MINNEAPOLIS - The West Broadway Business and Area Coalition (WBC) intends to remake the image of North Minneapolis by remaking its substance. The WBC has dozens of member businesses along the busy West Broadway corridor.
The WBC wrapped a vacant, four story building in a vinyl mural to dramatize its availability. The mural consists of dozens of blown-up photographs of WBC businesses and residents.
"We are trying to call attention to it, so, people might think what could be there," explained Shaina Brassard, WBC Marketing and Communications Coordinator. "Like what sort of development could be there on this bustling corner."
Brassard said the building could either be rehabbed or torn down for other use of the property. There is a new energy along the area, long defined by police sirens and abandoned homes.
"One of the things we are proudest about is the over $350,000 that we have given out this year alone in façade improvement grants," said Jackie Cherryhomes, WBC Chair. The funding is a partnership of the McKnight Foundation and the City of Minneapolis, providing matching funds to area businesses.
One of the examples of improvement is the new façade of the 4th Street Saloon near the I-94 approach to West Broadway. The Saloon features a new awning, brickwork and paint job.
Cherryhomes credited Juxtaposition Arts on Emerson and Broadway with revitalizing an often troubled corner. The most public transformation is the new Umomi by Travail restaurant.
The 45-seat eatery took just two weeks to remake the space formerly occupied by a Louisiana Chicken fast food outlet.
Umomi is the biggest "pop-up" restaurant this year by the chefs and owners of the famous Travail restaurant in Robbinsdale.
Travail closed in April and intends to reopen elsewhere in Robbinsdale. In the meantime, co-owner Mike Brown is supervising Umomi's asian-influenced menu.
"I think that the menu is a killer right now and I think that people are really going to dig it," said Brown. "It does definitely have potential to be something that is long term."
The WBC is hoping that Brown is right. The restaurant's reservations are sold out for the first two weeks after Umomi opened on Wednesday. The loyal fan base of Travail is expected to make the trek to North Minneapolis, which the WBC hopes they will see in a different way than the area's often troubled image.
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