Former NBA star plans to build apartments in a Minneapolis warehouse
Former NBA player Devean George is planning to create a modular construction plant near Target Field to build apartment units.
Why it matters: The plant would provide 315 jobs with easy access for North Minneapolis residents. It would also bring cutting edge construction technology inside the city, which some say will lower the cost of housing.
How it works: Crews would work in climate-controlled warehouses to assemble entire apartment units, from the frame and drywall all the way down to toilets, sinks and appliances. Those "mods" are then trucked to development sites where they are stacked by a crane, then wired and plumbed.
- Faster construction would lower development costs, since developers would be paying less interest on a construction loan. Modular builders and architects say the warehouses are safer and don't require workers to relocate to project sites.
- Another local company, RISE Modular, started building modular units in an Owatonna plant in 2020.
Details: George's company, North Group LLC, is planning to lease and retrofit an old warehouse at 415 Royalston Avenue. It hopes to be running by 2024 and offer wages starting at $31 an hour by 2025, according to a city memo.
- On Monday, a city committee approved a $2 million loan for the $19 million project. George is also seeking matching funds from Hennepin County and DEED.
Catch up quick: George is from North Minneapolis, went to Augsburg and won three NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.
- He came back to Minneapolis after his basketball career and became a developer with a focus on the North Side.
- To start, his proposed modular plant would construct 200 units for a project he's working on in Brooklyn Park, as well as hundreds more units at the Upper Harbor Terminal site along the North Minneapolis riverfront.
What he's saying: George told a city committee he wants to create the plant to give back to the community that raised him.
- "The same people that nurtured me and helped me be successful — now they're asking for jobs. Now they're asking for housing. So I wanted to build a business and to rebuild our city, which I love so much."
The players: George is working with architects Dean Dovolis and Jamil Ford. Dovolis is a local, national and international modular architect and Ford is an active architect on the North Side.
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