About Redesign

REDESIGN IS A NONPROFIT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (CDC) ESTABLISHED IN 1969.

We are dedicated to improving the Seward and Greater Longfellow neighborhoods of South Minneapolis. Redesign Inc. provides comprehensive community development services including housing and commercial real estate development, infrastructure advocacy, business development, and program administration. We sustain our work through philanthropic support, government contracts, and earned fees in real estate development.

 

OUR SERVICE AREA

Redesign is a geographically based CDC working in the Seward and Greater Longfellow neighborhoods of south Minneapolis. Our service area is bounded by Hiawatha Avenue (west), I-94 (north), the Mississippi River (east), and Minnehaha Creek (south).

 

OUR MISSION

Redesign engages the energy and creativity of residents and businesses to implement development that responds to community priorities and creates living-wage jobs, affordable housing, and a vibrant local economy.

 

OUR VISION

We envision the neighborhoods where we work as healthy, diverse, and sustainable communities where all people have the opportunity to thrive.

 

OUR VALUES

Redesign believes in coalition building, and is working in partnership with REACH Twin Cities to guide, connect, and communicate our work. We believe in the REACH Principals below:

 Say His Name

We must continually and appropriately acknowledge that this effort has been brought about by the murder of George Floyd, which has advanced a catalytic call for justice and equity.

Recovery & Renewal

More than rebuilding and replacing what was, business owners, property owners, and residents need a recovery that enables BIPOC communities to operate from a place of strength, ownership, health, and wholeness. This will foster a season of renewal that is fresh and vibrant – one that deconstructs inequity in development and furthers true community well-being.

Measurable Progress

Outcomes must be foremost. We need commitment to transparency, accountability and material advancement in policies and funding to drive measurable progress; progress that centers – is with, for, and determined by – those who identify as BIPOC.

Wellness is Key

Every community deserves to be well – to be whole. This is a foundational need for any community, and requires people, places, and businesses to support one another and be healthy in the process. With each decision that relates to the recovery and renewal of businesses and properties affected by the unrest, the question must be asked and answered: “How can this support wellness within BIPOC communities?”

Center BIPOC Voices

In consolidating cross-sector energy and resolve to build more than just a vision of equity, BIPOC voices, BIPOC leaders, and BIPOC organizations must be centered and invested in. Partners and allies in this work are committed to producing healing, ownership, and generational wealth for those who identify as BIPOC.

Redesign-Community-Map_NEW

Redesign’s Service Area Map, courtesy of the U of M’s Center for Urban & Regional Affairs (CURA).

MEET REDESIGN

Executive Director

Christopher Romano

Senior Project Manager

Renee Spillum

Project Manager

Taylor Cooper

Program Manager, Corridor Activation

Brigid Higgins

Property Manager

Alan Petroski

Senior Manager, Small Business Lending and Growth

Hibo Abdi

Executive Director

Christopher Romano

Chris joined the Redesign team in 2020 with extensive leadership and management experience. Most recently he was the Director of Strategic Operations for Thrivent Holdings, where he was an integral member of the team that launched the start-up division and a founding member of Thrivent’s Diversity and Inclusion enterprise cohort. Prior to Thrivent, Chris served as Executive Director for the Riverview Economic Development Association, he developed and led a program for Latino youth at La Oportunidad (Minneapolis) and served with the Peace Corps in Nicaragua as a Small Business Development Consultant. Chris was the recipient of a Bush Fellowship from the Bush Foundation and he attended the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota where he received a Masters of Business Administration degree. During his time at the Carlson School, he was recognized as a National Society of Hispanic MBAs Fellow and as a Sunquist Global MBA Fellow. Chris currently serves as Chairman of the Latino Economic Development Center and is on the Board of Directors for Exodus Lending. Chris lives in Southeast Minneapolis with his wife Kerry and their children Elena, Danny and Joey.

Email:chris@redesigninc.org

Phone:612.435.0275

Senior Project Manager

Renee Spillum

Renee joined the Redesign team in 2011. Her work is focused on commercial leasing, new development projects and small business development. She also has expertise in and solar energy projects. Prior to joining the Redesign team, Renee was an independent consultant working in research and program evaluation with non-profits and neighborhood groups. Renee has a B.A. in Sociology and Master of Public Policy degree from the Humphrey Institute with a focus in Housing and Community Development. She is a licensed commercial real estate broker.

