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Catalyst For Inspired Revitalisation

Bank Sunrise Banks

It’s no secret that North Minneapolis has historically been one of the most challenged communities in Minnesota. For its residents, crime and economic hardship are common barriers to living happier, more successful lives.

Turning around neighborhoods like the North Side involves layers of complexity. Success factors include capital investment, politics, thoughtful planning, passionate advocacy, trust and hard work. Fortunately, these elements are now emerging on the North Side, along with real hope for long-term neighborhood revitalization.

Seeing the Need for Change
In 2004, Stuart Ackerberg, life-long Twin Cities resident and Metro Area real estate developer, was struck by the degree of disrepair he saw in the properties on the North Side. Since then, Ackerberg has invested significant amounts of time, money and real estate acumen into devising a plan and taking aggressive action to spark positive growth in the heart of North Minneapolis.

Trough his not-for-profit Catalyst Community Partners, Ackerberg has renovated an office building, a park, a church and three residential properties on and around West Broadway. Catalyst’s approach to renewal is unique in that it looks at how to best re-organize and change an entire neighborhood – from housing and arts and entertainment to fitness centers, main street offices and retail outlets. Once improvement takes hold, Catalyst engages private investors in the turnaround. ‘When private investors begin to see an area is worth taking a chance on, the market naturally starts to fuel success. That’s when Catalyst can move on to other areas in need,’ said Ackerberg.

Sunrise Funds Catalyst Endeavours

Early on, Catalyst targeted one of the toughest areas in North Minneapolis – Cottage Park.

The area was rampant with drug dealers, prostitution, crack houses and despair. ‘Franklin Bank, a Sunrise Community Bank, was courageous in funding this endeavour,’ Ackerberg said. ‘These types of projects are part of the bank’s DNA; they understand how important this work is to the community. Unlike many institutions, Sunrise has experience with these kinds of efforts, and they understand what it takes to be successful.’

Through its Socially Responsible Deposit Fund, Franklin Bank financed several residential property renovations in the park, along with the Garden of Gethsemane Church that overlooks the park. ‘When you see the magnificently restored church, you know it has to be part of this neighborhood. And, the formerly crime-ridden park across the street is now home to kids playing after school, not drug dealers,’ Ackerberg said.

5 Points Building to Become Star of North Side
Sunrise Community Banks currently is funding one of Catalyst’s most exciting projects to date – the renovation of the Delisi’s/5 Points Building, which is expected to be the signature of the five-corner West Broadway and Penn Avenue North intersection when completed in the summer of 2010. A spectacular reorientation will position the building entrance toward the vibrant five-corner intersection and will include an outdoor plaza. The building also will be the new home for KMOJ-FM radio (‘The Peoples Station’); include a patio space for first-floor restaurants; and feature transit stops complete with pedestrian- friendly public art by local artists.

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