Details about the co-op’s potential reopening emerged more publicly this month, after the Minneapolis City Council last week approved new licensing restrictions. According to a city spokesperson, the co-op has paid the license renewal fee but cannot welcome tenants until it obtains the proper permits and passes inspection.
The student co-op, a longtime provider of affordable housing and shared living space, is not technically located on university property or affiliated with the school. However, the building is located in the middle of Fraternity Row and has become a major source of concern in the past year among university leaders, parents and students due to a series of violent incidents. One of the videos taken by neighbors showed a large fight extending to University Street; In another case, a 15-year-old was shot.
Tate Machashek, who lives in a fraternity house on University Avenue, said he was surprised the co-op was trying to reopen so quickly.
“I feel like we haven’t had enough time to process what happened last year or recover from what happened last year. There’s a lot going on. We don’t really like it, that’s for sure,” Macacek said. “In that one-year period, where all this undesirable stuff was happening, guys were afraid to go out; guys were afraid to walk into the Rec.”
Cooperative leaders blame last year’s violence on the pandemic. After students moved out, they say new occupants without leases began moving in, many of whom “faced histories of housing insecurity and were marginalized by interlocking systems of systemic racism and economic inequality.” While the newly created Alumni Council helped move some occupants into alternative housing, they say they ultimately began eviction proceedings that will last until early June 2022.
According to documents posted on the co-op’s website, any new tenant this year will need to sign a lease pledging not to engage in “acts of violence” including “unlawful use of firearms, prostitution, criminal street gang activities,” and “intimidation.”
Under new terms approved by the Minneapolis City Council, the co-op must conduct criminal background checks on tenants and will undergo a security review from MPD. Furthermore, 75 percent of the co-op’s tenants must be college students, and no one without a lease will be able to live in the property for more than one week per month.
James Farnsworth, a member of the University of Minnesota’s board of trustees, said in an interview that he hopes the new rules will help reduce violence.
“I think what happened last year was completely unacceptable, not only to the immediate surrounding neighbors but to the entire campus community,” Farnsworth said. “I know from informal conversation that there have been alumni of the co-op who have been active in trying to right the ship…I just hope they are very focused on safety and security.”
Myron France, the university’s senior vice chancellor for finance and assault, told the Board of Trustees last week that University of Minnesota Police “have paid close attention to the progress of the property as it has been under construction and are on alert for any potential issues.” That may come.” Although UMPD plays an auxiliary role in the neighborhoods surrounding campus, the Minneapolis Police Department has primary jurisdiction over co-op properties.
The timeline for reopening the co-op is unclear. Thursday afternoon, crews could be seen renovating the back of the property, and a large plaque still covered the co-op’s front door.
Despite strict regulations passed by the City Council, neighbors like Tate Machek remain skeptical about the building.
“I feel like everyone in this dispute has these conditions, and the fact that they didn’t follow them when everyone else did last year, I don’t know why I think they would do it again,” Macacek said.
However, he is willing to give the cooperative a second chance.
“We have already had one meeting with the cooperative, we are neighbors. I think we need to continue this dialogue,” Macacek said. “Hopefully the new people moving here will do much better. They don’t really have a choice.”
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