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Uncertain futures

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By JANE McCLURE

Firefighters were still working at the back of the Sports Dome on Friday, May 29. Over 170 businesses were damaged in the Midway following the murder of George Floyd. (Photos by Tesha M. Christensen)

Midway area business continue to sort out their futures in the wake of late May 2020 unrest after George Floyd was killed. While many business have reopened and others are pulling construction permits, some still face an uncertain future. That’s especially true for small business that leased storefronts and didn’t own their spaces.
Bole Ethiopian Cuisine and Lloyd’s Pharmacy are two of the highest-profile businesses that were destroyed. Lloyd’s has opened an interim location at 694 Snelling Ave. N., while Bole seeks a new home. Both had successful fundraising campaigns.
But it’s a different story for the Midway Center tenants. They are being forced to move out, receiving word June 25 that their leases were terminated. About a dozen business remain in what originally was the eastern part of the shopping center. A letter from property owner Rick Birdoff and RK Midway said that businesses must have items out of their stores by July 17.
The letter indicated that there may be opportunities for businesses as the Midway Center block is redeveloped, but whether business owners can wait months if not years to reopen is a question mark.
City fire officials in June revoked the occupancy permits for the shopping center. When the St. Paul City Council voted in June to make changes to Midway Center’s tax increment financing plans, demolition plans hadn’t been finalized.
The lease terminations affect longtime businesses including Golden Gate Café and Peking Garden. Golden Gate had been in business for about 40 years. Peking Garden had relocated to the strip mall in 2005, after losing its previous location near the University of Minnesota.
Businesses sustained varying levels of damage. Foot Locker and its immediate neighbors sustained the most damage due to fire and water damage, with businesses at the north and south end of the center only sustaining smoke damage.
Businesses had remained closed since late May. MidPointe Center had canceled all events. Family Dollar had moved some employees to other locations. Bank of America, which had small storefront with ATMs, was already preparing to open at University Ave. and Fry St.
Other area businesses have slowly reopened or prepared to reopen. What could become controversial is that Taco Bell at 565 N. Snelling Ave. is seeking approval to replace its building, which was damaged during the unrest.
The longtime restaurant needs a new conditional use permit before that can happen. The St. Paul Planning Commission Zoning Committee is to hear the request at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16. Meetings can be listened to virtually and the public can present oral or written testimony.
This will be the second time in a year that restaurant owner Border Foods has sought permission to build a new facility. Hamline Midway Coalition and city staff recommended against the request in early 2020, and it was withdrawn by the applicant.
Neighbors raised concerns about ongoing noise and patron behavior.

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Ax-Man Surplus reopens in Midway

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Ax-Man has reopened for business at 1639 W. University. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

It’s been a tough few months for Ax-Man Surplus, but the longtime University Ave. business is back up and running.
“We’re excited to be reopen,” said Ax-Man Surplus Store owner Jim Segal. “We’re seeing familiar faces coming back. The boards are coming off.”
He added, “Hopefully people come back to the Midway. Folks may have some negative feelings about the area – until they come and see everything is good. We’ve got great neighborbors. It’s a really diverse mix of businesses. Our business and a number of businesses that are unique draw folks to the area.”

