St. Anthony: New Juxtaposition Arts complex will enhance economic, cultural development in Mpls.

Several of the $125 million-plus in commercial and residential projects planned for the main commercial artery on the North Side of Minneapolis are underway.

Two of them will illuminate the artistic and economic future of W. Broadway Avenue.

Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA), which started as a North High after-school arts program nearly 30 years ago, will break ground Sept. 17 on a $12.9 million campus, replacing two ramshackle buildings at W. Broadway and N. Emerson Avenue.

"This facility, a 16,000-square-foot, three-and-a-half-story building, will physically change the environment on this end of West Broadway," Managing Director Gabrielle Greer said last week.

She added that it will "change the way people think about north Minneapolis and the importance of us as a Black-owned organization that supports young people and connects to an entrepreneurial spirit that is JXTA's 26-year legacy."

The stunning building, designed by 4RM+ULA Architects, will be an expanded hub for hundreds of youth through its 12-week visual arts literacy training and apprenticeships. JXTA employs 100-plus young and adult artists and staff, and it attracts thousands annually to its shows and related events.

Investors include the McKnight Foundation, Pohlad Family Foundation, U.S. Bank, the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and hundreds of individuals.

JXTA was founded in 1995 by Roger and DeAnna Cummings, who moved in 2020 to the McKnight Foundation.

Roger Cummings, JXTA's chief cultural producer, said the $12.9 million capital, along with a companion $5 million "legacy campaign" for expanded programming and a reserve fund, cemented the aspiration "to become the only people-of-color-led arts organization in the state that owns its buildings. To have nearly reached our goal in three years, amid a global pandemic, is humbling."

A popular skate park on Broadway, which replaced a dilapidated JXTA building a few years ago, is staying. Anotherbuilding that once housed Urban Homeworks on Emerson will house community space and introductory level art-and-design courses.

A few blocks away, the Capri Theater, which has been closed since June 2019, has undergone a $12.9 million overhaul and expansion that will stage a grand opening week starting Oct. 3. There will be live concerts, films and festivities that week.

The born-again Capri boasts two stages, a reception and exhibit area, kitchen facilities for catering by local eateries, and more to serve patrons and students, including its after-school theater program for teens from next-door Plymouth Christian Youth Center (PCYC), which owns the Capri. Improvements also include a Best Buy Teen Tech Center.

Built in 1927, the Capri is the last of 13 theaters that once graced the North Side. Photos of a young Prince performing his first gig as a solo artist are on display.

"Our plan, at least before COVID, was to operate five days a week 48 weeks a year, including community meetings to theatrical productions, concerts and serving students from PCYC through student apprenticeships who help us operate, and our after-school theater program," said James Scott, director of the Capri and who once managed the Guthrie Theater.

He said the Capri has capacity for 400 people between the two theaters and aims to attract 8,000 people in its opening week.

"North Minneapolis deserves that with the amenities that have been missing for too long, and that can be a catalyst for the redevelopment that's just on the cusp on this West Broadway corridor," Scott added. "There used to be so many businesses on this block in the 1950s and 1960s, It was a destination corridor. We are starting to come back."

Sherman Associates this summer began construction of the Beam, a 92-unit apartment building and townhouses of up to thee bedrooms targeted at people who earn up to 80% of the Twin Cities household median income.

The $35 million project, at Irving and W. Broadway on what was vacant land that spans several blocks, includes $17 million in proceeds from a tax-exempt housing bond sale. The Beam will provide needed housing at affordable prices. Veteran developer Sherman has agreed to defer its $1.5 million developer fee until the project is working financially.

Beam is the latest of several housing projects in the area aimed at working-class people, including a couple of complexes developed by Devean George, the former Augsburg University and NBA basketball player who grew up on the North Side.

This is concrete progress for a North Side that gets more headlines for strife and crime that belies the everyday work of good citizens, businesses and nonprofit partners. And the Twin Cities area won't fully succeed until the North Side, with relatively high unemployment and low incomes, fully participates in growth of the economic pie. SOURCE: Star Tribune AUTHOR: Neal St. Anthony