Last night, the Lyndale Neighborhood Association held a meeting at Painter Park to hear about the City’s plans for the former Kmart location on Nicollet and Lake and to hear from Simpson Housing about its temporary move to Zion Lutheran Church. The meeting room was filled with roughly 60 people. City Council President Andrea Jenkins was in attendance (Lyndale is in her ward).
Just in time for the neighborhood meeting, the city launched its New Nicollet Redevelopment page yesterday, dedicated to tracking the history, community engagement, and plans for the former Kmart site. Rebecca Parrell with the city’s Community Planning & Economic Development department told residents that there will be 2-3 years to give feedback on the plan. The current plan for the 10 acres includes a housing development with businesses operating on the first floor.
Street construction will start in 2025.
Parallel also shared that the Lyndale post office was supposed to reopen this past weekend. We will keep our eyes peeled for when the construction fences come down.
About a month ago, we reported that Simpson Housing was moving to Zion Lutheran Church as a temporary location. This was a quick move after an inspector told Simpson Housing that the boiler in its current building at 28th Street & 1st Avenue in Whittier was inoperable. Meaning, no heat this winter. Simpson Housing was planning to relocate during the construction of its new building at the Whittier location, but the boiler snafu expedited the need to move.
At the meeting last night, residents expressed frustration at not knowing about the project sooner. One resident kept shouting, “it’s a done deal folks.” Residents asked about the prospects of safety, trash outside the building, fencing in the entire lot, and sex offenders moving in.
Robert Hofmann of Simpson Housing explained that they welcome people in, not push them out. He also explained that what happens outside of Simpson Housing in Whittier does not reflect the residents. “We are facing [these challenges] with our neighbors,” Hofmann said. Guests of Simpson Housing sign “good neighbor agreements” and Hofmann said staff have deliberate conversations with everyone about what it means to be a good neighbor. Hofmann said Whittier neighbors have never called the police on Simpson Housing.
Simpson Housing plans to do daily trash removal inside and outside the building, as any other local business would. Right now, Simpson Housing plans to have only one entrance and exit on the north side of the building. Guest placements are arranged through Adult Shelter Connect and Simpson Housing does not house people registered on the sex offender list.
Staff from Simpson Housing asked residents to acknowledge the humanity of people going through homelessness.
“Our folks are resourceful and resilient,” Hofmann said. “Our folks are survivors.”
The Lyndale Neighborhood Association will discuss Simpson Housing’s move to Zion Lutheran Church again on October 18 during its crime & safety committee meeting.