‘A painful stretch’
Ax-Man Surplus was birthed in downtown St. Paul in 1965 when Jess Lieberman bought some second-quality items and sold them in his father’s tailor shop. It took off, and he kept selling salvage deals for cheap. David Gray started working for his relative at Ax-Man when he was in college in the early 1970s. He was a real creative type, recalled Segal, and earned equity ownership in the business. When Lieberman died in 1994, Gray bought out the rest from the estate.
Segal bought Ax-Man 20 years ago. Today, there are three locations, with the others in St. Louis Park and Fridley. Segal has roots in Highland Park, where his mom grew up and where he previously owned the GNC health food store. He lives in the western suburbs where he was raised.
Segal was working in the office at 1639 University Ave. W. on Thursday, May 28 when looters came in and began damaging the store. The 53-year-old stayed locked in a bathroom until police responded and got him out of there.
“The police said there was nothing they could do to protet the facility, so I left,” recalled Segal. “I came back later in the evening and it was pandemonium.”
The store wasn’t boarded up until Friday.
“It’s taken about a month to get things back together,” said Segal. The damage amounted to $150,000. He’s hopeful it will be covered by insurance. However, some of the inventory was unique and will be challenging to replace.
The past few months have been “a bit of a painful stretch,” said Segal.
Ax-Man Surplus closed on Friday, March 27 due to COVID-19. While he applied for PPP funds as soon as he was able, Segal choose to sit on the money until he was able to reopen on May 18. He lost nearly 100% of his business while closed, as very little business is done online. “You’d think getting quote-on-quote free money from the government would be a blessing, but there were elements of a curse,” stated Segal.
While preparing to reopen, employees deep-cleaned the store. “No question the store is as clean as it has ever been,” said Segal. While closed, they went through every bin. Plus, they’re cleaning in between customers as a precaution against COVID-19.
He is hopeful businesses in the Midway will come back stronger and physically better than before.
“Hopefully, we’ll see some real change as it relates to racism,” stated Segal. “At the end of the day, I think we need to see positive changes in policing and community involvement. I hope that’s what comes of this.”

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Will Midway Center be demolished?

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

City’s first step preserves use of TIF for redevelopment

By JANE McCLURE

Tenants at the Midway Center, damaged by fire and vandalism on May 28, are being forced to move out. Their leases have been revoked effective July 17, 2020, but it is unclear what will happen to the building. Over 170 businesses were damaged in the Midway following the murder of George Floyd. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Before fire-damaged building at Midway Center can be demolished, steps must be taken to preserve possible use of tax increment financing (TIF) for redevelopment. The St. Paul City Council, acting June 24 as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, got that effort rolling with two actions.
The HRA approved a demolition and development agreement with Snelling-Midway Redevelopment, LLC, the partnership involved in redeveloping the superblock bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues. Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff and Bill McGuire, who has led Minnesota United FC’s efforts to get Allianz Field built on the southwest part of the property, are the development partners. The soccer team starts its second season in Midway this month.
When the TIF request would come forward isn’t known. City officials this summer are already waiting for the developers to request amendments to the redevelopment master plan. Any plan amendments will go to the St. Paul Planning Commission for review and a recommendation, and then to the city council for final action.
The superblock is governed by a master plan that won city council approval few years ago. It calls for a mix of uses including commercial/office, hotel space and housing. The plan was developed with input from a community/St. Paul Planning Commission task force.
McGuire met earlier this year with Union Park District Council to discuss mixed-use development in the form of two buildings west of the soccer stadium. He also described how plans for a movie theater likely won’t occur, but that a hotel and housing are still in the mix.
Metropolitan Council June awarded the United Village Midway Block B $125,000 for cleanup on a 2.4-acre site that is currently a surface parking lot. Plans call for 234 market-rate apartments and 15,500 square feet of commercial space over structured parking.
But how those plans for redevelopment are affected by the fire damage isn’t clear. One finding required under state TIF law is that structures be deemed “substandard” before a district can be implemented.
The HRA on June 24 also made certain findings, including the determination that the Big Top Liquors and Midway Center structures are substandard. The liquor store located in the former Perkins restaurant building at 1544 University Ave. and the northeast section of the shopping center at University and Pascal were extensively damaged during the unrest after George Floyd’s death in May.
TIF is a mean of public financing that is used to pay for redevelopment costs including infrastructure, demolition and other development-related costs. Cities divert future property tax revenues that would be gained through redevelopment back into specific project costs. TIF districts can only be in place for a set number of years. It is controversial because it takes away potential property taxes for other local units of government. But in the face of fewer development tools, TIF is one of the remaining options.
TIF for Midway Center redevelopment has sparked controversy among city council members in the past, but the June 24 actions passed unanimously. Council members Dai Thao and Mitra Jalai spoke to the need for redevelopment, and community members’ eagerness to see something happen.
Interim St. Paul Planning and Economic Development (PED) Director Kristin Guild emphasized that the actions taken June 24 simply preserve the option to use TIF in the redevelopment project. It’s not a commitment that the financing tool will be used. If the developers choose to use TIF, a separate application would be brought before the HRA and city council.
Nor is it even a commitment to demolish or restore the structures, Guild said. As of late June demolition permits for the properties hadn’t been pulled. The sites are fenced off.
“The Big Top Liquor building is really severely damaged,” Guild said. So too is Midway Center, with the worst damage centered on the former Foot Locker store. Fire, smoke and water damage spread to adjacent stores
In September 2017, the HRA made findings to qualify parcels within the Snelling Midway development site as a “renewal and renovation TIF district.” That allowed for demolition of the first structures to move ahead and make way for the stadium and its nearby green space and parking. The longtime Big Top building on Snelling between Shields Ave. and Spruce Tree Dr., the former American Bank building at Snelling and University, and the western portion of Midway Center that included Cub Foods, Midway Pro Bowl and other businesses came down.
But the damage in June to Big Top and the rest of the shopping center meant that a new analysis and new findings should be prepared, Guild said.