Email:renee@redesigninc.org

Phone:612.435.0279

Project Manager

Taylor Cooper

 Taylor joined the Redesign team in 2020. Her work is focused on the intersection of real estate development, architecture, urban-focused design and, community orientation. She believes that the development process itself adds beauty in creating occupiable art. Prior to joining the Redesign team, Taylor has worked in mixed-use development at The Excelsior Group; in both commercial real estate and architecture at THOR Companies and; office renovations at RSP Architects. She also worked in residential architecture at Nelson Architects; commercial mortgages at Capital One and; assisted homeowners during the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) after the 2008 crisis while at Dorner Law & Title Services. Her passion is real estate development that not only satisfies investors but also, uplifts end users from all walks of life. She values the full urban experience and gets excited about large & difficult mixed-use developments that feature mixed income housing. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Northeastern University and a Master of Real Estate Development from the University of Maryland. 

Email:taylor@redesigninc.org

Phone:612.435.0278

Program Manager, Corridor Activation

Brigid Higgins

Brigid joined the Redesign team in 2018. She manages Redesign’s façade improvement grants and Business District Support programs. She is an experienced multidisciplinary designer and enjoys using her creative skills to advance projects that promote small business development and inspire commercial corridor health. Brigid is also a freelance visual artist with a background in education, public art, and arts administration. She has previously held positions with the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Intermedia Arts, and in Minneapolis Public Schools. She serves on the board of directors for the Seward Civic and Commerce Association, as well as the Whittier Alliance. Brigid graduated from The University of Minnesota as a Community Engagement Scholar, with a B.A. in Urban Studies and Studio Art, and a minor in Social Justice. 

Email:brigid@redesigninc.org

Phone:612.877.8171

Property Manager

Alan Petroski

Alan joined the Redesign team in 2015. He manages tenant leases and administration, monitors day-to-day operations of properties and implements construction improvement projects. Prior to joining Redesign, Alan worked for more than twenty years with tenants, owners, and brokers, managing, renovating, leasing and selling commercial and residential buildings throughout the metro area. Alan is a licensed real estate agent and a graduate of Metropolitan State University. 

Email:alan@redesigninc.org

Phone:612.435.0276

Senior Manager, Small Business Lending and Growth

Hibo Abdi

Hibo joined the Redesign team in 2021.  Her work is focused on developing, implementing and growing Seward Redesign’s lending program including planning, budgeting, fundraising, implementing programs and operations, as well as program marketing.  Prior to joining Redesign, Hibo worked for African Development Center (ADC) where she was responsible for supporting a portfolio of businesses as well as soliciting and servicing prospective and current clients to produce a variety of business loans. She was also involved with generating and managing a portfolio of non-loan business and corresponding relationships. Hibo worked with loan officers to underwrite, structure and document loans per the ADC’s policy and assisted loan officers by offering other appropriate services provided by ADC. She maintained relationship with all loan partner organizations and supported day-to-day business lending and operations for ADC and its subsidiaries. Hibo holds a Master’s degree (MBA) in International Business from Hamline University, MN and a Bachelor of Arts, in Health Science and Management from George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. 

Email:hibo@redesigninc.org

Phone:612.877.8170

MEET THE REDESIGN BOARD

Redesign’s volunteer Board of Directors is a vital part of our success. All of our board members live or work in the Seward and Longfellow communities. They bring to the organization many years of experience in community development, affordable housing, public service, urban planning, finance and lending, education, design, construction, neighborhood organizing, small business ownership, transit-oriented development, and nonprofit administration.

Carol Carrier

Anna Growcott

Vice President - Development

Andy Hestness

Treasurer

Tadd Kelly

Edward Landenberger

President

Sheldon Mains

Ewart Martens

Tony Scallon

D’Angelos Svenkeson

Secretary

Suzanne Weinstein

Christine Diindiisi McCleave, M.A.

Carol Carrier

Carol is an administrator and faculty member at the University of Minnesota. Carol moved to Seward in 1976, and was one of the first buyers of restored homes in the Milwaukee Avenue historic district. Carol has served on the Seward Redesign board since 1998 and was board President from 2012-2016. She also serves on the Board of Directors for MplsAchieve, a non-profit organization that supports the Minneapolis Public Schools. 

Anna Growcott

Anna is the Director of Artspace Consulting, a division of Artspace Projects, a national nonprofit developer for the arts. She consults with municipalities and arts organizations to help advance their plans for sustainable and affordable creative spaces. Prior to moving to Seward in 2012, she spent a decade living in China, New York City, and Australia, working in education and the performing arts. Anna also serves on the Board of Directors for ARENA Dances, a contemporary dance company in Minneapolis. 

