Friday the 13th of May was a fair-weather day that favored the groundbreaking ceremony taking place in North Minneapolis. City officials and community leaders gathered together to celebrate the new Satori Village residential and retail community that will bring 112 market-rate and affordable apartment units to the North Side—a first of its kind to the tune of $68 million.
The project is spearheaded by JADT Development Group, led by former Vikings player and developer Tim Baylor, who founded the business in 1985.
Baylor owns a number of residential and commercial properties in the city, including several McDonald’s franchises and the Riverview Townhomes in Minneapolis that overlook the Mississippi River.
Baylor gave a speech about his work in development and thanked his partners on the Satori Village project for their support. Mohammed Lawal of LSE Architects followed Baylor’s speech with his own remarks about their partnership on the Northside project. The two go back over 15 years to when Lawal’s firm designed Baylor’s townhome property in Minneapolis.
LSE has designed projects across the Twin Cities, most notably the U.S. Bank Stadium. On the North Side, Lawal’s firm has done remodeling and full-scale designs of schools, libraries and barbershops.
They’re currently working on the Upper Harbor Terminal and its many facets. “One of the things that we like to say is that we work on everything from barbershops to billion-dollar stadiums and just about everything in between,” Lawal said.
During his speech, Lawal shared how Baylor had approached him with a sketch of his idea for the Satori Village years ago and how they planned to bring it to fruition.
“So we took his drawing and created a three-block site plan that was housing interspersed in between existing buildings that he didn’t own and parcels of land that Tim had under control and we created a site plan and overall development that included shared parking, market-rate housing, little pocket parks, areas for people to have their dogs and pets, and commercial,” Lawal said.
The initial design was of a three-story 54-unit project, but after some changes in the zoning code the pair were encouraged to build higher and more densely, which resulted in their now six-story development that houses retail space on the main floor.
Lawal stated that the needs of the community were at the forefront of their designs, which made them want to bring life to the corridor. “You can have neighbors with front porches and stairs and you can walk up to those units, and [that] adds vibrancy and life to the street front,” he said.
Vaneta Parker, the project manager at JADT, has over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry. She joined the development group in 2017 after knowing Baylor, her brother-in-law, for several years.
“Our first priority is the community,” Parker said. JADT’s work, as Parker described it, is not just developing the community but also bridging the gaps between people and institutions. She stated that Baylor expressed his vision of North Minneapolis having market-rate apartments and how it would fulfill the needs of the community on several levels—residential, economic and structurally.
Phase One of the project brings on the Satori Boutique Apartments that consist of 46 one-bedroom and 36 two-bedroom apartments. The second phase, the Satori Lofts, has one-bedroom apartments with high ceilings.
Lastly, Phase Three is the Satori Senior Living property, which offers 60 units for seniors who may live in the community but are searching for something independent and affordable.
Parker estimates that construction could be completed on both Phase One and Two in fewer than 18 months as they work with the City on approving the lofts and senior housing units.
The groundbreaking ceremony listed different businesses and public agencies as supporters of the Satori Village. Parker stated that without the backing of the City of Minneapolis and other groups, this development wouldn’t be possible. She referred to Baylor’s community ties and public works as a credit for bringing people to the table.
“Tim has worked prior to McDonald’s and some of the other ventures he’s done, he’s sat on the board of commissioners within the City. He’s been that person who approves zoning and has operated in that capacity in previous years,” she said.
Among the organizations listed as having contributed some sort of financial or resource support for the village were the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Catalyst Opportunity Funds, Mortenson Construction, and the Community Planning and Economic Development Department (CPED) for the City of Minneapolis.
Andrea Brennan is the director of CPED and attended the groundbreaking ceremony to speak on the collaborative efforts that took place between the different entities backing JADT’s development along West Broadway.
Her department worked with Baylor and Lawal on several steps of the development process to ensure that the project was meeting the City’s requirements and that Baylor owned the properties he wished to develop. “One of the reasons the City was initially approached by Tim Baylor was because the City had owned some of the lots that were needed for this project,” she said.
The City acquires properties that are blighted through different means, such as tax forfeitures, and holds those sites until they’re able to be developed. “Oftentimes, for example, there are hazardous buildings that are vacant, that are boarded, and that both create a blighting influence but also are dangerous and pose a hazardous condition to the community,” Brennan said.
Baylor worked out an agreement with the City after filing for exclusive development rights that required him to showcase that he had control of the majority of the site outside of the properties owned by the City. He received clean-up funds and financing support from CPED with the stipulation that a percentage of units would qualify as affordable housing.
“So, under City policy, tax increment financing or any other financial assistance for a private development must include some affordable housing. That’s why 20% of the units here in the first phase of Satori village include affordable units,” Brennan said.
Part of the reason why CPED required 20% of units to be affordable is due to the City’s housing goals in the Minneapolis 2040 plan that aims to create a more sustainable city for its residents.
“Minneapolis 2040 is the overarching policy document direction for us, so that’s definitely one of the key policy drivers for this kind of development,” Brennan said. She also referenced community plans such as the West Broadway Alive plan that factored into some decisions.
Another guiding policy is the City’s Strategic & Racial Equity Action Plan (SREAP) that builds on the 2040 plan but prioritizes housing, public safety, and economic development while also working to prevent involuntary displacement.
Brennan shared that area codes 55412, 55411 and 55414 all had the highest eviction rates in the city, and plans like SREAP and the City’s 2040 can work to slow that displacement, if not eliminate it.
Lawal shared how this experience with the Satori Village development has made him more aware of the importance of policymakers being involved in these projects and how he can play a role as an architect to best reach the community’s needs.
“Another thing is just the resiliency of someone like Tim,” he said, “and having a large vision, and not compromising on what you believe is best for an area or community.”
Abdi Mohamed is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.