*A former NBA star is giving back to his hometown of North Minneapolis.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Devean George is teaming with a former classmate to build an affordable housing unit in North Minneapolis.
The Commons @ Penn Avenue, located at the corner of Penn Avenue and Golden Valley Road, will soon be home to 47 affordable apartment homes. A high-traffic area known for violence and crime, the stretch of real estate is being converted into a place where people can live, shop and thrive in the heart of North Minneapolis.
“Housing, I believe, is the foundation to doing whatever you want to do,” George told CBS Minneapolis. “If you don’t have stable housing, you’re not worried about education, you’re not worried about eating healthy, you’re not worried about anything else.”
George’s father lives two blocks away from the project. He and his childhood friend, architect Jamil Ford, dreamed about this endeavor and are now making it a reality.
“We grew up here,” said George. “We grew up together. We grew up on these streets. We grew up on these corners. We grew up catching the bus right here. So this is kind of a special project to us.”
People here have to travel miles to a grocery store. That’s why the project includes a grocery co-op. For George, this is all about creating a space where people can have the amenities needed to thrive.
“That’s what people look for when they go live in a neighborhood,” George said. “Where’s my grocery store? Where is my movie theater? Where can we go eat? Where can our kids go play at a park? And this was just a place where there is just housing.”
The entire first floor of the development is dedicated to after-school programs for children who live there.
“This is just the start,” George said. “This is just the catalyst of everything that’s going to go on.”