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Reopening the Midway

Reopening the Midway

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Building a stronger Midway

Chad Kulas

By CHAD KULAS,
Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
chad@midwaychamber.com

Over the past month you have probably noticed more businesses reopening, leading to more cars on the road and fewer people staying at home. In the Midway, particularly along University Ave., businesses are reopening due to fewer restrictions for COVID-19 and are returning after the civil unrest led to boarded up buildings. While we have been reopening in Minnesota, it is hard to ignore the headlines from other states where they opened earlier and are now closing again after a spike in new COVID-19 cases. It can be hard to predict our future – in a month or two are we going to be more open than now, or less?
We can all do our part in helping keep businesses open by wearing masks. A mask is uncomfortable, but not as bad as a ventilator. It is important to remember now that the reopening must be handled with care –continue practicing proper social distancing, wash your hands, be careful what you touch and wear a mask.
The Midway faces another challenge as it attempts to reopen: The businesses impacted by the damage caused during the civil unrest in late May. Even for those who didn’t sustain their own property damage, they are faced with concerned clients and customers wondering what’s open amidst boarded up windows.
For many of these businesses, they have gone through a lot of thought about their future. If they suffered damage, do they have insurance. If they have insurance, what does it cover? Do they want to reopen? As businesses discover what is and is not covered by insurance, they get a clearer picture of their needs.
The Midway Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance, have created a fund to support those impacted with property damage. These businesses, nonprofits and building owners are encouraged to apply for funds at https://www.saintpaulchamber.com/welovestpaul.html. Funds have begun to be awarded and will continue so for many more weeks.
Other businesses and individuals are stepping up to help by utilizing their skills. Some companies have offered support by working with insurance companies, while others have equipment they can use or a product that can help. For example, some companies can remove graffiti and helped beautify the Midway by cleaning buildings, signs and transit platforms.
We have our work cut out for us, but thankfully we also have a strong community and other friends willing to do their part. Together, we are working on safely reopening the Midway.

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I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Capturing moments

South Minneapolis writer and photographer, Abha Karnick

By Abha Karnick

I watched his last breath. Millions of people soon would as well.
I can’t breathe.
He was murdered on my block next to the bus I ride, in front of my children, in front of the world.
I can’t breathe.
Crowds gathered and my eyes glistened. Glistened with tears, glistened with light from the fires, glistened with hurt and fear and anger.
I can’t breathe.
My city was burning, my people were scattering, my world was shattering. Yelling, cursing, crying. In one ear and out the other, or so it seemed. My senses overwhelmed, my grief inexplicable.
I can’t breathe.
The haze drifted like fog, blocking the view of the city, clouding the hearts of the oppressed. The unheard were here, they were pleading. I was pleading. Let them be heard.
I can’t breathe.
Flowers, thousands, lay on the streets. Graffiti lined the walls of the train and the businesses. “Fuck the 12” “Black Lives Matter” “Society awakens”
I can’t breathe.
This is my city. My city. I ache as history again repeats, never letting up as injustice hits the streets. Ashes from the fires settled on lawns and houses, asking to be seen, needing to be seen.
I can’t breathe.
When will future history books remove the white-authoritative narrative and choose truth? Oh, Minneapolis.
Oh, Minneapolis. I can’t breathe.

