U pulls tenancy from north Minneapolis center

A Wednesday announcement that the University would not be involved with a planned health center in north Minneapolis left parties struggling to come to terms. Citing financial reasons, the University announced its intent to not proceed with plans to be a part of the North Minneapolis Child and Family Service Center, which was a joint partnership between the University, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center and Hennepin County. Stella Whitney-West, CEO of NorthPoint, said she understood why the University would pull out of the project. âÄúWeâÄôre disappointed,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs understandable in this time that there are fiscal constraints. WeâÄôre operating in the same economic climate.âÄù The center was three years in the making, and would have featured a research center for University professor Dante Cicchetti. The space was to be shared by the University, YMCA, NorthPoint and Hennepin County, Whitney-West said. But financial constraints forced the University to revise its plans, Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration Robert Jones said. âÄúThe costs were much higher than what we expected and much more than one should reasonably expect a public institution to try to pay,âÄù he said, although he wouldnâÄôt wager a guess at how much the University would have had to pay. Cicchetti, whose research looks into out-of-home placement for families and children, was unavailable for comment, but Jones said the University is looking into alternatives for his research. Whitney-West said the University was not involved in the original plans for the center; a separate building was planned for Cicchetti. Despite the UniversityâÄôs absence, Whitney-West said planning for the center will continue, beginning with a meeting Thursday night to discuss the projectâÄôs future. âÄúWe will go back and look at where we are at and continue to go forward,âÄù she said. âÄúWeâÄôve made too much investment of time and money into this project to let that just sit. WeâÄôre committed to making it work.âÄù When the University signed on, it signified a major initiative for north Minneapolis, Ward 5 Councilman Don Samuels said. âÄúIt was a project that was mentioned in every conversation about the future of the north side to give people a sense of hope,âÄù he said. With the University pulling out of the center, community leaders still hope for support from the University in the region. âÄúIâÄôm hoping that the absence of the âÄòUâÄô from that specific project will not mean its absence from the north side,âÄù Samuels said. Jones said the University remains committed to north Minneapolis, citing the Urban Research and Outreach/ Engagement Center , which is on schedule to take over a remolded shopping center in the neighborhood in summer of 2009. The $4.4 million project would act like University research centers in rural parts of the state, studying issues that are pertinent to the urban community, Jones said. The program is an initiative sponsored primarily by the University, with many community partners, such as NorthPoint, Jones said. âÄúI hope that will come to the fruition,âÄù Whitney-West said. âÄúBut this project here was the major project. This one was the flagship.âÄù Jones said the University will still have a presence in the community. âÄúWeâÄôre not pulling out of north Minneapolis,âÄù he said. âÄúWe remain very much committed to that community. WeâÄôre not pulling out.âÄù