them safe, and the line item from their insurance company for this item was pretty small. They don’t know yet what requirements might be for environmental clean-up.
“Every hour there’s a new issue that comes up,” said Steve.

View towards the burnt out MIGIZI and Ghadhi Mahal on Friday, May 29. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Coliseum building damage
Across the street at the Coliseum Building at 2700 E. Lake St., numerous small organizations including the FATHER Project and Seward Longfellow Restorative Justice were affected.
Created 20 years ago, The FATHER Project has been located at the Coliseum building for the last 10. There was considerable smoke and water damage to their space, according to program manager Guy Bowling.
The FATHER (Fostering Actions To Help Earnings and Responsibility) Project became a program of Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota in 2004. Since then, the FATHER Project has served thousands of fathers through an extensive network of community partners. The program offers: case management, parenting support, child support services, employment services, and GED tutoring.
“The resources we provide are part of a systems change,” observed Bowling.
Also located in the Coliseum, Literacy Minnesota is looking for a new space, according to Kristin Collins, just like so many others.

Members of the National Guard rest in the entryway of the looted U.S. Bank building at 2800 E. Lake St. a few hours after they were called into the area. The Guard blocked off sections of the most heavily damaged for most of the day, and then opened it back up Friday evening, when more structures were damaged. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The Seward Longfellow Restorative Justice program in the Coliseum Building was able to salvage all of the things most important to their program, according to Michele Braley. Staff have been working from home due to COVID-19 and will start looking for a space, as well.
Businesses not as heavily damaged have offered up space that could be used for programming, future relief efforts, and more, including: Hook & Ladder, The Lift Garage, Tapestry Folkdance (large meeting room), Kennedy & Cain (conference room space), pointed out Jakus.

Wellington properties
Casey Dzieweczynski of Wellington Group reported that the ALDI in the former Rainbow space will be cleaned up and reopen in about two months.
There was a little damage to the charter school on the back side of the building, but the classrooms were all fine.
The Wendy’s was burned down, as was the affordable living apartment building under construction in the parking lot. “That was heartbreaking,” said Dzieweczynski, who is the project manager. It will be rebuilt, although they’re not sure if the foundation will be salvageable.
On the west side of Hiawatha, portions of the Hi-Lake Shopping were burned to the ground, but there was minimal damage to the ALDI there, and it reopened in early June. The condo building above was fine. The Lake Street Station apartments and the low-income seniors that reside there, lost power on Thursday and were evacuated on Friday night. They returned on Sunday.
“We’re glad to be part of this neighborhood,” said Dzieweczynski.

‘A long road ahead’
A fire was set at one of the area’s oldest buildings, the Schooner Tavern (2901 27th Ave. S.), according to Wendy Kremer, but it was put out. There was also looting and vandalism. Thankfully, none of the 20 tenants were hurt. The building was still without power as of the meeting on June 3. They don’t yet know what will be involved to get the building fixed.
“We’ve got a long road ahead,” said Kremer.

Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits on June 12. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Schubert and Hoey (2747 26th Ave. S.) outdoor advertising was first broken into and later damaged by fire, according to Mike Hylandsson. They were dealing with a broken water pipe that was still running, unable to shut it off inside because it was too dangerous. They were also trying to figure out how to get their mail. The suggestion was made that businesses get a PO box at a neighboring post office as a temporary solution.
Despite its location to the south of the Third Precinct, the Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge (3010 Minnehaha Ave.) had minor damage, according to Jesse Brodd and Chris Mozena. As they haven’t been able to hold any shows, the performance venue is in a state of transition, and looking for ways to support the community.

Minnehaha Lake Wine and Spirits with the Hook and Ladder and the Third Precinct on June 12. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The Hub Bicycle Shop wasn’t damaged by fire, but some bicycles there for repair were stolen, according to Lisa Olson. They anticipate that insurance will help them replace the items.
Tony Kersey of Boker’s (3104 Snelling Ave.) reported their buildings were fine, but they have a larger concern around the issue of neighborhood safety and the need for law enforcement.
Cathy Heying of the Lift Garage (2401 E. Lake St.) reported that although the Arby’s 10 feet away burned down, their building was still standing. The non-profit repair center hopes to offer space as needed in the community as they can.
“My heart goes out to everyone on this call,” observed Chris Romano of Seward ReDesign. He pointed out that the non-profit has services that will benefit businesses. “Hang in there. They’re a lot of support around you.”

The view of the Coliseum building on June 12. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Healthy Seniors lose space at U.S. Bank
The Longfellow Seward Healthy Seniors office has been located at the U.S. Bank (2800 E. Lake St.) for over 20 years. The office was significantly damaged.
From Mary Albrecht: “We are awaiting our insurance adjuster to come in. We don’t have direct access into the bank and our office since the rioting and looting occurred. One laptop was stolen and several monitors were destroyed by looters. We will have to hire a mitigation service to clean up our office because there’s broken glass all over, soot and smoke damage. It’s not safe for our staff or volunteers to try to deal with on their own. The day after the first night of looting two of our staff who live close by were permitted access into our office and were able to bring out our desk top computers (CPUs) and set them up in their homes. We did not have any data breach since the desktop computers were not stolen. Those staff are now working out of their homes. I am temporarily working out of the Southeast Seniors office (a program similar to ours) located on University Ave. in Minneapolis. It may be quite some time before the bank will reopen.

Where the Walgreens on East Lake used to stand as of June 12. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“Longfellow/Seward Healthy Seniors provides many services to help area seniors live healthy, independent and socially connected lives. We serve 600+ seniors and caregivers annually. Right now the biggest needs of our clients are getting groceries and prescriptions. Due to damage incurred from the rioting and looting, Target, Cub, ALDI and Walgreens are closed. Our neighborhood has suddenly become a food and pharmacy desert. Local seniors, many of whom don’t have their own transportation, are having a harder time getting groceries and prescriptions. Our staff and volunteers are doing grocery shopping and delivery for our clients, and are delivering food from local food shelves as well. We recently got a Hunger Solutions grant for food distribution and delivery to lower-income seniors. We plan on distributing perishable foods such as meat, dairy and fresh produce to eligible seniors soon. We’re always looking for more volunteers to help us in our work. Our temporary phone number is 763-458-0484.

What remained of GM Tobacco on June 12. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“Now, more than ever, we need the community’s support. We’re asking for financial support from individuals, organizations, businesses, churches and community groups. Donations can be sent to our temporary mailing address at P.O. Box 17133, Minneapolis, MN 55417 or by donating online through our website: LShealthyseniors.org (click the ‘Donate’ tab.)”