Photo by Abha Karnick

Abha Karnick is a south Minneapolis resident with East Indian roots who graduated from Hamline University in 2019. She grew up in the Twin Cities and found her passions in music, photography, and writing. She has pieces published with CAAL, MNAsianStories, and HER Online Journal, and her passion lies in storytelling and finding the moments to capture.

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Help an older neighbor

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Hamline Midway Elders

Monica Gallagher Hamline Midway Elders

By Monica
Gallagher
monica@HMelders.org
651-209-6542

So many have asked us recently in light of Covid 19, and then neighborhood unrest, “How can I help seniors in areas affected?” The outpouring of generosity and community concern has been deeply moving. Our older neighbors are proving themselves to be resilient and resourceful, yet again. That said, we are also talking to many people who miss usual activities and connections, as well.
To answer the “how to help” question, we could use volunteers to do the following things:
• ”Adopt” a senior’s home this summer for mowing and weeding and/or raking and shoveling in other seasons
• As clinics reopen, we will need volunteer drivers for medical appointments who are at less risk for Covid-19 transmission than older drivers, some of whom have had to take a break
• Weed a senior’s yard and/or remove volunteer trees, or prune shrubs. Some lifelong gardeners with new limitations feel discouraged.
• Paint a garage, clean a garage, or wash windows at a senior’s home
• Deliver from a food shelf or grocery store to a senior’s home regularly
• Handyperson skills? Change a lock or install motion detector lights at a senior’s home
• Have a pickup? Haul trash, compost, or waste to the appropriate place. This is a morale booster and stress reliever. (Homeowner will cover disposal fees, typically).
Direct service to seniors – in their yards or as a volunteer driver – requires a background check and short volunteer application. To complete the background check, and begin the volunteer intake process, email Service Director Monica Gallagher at monica@hmelders.org. (If you are serving with a group outside, we ask that the group leader complete the background check). She can send you a link to complete the background check right away. There is also a volunteer application. Volunteer drivers must also show proof of valid insurance, driver’s license, and complete a 30-min. volunteer intake over the phone.
There are other ways to support seniors in our neighborhood, short of becoming an “official” volunteer:
• Introduce yourself, or simply leave a note, for your older neighbors. Leave your contact info if you feel comfortable. Many people we a to are disappointed they don’t know their neighbors anymore.
• When you are going to the store yourself, ask an older neighbor if they need something.
• Even if you are young and healthy, wear a mask in public and take hygiene precautions – you will be indirectly protecting senior neighbors
• Donate to the rebuilding of Lloyd’s Pharmacy or other damaged businesses – links on the Hamline Midway Coalition page.
• Identify local reliable, friendly, affordable mowing services, favorite handyperson, electrical, plumbing, or housecleaners to add to our Aging Well resource list. These should be contractors willing to accept checks, phone calls, and to complete a background check including references.
• Be aware of handicapped parking spaces, sidewalks, etc. when you park in the neighborhood. Open doors for those using walkers, canes – or anyone, really!
Please call our office with any questions or concerns. We remain grateful to serve a community-minded neighborhood!

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KeystoneFoodmobile

{ Development Roundup } July 2020

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By JANE McCLURE

The new Keystone Foodmobile II has more storage space and the capacity to serve 50% more people at every distribution, bringing shelf stable, fresh, refrigerated and frozen food to everyone. The organization is doing drive-through food distributiong events, and started offering Free Farmers Market In A Bag in July.