Vice President - Development

Andy Hestness

Andy is Principal Project Manager with the City of St Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development, working with business development and property sales. He has a long history with the Franklin Avenue corridor, having worked for both the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) and Redesign on the Franklin LRT Station area development and other community projects. Andy has a background in architecture, real estate, construction management and community development. 

Treasurer

Tadd Kelly

Tadd is a Vice President and Credit Manager/Team Lead at Wells Fargo in the SBA Lending Division. He joined Wells Fargo in 1990 and received his degree in Finance from the University of St. Thomas (1993). Tadd also secured his MBA in Finance and Strategic Management from the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota in 1996. Tadd’s work at Wells Fargo focuses on small business loans, including underwriting financing and interpreting financial statements for a wide variety of industry types, as well as managing construction loans. Tadd has previously volunteered with Nokomis Healthy Seniors, MN Red Ribbon Ride, Open Arms of MN, Habitat for Humanity and Feed My Starving Children. Tadd moved to Seward in 1998 and joined the Redesign Development Committee in June of 2012. 

Edward Landenberger

Eddie is a Vice President at the Land Bank Twin Cities, where he manages strategic acquisitions and acquisition loan programs. He identifies and purchases commercial real estate to create economic and real estate development opportunities for non-profit and private developers. Eddie is also a founder and Real Estate Broker at Assembly MN, a Twin Cities commercial real estate brokerage firm. Eddie’s career is full of development and project management experiences. He was a Senior Project Manager at Redesign from 2008 to 2014. Eddie is a Civil Engineer. 

President

Sheldon Mains

Sheldon provides consulting services to nonprofit organizations and foundations on technology, communications, management, and program transfers between organizations. Sheldon was a founder of SPOKES Bike Walk Connect, a program to promote biking and walking. His eclectic background also includes working on energy and environmental policy for three governors and six years of engineering design in the building industry. Sheldon has served as Chair of the Seward Neighborhood Group, the Twin Cities Media Alliance and the Minneapolis Telecommunications Network. He has also served on the Minneapolis Planning Commission, Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation, the Minneapolis Library Board and the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. Sheldon is currently Secretary/Treasurer of the Seward Towers Corporation board. He and his wife, Bev, have lived in their 98 year old home in Seward for over 30 years and just completed their first 5 year remodeling plan (25 years after starting it). 

Ewart Martens

Ewart is a co-owner of Mill City Builders, LLP, a design/build residential remodeling firm that has been in business since 1994. Mill City Builders specializes in renovations and additions to older homes in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The company combines an appreciation for the existing home with thoughtful design, solid workmanship, great attention to detail and quality materials. Ewart was originally from Germany, has been a resident in the US since 1988 and has lived in Seward since 1996. Ewart’s interest in Redesign stems from his wider interest in development issues, an interest in design and construction and a desire to impact the community in positive ways. 

Tony Scallon

Tony currently serves on several charter school boards and is a vocational consultant to another. He is the retired superintendent for the Minnesota Transitions Charter School and its founder, and formerly served as Alternative Program Coordinator for the West St. Paul School District. Tony has previously served on the boards for the Longfellow Community Council, Federal Home Loan Bank and National Cooperative Bank, among others, and was a Minneapolis City Councilmember and a founder of Seward Redesign. 

D’Angelos Svenkeson

D’Angelos is a seasoned commercial real estate professional with solid experience in real estate development and acquisition. He is currently a Vice President at THOR Construction Inc. guiding the creation of a new division responsible for development, investment and brokerage of commercial real estate. D’Angelos was a Redesign employee from 2014 through 2016 and is closely familiar with its operations and projects. 

Secretary

Suzanne Weinstein

Susanne is the founder and former owner of Coastal Seafoods. She started the business in 1981, moving to Seward in 1985. Coastal Seafoods has two successful retail stores and a wholesale business, supplying the Twin Cities and surrounding area restaurants and grocery stores with the best fresh and frozen fish and seafood. In 2015, Suzanne was named one of the Top Women in Business by the Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal. Suzanne also has a background in banking, prior to opening her own business, and serves on the Seward Civic & Commerce Association’s board. 

Christine Diindiisi McCleave, M.A.

