By Kenzie O'Keefe | Editor
On February 28 the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) unanimously voted to recommend that the Minneapolis City Council designate the Homewood neighborhood in North Minneapolis as a historic district.
This action was taken despite objections from many residents who say that designation will inflict undue financial burden on them, potentially making home repairs more expensive and spurring gentrification which may displace current residents. Some have also criticized the study process, which they say has not adequately engaged residents in decision-making.
Former City Council President and Homewood resident Jackie Cherryhomes was among those who spoke out against designation at the public hearing prior to the HPC vote. “We acknowledge that the neighborhood is historic, but the historicity of our neighborhood is not necessarily about the structures. Those are important, but it’s about the people,” she said. She says she is worried about the economic disincentives that may be created by historic designation.
Those in favor of historic designation see it as an opportunity to commemorate Homewood’s history and preserve its character amidst upcoming business and transit development in the area.
Ward 5 City Council Member for Ward 5 (which includes Homewood), Blong Yang, has requested that the City Council be given additional time – up to 6 months – to review the study and explore potential financial incentives for homeowners before voting on designation. John Smoley who led the study for the city says the HPC will vote on whether or not to extend interim protection for the area to accommodate his request at their next meeting on March 14. If they grant the additional time, Smoley says the City Council “will wait” to vote.
Smoley says he will continue working with residents to envision design guidelines for potential designation, which includes the entire exteriors but not interiors of the 254 properties listed in the study.
Read the full study here.