Keystone eyes University Ave. for new food shelf site
As more people need help with food, Keystone Community Services plans a new community food site to replace aging facilities in Iris Park and North End neighborhoods. The land use committee for Union Park District Council (UPDC) voted unanimously June 15 to support Keystone’s efforts to get a new $5.8 million facility built.
The project June 24 received a $100,000 Metropolitan Council Livable Communities Demonstration Account-Transit Oriented Development pre-development grant.
Keystone also has a request in to the Minnesota Legislature for $1.5 million to acquire property along University Ave. The state funds would be used to purchase property and do predesign work. The second phase of the project would be to construct the new facility.
Keystone is looking at a potential site in Union Park’s planning district, with about 20,000 square feet of space. The Metropolitan Council application indicated the site could be near the Green Line lightrail Lexington Station area.
The social services agency recently conducted strategic planning and extensive community engagement processes, during which it was determined that a new centralized food distribution center should be along University Ave. The need for an improved food site was heard over and over again.
“Our two sites are bursting at the seams,” said Mary McKeown, Keystone’s president and CEO. The Iris Park food shelf at 1816 University Ave. is in a former storefront. The Rice Street facility at Rice and Arlington occupies part of a former heating and cooling business. Both buildings are showing their age.
Both facilities lack private space to meet with clients. Neither space holds more than half a dozen volunteers at a time. A new site will allow Keystone to serve more than 43,000 people each year with food, emergency assistance and connections to resources. It will also provide needed space for volunteers and for clients.
Keystone operates the largest food distribution program in the east metro area. Its location at 1916 University Ave. opened in the mid-1980s, moving there from a small food shelf at the Merriam Park Community Center.
Keystone also operates two Foodmobiles, which stop at more than 30 targeted, high-demand locations. The second Foodmobile began operating in the spring.
Modern food shelves allow customers to shop and pick the foods they want, from the selection on hand. Efforts are made to provide culturally-specific foods for customers to choose from.
In 2019, Keystone helped almost 12,000 low-income households with food shelf and crisis assistance support. That breaks down to the equivalent of 166,080 bags of groceries.
Keystone in 2019 provided 27,000 people with food shelf support, a 9.5% increase over 2018. Overall, Keystone provided services for 37,544 people. Keystone has facilities and West Seventh and Merriam Park community centers, and through a bike shop and technology workshop in Selby Ave.

Grants award for development
The Metropolitan Council awarded $3 million in polluted-site clean-up grants and $500,000 in additional grants that promote redevelopment and economic opportunity in the region. The grant awards are through the Livable Communities Program.
Through the region, the latest round of grants will help clean up 33 acres, create or retain more than 600 full-time jobs, increase the net tax base by nearly $2.4 million, help to produce and preserve more than 1,200 homes, including 767 affordable homes, and encourage millions more in private investment.
Information on grants for Midway Center redevelopment and the Keystone Community Services food shelf project appear elsewhere in this issue. Another clean-up grant went to developer Reuter Walton. The $111,800 will be used for cleanup on a 3.2-acre site that currently houses four vacant buildings and surface parking, at the northwest corner of University and Fairview avenues. The development will include 280 affordable apartments with 2,440 square feet of commercial space with underground and surface parking.
Grants obtained through Metropolitan Council go through an application and approval process with the city. The St. Paul City Council in June voted to accept grant funding for the 1222 University Ave. project, which would turn a former casket company into 62 affordable apartments.
The city council also voted in June to apply for more grants including $500,000 for the Reuter Walton project.

Kimball Court assistance
The COVID-19 pandemic has added expenses for low-income housing providers, including expenses related to additional cleaning and property management. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, unanimously approved operating reserves assistance for Kimball Court.
Kimball Court is a 76-unit congregate/single room occupancy property with 54 single-room units with shared bathrooms and 12 single-room units with kitchens located at 545 Snelling Ave N. It houses single adults who have experienced homelessness, and is owned and operated by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. Beacon acquired the property in 2011. It was previously owned and operated by Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.
The project doesn’t generate cash flow. With its shared space, it also poses increased health risks during the pandemic. Residents face elevated risks of becoming sick, as many have underlying health conditions or disabilities.
Current tenants in some units may be unable to meet their rent obligations due to the economic impact of the pandemic. At the same time property owners may experience increased operating costs related to increased cleaning and other health measures. Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials are allowing projects like Kimball Court to set up capitalized reserves to preserve the financial viability of the housing.
The city is providing a $92,750 forgivable loan to fund the property’s operating deficit.

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Q&A with Otis Zanders of Ujamaa Place

Posted on 25 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By Elena Vaughn

Otis Zanders of Ujaama Place

Otis Zanders has had enough. “As the CEO of an organization that serves the most marginalized population in society, African American men, aged 18-30, Ujamaa Place (1821 University Ave. W. n187, St. Paul) serves on the front lines of the war on injustice by helping men navigate systemic poverty and racism, connection to the criminal justice system, homelessness and unemployment.”