An enrolled citizen of Turtle Mountain Ojibwe Nation is Chief Executive Officer for the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. She is a leader and an activist for Indigenous Rights, advocating for truth, justice, and healing for the genocidal policy of U.S. Indian Boarding Schools. Diindiisi McCleave previously worked for Indian Land Tenure Foundation, has a master of arts in leadership from Augsburg University, and a bachelor of science in communication studies from Northwestern University. She has dedicated her life and work to pursuing truth and healing for the Indigenous survivors of historical and inter-generational trauma at the hands of colonialism and settler-states. She is one of the primary investigators for the “Child Removal in Native Communities: An Anonymous Survey,” and, recently, was instrumental in writing H.R.8420 – Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy Act—the first bill ever introduced to for a commission addressing boarding school policy in the U.S. She is also a member of the Truth and Reconciliation working group for the City of Minneapolis.

OUR HISTORY

REDESIGN (FORMERLY SEWARD WEST REDESIGN) GOT ITS START IN 1969

as an outgrowth of opposition to the “urban renewal” of Seward West and the proposed demolition of homes on Milwaukee Avenue.

THE EARLY YEARS: SEWARD WEST REDESIGN

In the late 1960s, the City of Minneapolis and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development prepared an urban renewal plan for the west half of the Seward neighborhood. The plan called for demolishing most of the homes in this working-class area, including what is now the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District, to provide land for new development.

2107 Milwaukee Avenue circa 1910 (photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society)

Milwaukee Avenue in 1974 (photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society)

However, in 1969 an ad hoc group of residents secured wide-spread neighborhood support to successfully fight the urban renewal plan. They went on to rehab or develop 42 units of housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families over the next five years, without an office or paid staff. These were the founders of what today is known as Seward Redesign.

Modern Day Milwaukee Avenue circa 2007 (photo by Kate Madson)

From 1973 to 1985, Redesign successfully rehabilitated or constructed 164 units of affordable housing, valued at $7 million in 1994. The two Seward Towers, East and West, are a powerful example of the role that an organization like Redesign can play in the preservation of affordable housing. Click here to learn more about the Seward Towers Affordable Housing Partnership.

In 1985, the Board of Directors decided to expand Redesign’s mission to address the broader economic development needs of the neighborhood. As a result, Redesign reorganized as a Community Development Corporation (CDC) under the State of Minnesota.

 

GEOGRAPHICALLY-BASED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Economic development includes a broad range of activity that improves the economic health of the community. As the CDC for Seward and the Greater Longfellow community, Redesign is an “engine” that drives four closely related aspects of local economic development: affordable housing, infrastructure planning and advocacy, commercial and industrial development, and neighborhood business district vitality.

While each of these aspects of our economy is equally important, progress in any one area depends to some extent on progress in each of the others. That’s why it’s important to have a community-based organization that can coordinate and manage economic development activity with the best interests of the neighborhood at heart. This is the role Redesign plays in Seward and Greater Longfellow.

As a CDC, Redesign is a catalyst for change and an effective connection to resources in the Twin Cities community. Our effectiveness depends upon the strength of the partnerships we forge: with business and non-profits, with government agencies, and our community resources. Redesign nurtures deep, positive relationships with the Seward Neighborhood Group and the Longfellow Community Council. We assisted in the formation of the Seward Civic and Commerce Association, which continues to operate out of Redesign’s offices and work closely with the Longfellow Business Association.

Redesign’s work has transformed our neighborhoods’ commercial corridors: East Franklin Avenue, East Lake Street, and Minnehaha Avenue. Key real estate interventions such as project management of Seward Co-op’s expansion and relocation and redevelopment of 3300 East Lake (Sonora Grill and Repair Lair) have been catalytic. Those achievements are complemented by numerous smaller-scale projects such as façade grants, brokerage services, and design assistance. Because we are focused on specific geographic locations, Redesign can support these vibrant, stable business districts that are a huge part of what makes Seward and Longfellow great places to live and do business.

Today, Redesign owns and manages 105,000 square feet of space at 9 commercial properties, home to 44 diverse tenants, 77% of them owned by women, immigrants, and/or people of color. In the last ten years alone, we have developed and preserved 776 units of affordable housing. With a focus on women, immigrants, and people of color-owned enterprises, Redesign has recruited dozens of new businesses, provided seven low-interest revolving loans, and overseen 80+ façade improvement grants, among other types of support.

We encourage you to explore more of our history and accomplishments:

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