Movement to preserve Prospect Park public housing sees pushback

City Council member Cam Gordon has nominated the Glendale Townhomes for historic designation.

The Glendale Townhome complex is a 184-unit public housing project owned by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and is the only public row-house development left in the U.S.

Jason Kopp

The Glendale Townhome complex is a 184-unit public housing project owned by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and is the only public row-house development left in the U.S.

Imani Cruzen

A motion to designate an affordable housing complex in Prospect Park as historic has been met with pushback from City of Minneapolis officials.

Glendale Townhomes, the oldest properties owned by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, were nominated for historic status by Ward 2 City Council member Cam Gordon after hearing residents’ concerns about displacement. 

Gordon plans to present his nomination to the Heritage Preservation Commission next month. 

Ladan Yusuf, campaign organizer for advocacy group Defend Glendale and Public Housing Coalition, said while the group supports the historic designation, she’s concerned Gordon and other City officials might not follow through with the effort.

“But it’s a great thing because Defend Glendale and [the] Public Housing Coalition [have] been fighting to have historical designation for years,” Yusuf said. 

For several years, Defend Glendale has expressed concerns that Glendale will be privatized and demolished, ending access to its affordable housing, Yusuf said.

“I don’t support privatization of public housing at all,” Gordon said. “And I believe that this nomination, and ultimately historic designation, would offer another layer of protection to preserve the Glendale homes.”

Despite the nomination, MPHA recommended the Heritage Preservation Commission not designate Glendale with historic preservation status. In a December 2017 letter to the commission, MPHA executive director Gregory Russ noted legal concerns caused by historic designation, which could prevent MPHA from meeting its contract requirements with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and interfere with updates to the building.

Jeff Horwich, MPHA director of policy and external affairs, said he understands the fear of losing Glendale as residents see new, high-rise housing come into the area. But he said MPHA plans to preserve Glendale’s affordable housing.

“The idea that Glendale is being sold is completely false,” Horwich said. 

Prospect Park Association board member Joe Ring said the neighborhood association supports preserving the property. 

“The community is very supportive of Glendale; the community is very supportive of its historic status,” Ring said. “I’m hopeful that the commissioners will understand and see because their charge is to try and identify and protect historic properties.”

Ring said he will support the motion when Gordon presents his plans to HPC on April 9. 

“The Glendale community is rock solid. They are great neighbors,” Ring said. “They bring forward the next generation of especially immigrants who become educated and become major contributors. That’s all I can say is, it’s the American story.”