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Nonprofit developer files for Chapter 11

By Burl Gilyard
Dolan Media Newswires

Minneapolis — Minneapolis-based nonprofit developer Great Neighborhoods! Development Corp. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The nonprofit, formerly known as the American Indian Neighborhood Development Corp., cited holding costs related to sites it owns in north Minneapolis where its redevelopment efforts have stalled.

Great Neighborhoods built its reputation for helping to revitalize a commercial stretch of properties along Franklin Avenue in south Minneapolis. A few years ago, the organization turned its attention to the city’s north side, with plans for an ambitious redevelopment project that was to be anchored by a YWCA fitness club.

A 2008 city report outlined the proposed Broadway Plaza project as a $70 million project.

Tax records show that the nonprofit paid about $7 million for nine parcels of land around West Broadway Avenue and Aldrich Avenue North.

Great Neighborhoods CEO Theresa Carr could not be reached for comment.

Will Tansey, an attorney representing the nonprofit, said the filing took place Monday afternoon, in part to stave off two foreclosure sales that had been scheduled for Tuesday morning. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection allows for reorganization.

The city of Minneapolis has provided financial support over the years to the nonprofit, whose projects often have dovetailed with city’s redevelopment goals. In 2008, the city approved $568,000 toward the Broadway project: a $432,000 forgivable loan from its Great Streets program and a $136,000 Empowerment Zone loan.

On Tuesday afternoon, the city issued a brief statement attributed to Mike Christenson, director of the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development Department: “The city is aware of the Great Neighborhoods Development Corporationís bankruptcy filing and is assessing the situation. City staff will be following this closely and acting to protect city financial investments in the GNDC properties on both Franklin and West Broadway avenues, as well as to protect the public interest in stable, vibrant commercial districts.”

Great Neighborhoods paid $3 million for the site at 800 W. Broadway Ave. in December 2007. In July 2006, the group paid $685,000 for 718 W. Broadway Ave.

The Broadway Plaza development called for a commercial project anchored by a YWCA club.

Today, the nonprofit is behind on taxes. Great Neighborhoods owes more than $52,000 on 800 W. Broadway Ave. and more than $10,000 on 718 W. Broadway Ave.

YWCA of Minneapolis was committed to being an anchor tenant in the project, but last fall, the group’s board voted to end the agreement.

“There were specific conditions in the lease agreement that were not met,” said Mary Jones, chief advancement officer for YWCA of Minneapolis.

Great Neighborhoods was listed as “withdrawn” by the Minnesota Attorney General’s office in November 2009 for not filing the appropriate financial reports with the state. The nonprofit had previously been withdrawn by the state in 2008, but was later reinstated.

The nonprofit’s south Minneapolis holdings include the Ancient Trader’s Market building at 1113 Franklin Ave. E.

“I was aware that they were having some financial difficulties,” said Council Member Diane Hofstede, whose 3rd Ward includes the West Broadway site.

Hofstede pointed to recent decision by the Minneapolis Public Schools to build a new administrative headquarters along West Broadway as a boost for the area.

“I’m really interested in seeing that area become developed,” she said.

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