George Floyd Square is a place of healing, reflection and remembrance.
“The murder of George Floyd changed our world, changed our country, changed our city,” said Alexander Kado, Project Manager for the City of Minneapolis.
Last Wednesday marked one year since former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Bridgette Stewart – with the advocacy group AGAPE – remembers the anniversary well.
“It was raining that day, and I felt like the sky was crying and we were crying,” she says.
The memorial at 38and and Chicago – where Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020 – is visited by people from all over the world.
Their journeys are marked with colored pins displayed on a map.
Stewart says the sun came out on Thursday.
“We had so many people inside the plaza visiting and were just outside talking to different visitors,” she recalls. “I just gave myself that optimism back.”
On Saturday, Minneapolis Department of Public Works employees and city leaders held an open house about future plans for the square.
The project is called “38and and Chicago, Revisited.
“Rethink, redesign and rebuild the intersection with community stakeholders,” notes Kado. “That includes the street, sidewalks, curbs, gutter.”
Project leaders say there are no specific designs yet – but ideas include new sidewalks, street lighting, a potential link to bus service, and more.
“Also to provide greening, trees, boulevard,” says Kado. “We also want to explore pedestrian-friendly design options and also integrate public transit into this space as one of the design goals.”
The “Re-envisioned” project will not include plans for a permanent George Floyd memorial – that will be done separately.
But it will provide space for the memorial.
City officials say it will be a side project with street improvements — a national park space or monument are among the ideas being discussed — but there’s no timeline yet.
During this time, the city is committed to organizing a thorough public review process.
“It’s about what the community thinks, the people who live here, work here and are invested in this intersection, in these neighborhoods,” says Denetrick Powers, with real estate consultancy NEOO Partners – which does work community engagement for the project. “We will have a community co-creation team that will act as an advisory group for the project and help develop recommendations that will be submitted to City Council.”
If you have visited the square, you may have seen flowers planted here and there.
Jay Webb, nicknamed “the gardener” in this neighborhood, has been very busy.
He hopes these potential green spaces can be combined with a permanent memorial to George Floyd.
“Make Minneapolis even more beautiful – one seed at a time,” says Webb. “George Floyd Square is a green top. It is a green zone. An atrocity turned into a beautiful thing. An urban garden.
In a document released on Saturday, project leaders call George Floyd Square a “sacred place” – one that should be preserved for future generations.
Powers points out that this is just the start of a long review process – with construction – if approved – starting in 2024 at the earliest.
Stewart says she’s hopeful — that the streets now reopened are just the beginning.
A resurgence of a proud neighborhood – with strong roots in the black community. “It’s going to be more pedestrian, it seems, to allow people to walk on the sidewalk rather than on the street,” she says. “But if it becomes more of a vision of what the Nicollet Mall looks like, then the permanent memorial will be amazing, I think. It will have the opportunity to perfectly reflect the diversity that the 38th and Chicago corridor represents.