In Tawakal Express on Cedar Avenue, Abdala Yusef used to sit at a desk behind a plastic partition and send money from Cedar-Riverside residents to people in Somalia. But all he’s done for the past two weeks is turn away prospective money-senders. The number of banks that facilitated these transfers has been decreasing over the past 10 years. Last month, the last bank in the country to perform these transfers stopped, leaving Somalis without the $215 million they receive annually in remittances from U.S. senders, according to documents from the global aid group Oxfam America.
Businesses have come and gone over the past few decades in the University of Minnesota area, but those that have remained and expanded to other locations have left behind a distinct brand. Many of the small businesses in the area have only one location, but some area entrepreneurs have expanded — either within the school’s surrounding business districts or beyond —garnering mixed success.
Under new leadership, the Dinkytown Business Alliance has begun work on one of its president’s highest-priority initiatives — membership. The DBA is sending letters and calling on current members to help grow the organization’s membership base. While most businesses in Dinkytown are currently members, the DBA’s new goal is to increase membership while bringing in an array of businesses, property owners and community organizations.
A Cedar-Riverside restaurant that has fed the area’s lunch and dinner crowd a mix of African and Mediterranean cuisine for nearly five years expanded last week, opening a new storefront in St. Paul.
University of Minnesota area restaurant patrons will have a new lunch option after Jersey Mike’s opens a Dinkytown location in late March or early April. The national franchise may also lease a space in Stadium Village. The casual sub shop will fill a vacant retail space next to TargetExpress in the Marshall apartment building. The franchise is one of several chains that have come to Dinkytown in the past year. Since TargetExpress’s opening in July, Starbucks, Great Clips, Pizza Studio and college-geared calzone franchise D.P Dough have also landed in the area.
The West Bank Business Association was recently awarded specialized tech help for some of its businesses through a city-funded aid program. The city of Minneapolis awarded 300 free hours of technical assistance hours to the WBBA as part of a larger citywide initiative called Business Technical Assistance Program. The Minneapolis City Council will on Friday also discuss $40,000 for area storefront improvements, which could help Cedar-Riverside businesses thrive.
In an effort to help University of Minnesota staff and faculty members live closer to their jobs, a partnership between the University District Alliance Housing Committee and a nonprofit organization will ramp up this spring. The team has been holding near-monthly orientation sessions to give prospective homeowners an affordable housing option in the University area.
The University of Minnesota marked an entire block in Stadium Village as “future University ownership” on its master plan in spring 2009. The institution just began acquiring that land by purchasing three of 14 land parcels for $6.6 million on Jan. 29. By September, it’ll own the entire 2.29-acre block for a total of $26 million. CPM Companies had planned to build an extended-stay hotel on the land. Now, it will move the project across the street, displacing a decades-old chow mein bakery.
The University of Minnesota Real Estate Office purchased three parcels of land Thursday that were originally intended to be the location of a new extended-stay hotel. The parcels are all located in Stadium Village on the 1000 block of Essex Street Southeast and were bought from CPM Companies for about $6.6 million in total. University spokesman Steve Henneberry said the school hasn’t yet determined what it will do with the land. The acquisition is part of a larger $26 million purchase that the University will make, according to Board of Regents documents.
When Anne Kennedy signed a lease with Stadium Village Flats, she expected to room with only a University of Minnesota student. The physiology junior had only one roommate over her two years there, until early last month when she got an email with the contact information for a new one. After failed attempts to contact her new roommate, Kennedy, said she searched for the woman on Facebook and was alarmed to learn that her new roommate would not be a University student and had an infant.