What is the current situation as you see it?

Our nation has been in crisis for decades.  George Floyd’s murder was where the world said enough is enough and [it] happened at a time when the world was stood still from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Why are we here? What factors brought us to this point in time?

Our hearts are broken from the generational trauma and human rights atrocities that our people have suffered for 400 years since the recording of the first slave ship’s arrival in the U.S. We must allow the voices and strength of our ancestors to guide us through these unprecedented times and the challenging waters ahead.

 

How can white people support the Black Lives Matter movement? Can you define what “ally” means to you?

Allies can support us by denouncing racism and inequality in all forms.  An “ally” is a human being.  There is one race, the human race.

 

What needs to change in Minnesota to address the systematic racism?

NOW is the time to strategize ways to confront systemic racism in every form of injustice that exists in Minnesota. We have to change. History is being written that will teach future generations that freedom and equality is not a given. We must fight for it.  Starting NOW, Minnesota must stand on the right side of history.

 

What is your reaction to the peaceful protests and the looting?

As the son of sharecroppers from the Mississippi Delta, I witnessed firsthand at a very young age, the clear connection between the legacy of slavery and American Capitalism. Today as a husband, father, and CEO of Ujamaa Place, I still see the ways in which the legacy of slavery lives on through systemic racism and plays out in the everyday lives of African Americans. We pray that the solidarity we are witnessing from around the world is a sign that we are collectively ready to pluck the ugly root of systemic racism for good. We regret that it took the murders of George Floyd, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others for people to finally be fed up. We stand on mighty shoulders that taught us freedom and justice is not a given, and that we must continue to teach each generation to fight for equality.

 

Watch the YouTube video of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explain why people protest.  “A Riot Is The Language of the Unheard.” There is no enjoyment derived from watching a city burned or looted.

 

In 1968, Martin Luther King asked “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” How do you see the impact of these protests carrying on King’s legacy?  Where do we go from here as a community?

 

The world witnessed George Floyd take his last breath as the knee of a white police officer lay on his neck restricting his airways, with members of the community pleading for his life. This was a reminder that we are not yet FREE from the bonds of slavery. The institution of slavery and its byproducts – racism, inequality, poverty and injustice are alive and well in our society today. This is why at Ujamaa Place, we focus on teaching our men to navigate systems of racism and ways to eliminate roadblocks that perpetuate inequality.

 

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Ron Johnson remembers Lloyd’s

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Ron Johnson was working at Target when he heard Lloyd’s Pharmacy was for sale in 1974.
He headed to the longtime pharmacy at Snelling and Minnehaha to meet Lloyd Jensen, the 25-year owner.
“He was one of the nicest people I’d ever met,” recalled Johnson, who is 74 years old now. “Thoughtful.” It didn’t take Johnson long to decide to buy the business.
Johnson sought to be a good asset to the neighborhood as Lloyd had, and Florian Ritschel had before him.

Click here to read article titled: Lloyd’s, Menopause Center burn to ground

The son of German immigrants opened Florian’s Pharmacy in 1918 after purchasing the building at 720 Snelling in Hamline, Minn. It had been built in 1914 and previously housed a millinery shop. “He was the kind of guy who ran a lot of different promotions,” recalled Johnson.
Lloyd purchased the pharmacy in 1949, renaming it.
When Johnson bought it, he never thought of changing the name. Everyone knew Lloyd and respected him.
Johnson worked to keep the store as Lloyd had, greeting all of his customers by name. “There’s a huge difference between the business at Target and Lloyd’s,” observed Johnson. “Lloyd’s customers are really special people.”
Although Johnson grew to own six pharmacies in St. Paul, Rochester, and Arden Hills (where he lived), he always worked out of the Lloyd’s location. For a time, Lloyd continued to live in the apartment above the store, coming down to chat with former customers. Florian dropped by, too.

