By J.D. Duggan, Finance & Commerce

Tucked into a corner on the southwest side of Interstate 94 and Highway 55, a swath of lots and industrial spaces sit in Minneapolis’ Harrison neighborhood.

This area in the Bassett Creek Valley is home to a former superfund site and has a planned light rail station as a neighbor.

Development in this district is heating up and will soon be home to a cluster of new developments that are already in the works. Some catalyst investments by Wellington Management Inc. and other developers could be the kickoff to an array of developments in the coming years.

Wellington’s project alongside Vikings Hall of Famer Carl Eller is moving forward. The 187-unit Currie Commons at 187 Humboldt Ave. N. will have units that are affordable to a range of households earning between 30% and 80% of the area median income. It will have 40 project-based vouchers for large-family housing and people with disabilities, plus five units for people who have experienced long-term homelessness.

“He’s had a long-term vision for the site as being a connector for the North Side to downtown and for the rest of the city and it being a bit of a legacy project for him,” said David Wellington, president of Wellington Management.

The company has control of about 10 acres of the neighborhood where about 60 acres could be open for development, according to a planning document from Wellington.

“We are building projects that we think represent the interests of the community broadly,” Wellington said. He noted that this is the company’s third affordable project in the immediate area.

Wellington bought the site of the former Leef industrial dry cleaner and redeveloped it into a $14 million, 65,000-square-foot office building. The company partnered with Artspace to create a 100-unit artist loft project and sold a parcel that will be developed by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity into 17 affordable for-sale townhomes.

“I think that’s a very clear testament to our expectations that we need to be serving this community for the community that lives there now,” Wellington said.

The company is also looking ahead at creating more than 100,000 square feet of office, retail and production space.

Nearby, Maven Development Group is hoping to rise a six-story, 349-unit apartmentcomplex.

The sites are challenging, though. Longtime contamination and a high water table and location on a floodplain due to the nearby Bassett Creek means a lot of coordination with public agencies is necessary to make projects work.

Nichole Buehler, executive director of Harrison Neighborhood Association, said the area has seen massive interest and her organization has advocated for policies like tenant opportunity to purchase and rent control to ensure residents can stay in place.

The neighborhood has a history of “cycles of displacement,” she said. The construction of the highway destroyed one of the only areas in Minneapolis where Black people and Jews could own property. She also noted the Hollman decree, which aimed to deconcentrate poverty and destroyed hundreds of public housing units and displacing residents across the city – including in Harrison.

Buehler, a housing advocate on the board of The Alliance, said in a neighborhood with a median income of $35,000, 60% AMI is still unattainable. “We’re not opposed to development, we just want to make sure that there’s units that are affordable to Harrison residents and North Side residents,” she said on behalf of HNA.

She hopes local governments will step up to offer more project-based vouchers and funding for deeply affordable units.

Wellington said his company is doing what it can to be sensitive to the needs amid the challenging affordable housing environment. It’s difficult to create 30% AMI homes, and demand outpaces any public funding offered to fix up older naturally occurring affordable housing units. Supply chain issues only exacerbate the issue.

“The types of projects we work on, the outcomes that we’re seeking, the projects that we’ve started with, I think, are very representative of what we think are meaningful, positive pushes in the right direction for Harrison and [nearby neighborhood] Bryn Mawr,” Wellington said.