At Wells Fargo site destroyed in riots, construction finally underway on affordable housing complex


Damaris Hollingsworth

By Dee DePass Star Tribune

A much-lauded $66 million complex with much-needed affordable housing, a park and business hub is finally being built on the site of the Wells Fargo branch that rioters set on fire in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd.

Construction work began Tuesday, with backhoes busting up the parking lot and concrete curbs. A formal groundbreaking will take place Thursday with business and government officials who are hungry for more signs of progress in the challenged Lake Street corridor worst-hit during the riots.

The project, led by housing nonprofit Project for Pride in Living (PPL), is expected to be a game-changer for the city.

“This is really exciting. We need the affordable housing and needed to replace a massive empty parking lot with increased density,” said Lake Street Council Executive Director Allison Sharkey. “PPL is really taking on that risk of development [after] Wells Fargo made a decision really early on that they were going to do right by the community by not just replacing a bank with a bank. They have added so much more.”

After four years of planning and complicated fundraising, the six-story Opportunity Crossing will rise over 19 months, promising hundreds of construction jobs and becoming the largest rehabilitation project on Lake Street since the riots.

The 132,000-square-foot building will offer a blend of 110 affordable, one- to four-bedroom apartments, a Wells Fargo branch with a drive-thru, underground parking, plus four “commercial condos” that will be owned by entrepreneurs of color.

The site is at Lake and Nicollet by the old Kmart site and near the epicenter of the riots. The project adds to other signs of progress in the area such as the rebuilt Highland Plaza Shopping Center across the street and the lot ready for development where the Kmart once stood.