Lloyd’s Pharmacy, 1985

Johnson started as the pharmacist at the store with one other staff member, and his wife helped out on the weekends when she wasn’t working as a school speech therapist.
At one time, there were about 10 independent pharmacies along Snelling, Johnson pointed out, and hundreds in St. Paul. Today, there are very few, and Lloyd’s is one of the only still compounding medications there on site.
It was important to him to keep it as an independent pharmacy.
“Lloyd’s Pharmacy has been a great part of the community, and I’d like to see it stay that way,” said Johnson. He sold the pharmacy in 2014 to his head pharmacist, Jim Stage.
One of his former staff members called Johnson on Thursday, May 28, 2020 to let him know the store had been looted. He discovered the next morning that it had also been set on fire and burned to the ground.

Ron Johnson

In his grief, he held onto what his son said to him. “‘The lumber, the wood is gone, but you still have the memories.’ That was an important time in my life,” said Johnson about the 40 years he spent at the pharmacy.

Four owners in 102 years
• Florian Ritschel: 31 years, 1918-1949
• Lloyd Jenson: 25 years,
1949-1974
• Ron Johnson: 40 years,
1974-2014
• Jim Stage: 2014-present

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Over 170 businesses damaged in Midway

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

People step up to help, city council members talk about needs for honest dialogue

Big Top Liquor, in the former Midway Perkins, was looted and set ablaze on Thursday, May 28, and the next day staff from Restoration Professionals was on site to board up the building. Firefighters were still working on DTLR Sports Dome the next day across the street. Businesses damaged there include Midway Tobacco, Boost Mobile, Maxx It Pawn, Culver’s and neighboring businesses. The eastern half of the Maxx It Pawn-Sports Dome group of businesses was leveled after looting, vandalism and fire. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

By JANE McCLURE
Clean up and recovery efforts continue throughout St. Paul after the vandalism, looting and arsons that began May 28. Several area district councils, business associations and community groups organized clean-up groups and were out sweeping up glass and picking up debris May 29 in Midway and Frogtown.
The morning of May 29, hundreds of volunteers helped clean and board businesses. Hamline Midway Coalition, Frogtown Neighborhood Association and Union Park District Council worked (UPDC) to help organize the groups.
Hamline Midway Coalition and Union Park District Council (UPDC) have expressed gratitude for the help rendered. Both district councils have not only helped on the ground in many ways. They also have had to sort through rumors and real situations of possible illegal activities in the neighborhoods.
“There’s been a lot of ways that people have stepped up to help,” UPDC Board President Henry Parker said. Volunteers have worked to clean up and board up businesses, collect and distribute food, and continue to help affected businesses and residents. UPDC volunteers alone helped board up 10 businesses. Others have helped at food distribution points at Lexington Parkway and Central Avenue, University and Fairview, Celtic Junction and at Bethlehem Lutheran Church-in-the-Midway. The church has become a major food hub.
Both Merriam Park, Frogtown and Hamline-Midway Facebook pages set up regular neighborhood watches during and after the nights of violence, to keep each other informed and report activity. Some volunteers walked neighborhood streets in violation of the state-imposed curfews and county state of emergency. Others kept watch from their yards and porches.
Elected officials have been out helping, and are appreciative of the volunteer efforts to help the community. “It’s been an extraordinary, extraordinary week in many ways,” said St. Paul City Council President Amy Brendmoen. City council members have not only been out observing damage and helping with clean-up, they are also looking at the need for an upcoming policy session on steps St. Paul and its Police Department can take to prevent tragedies tied to police brutality. Brendmoen said there is a need for an honest dialogue to continue making changes.
University Avenue businesses sustained the heaviest damage in terms of looting and fires. Two local businesses, Lloyd’s Pharmacy/Menopause Center and Bole Ethiopian restaurant, were lost to fires. Both business were the focus of separate, successful GoFundMe campaigns and plan to rebuild or relocate in the area. Lloyd’s, which is serving customers through its sister pharmacy Setzer’s in Roseville, is planning to open a small interim location in Midway. (See related story beginning on front page.)
Midway Center was hit very hard with looting and then fires. Foot Locker was looted and set ablaze. Adjacent businesses were damaged including Great Clips, Rainbow clothing shop, GameStop Midway, To New York Midway and Peking Garden. Big Top Liquor, in the former Midway Perkins, was looted and set ablaze.
Across the street, businesses damaged include Midway Tobacco, DTLR Sports Dome, Boost Mobile, Maxx It Pawn, Culver’s and neighboring businesses. The eastern half of the Maxx It Pawn-Sports Dome group of businesses was leveled after looting, vandalism and fire. But crews were inside the western half of the structure making repairs the first week of June.

CVS at University and Snelling was looted and vandalized, as were businesses to the east including Ax-Man Surplus, JJ Fish and Chicken, and Metro Sound and Lighting. Metro Sound and Lighting was hit very hard. “We were broken into last night and majorly looted and vandalized,” the business owner stated in a Facebook post. “They tried breaking a front window, and when that didn’t work, they went around to the back of the building, gaining access by virtually destroying a back door. Recession, light rail construction in front of our building, pandemic….and now this.”
At Midway Marketplace, businesses were looted and fires set. Cub, Dollar Tree, TJ Maxx and the Healtheast Clinic were hit hard. The strip mall along University at Hamline had a fire set at the UPS store and businesses including Discount Tire were vandalized and looted. LeeAnn Chin restaurant sustained heavy damage.
Furniture Barn was set on fire and looted.
Midway SuperTarget was looted and vandalized, as were the nearby shops in the building at Hamline and University – Verizon, Noodles and Company, and the Vitamin Shop. The closed BP station at Hamline and University was vandalized.
Stores and restaurants on the first floor of the PPL Building at Hamline and University sustained damage. The building housing Bole Ethiopian restaurant, NAPA Auto Parts and Jackson Hewitt at University and Syndicate was destroyed by fire.
Goodwill at Griggs and Syndicate was vandalized and a dumpster set on fire.
Enterprise’s University Ave. vehicle rental business was damaged by fire. Anaya Dance Theater was vandalized and a wig shop in the former Arnellia’s nightclub was looted and set ablaze.
Office buildings at University and Syndicate were vandalized.
ALDI and Gordon Parks School were vandalized, with a fire set inside of Gordon Parks. Businesses at Lexington and University were damaged including UnBank, White Castle and TCF Bank. O’Reilly Auto Parts was vandalized and set on fire.
Many convenience stores including Speedway and Holiday Station stores were damaged throughout the area including stores on Snelling, University and Lexington. A fire was set at the Speedway at University and Chatsworth.
Many liquor stores around the city were looted and/or vandalized including Snelling Avenue Fine Wines and Liquors.
A few stores have reported break-ins and attempted break-ins during the first week of June.
Overnight May 28-29, the St Paul Fire Department responded to 295 calls for service, 169 of those calls were EMS calls for service and 126 were fire calls. The fire department deployed almost 200 of its own firefighters and had mutual aid from Roseville, Roseville, Maplewood, Little Canada, Lake Johana, North St. Paul, Dakota County Washington County, South Metro, Woodbury and MAC Fire.
Of the 126 fire calls, 55 were actual working fires primarily to commercial properties.
“I want to thank the women and men of our department for the incredible work they performed. Our firefighters responded in challenging conditions which included them having rocks, bricks, and bottles thrown at them. They do this work to serve the residents and visitors of St. Paul and to ensure that every person is cared for and safe,” said Chief Butch Inks.

Volunteers pass out water to those cleaning up and boarding windows on Friday, May 29. “There’s a lot of ways that people have stepped up to help,” observed UPDC President Henry Parker. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

DONATION SITES

• Midway Chamber of Commerce – We Love the Midway: http://www.midwaychamber.com/we-love-midway

• Neighbors United Funding Collaborative: https://midwayunited.org/

• Bole Ethiopian: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rebuilding-bole-ethiopian-cuisine

• Lloyd’s Pharmacy: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lloyd039s-pharmacy-rebuilding-fund-st-paul-riots

FREE LEGAL CLINICS

A series of rapidly organized free legal clinics for individuals, businesses and families impacted by the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd began June 6. The clinics aim to provide safe, confidential and free legal advice, resources and forms for anyone who needs assistance in the community.

Running every weekend while there are those in need, the clinics are organized by the Community Law Collective, a coalition of Twin Cities law firms and Zeus Jones, which will host the first three clinics at 2429 Nicollet Ave S., Minneapolis. Future clinics may be held in the Midway. More information at https://tinyurl.com/FreeLegalClinic.

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2019 Midway Chamber Directory

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