In Minnesota, 12 indoor “cultural malls” have just won $3 million to help revitalize Main Streets in BIPOC neighborhoods

On November 23, 2021, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced recipients of the $3 million Minnesota Cultural Mall Operator Grants program, which was part of the $70 million Main Street COVID Relief Grant package that passed with bipartisan support in the Minnesota Legislature during the 2021 Session, and was signed into law by Governor Tim Walz.

Grants ranging from $20,000 to $300,000 will be awarded to 12 cultural mall operators across Minnesota, whose facilities lease space to a combined total of over 1,178 Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) business owners.

Cultural malls are incredible economic, cultural, and civic cornerstones of their communities – and they were significantly impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “These grants will provide much needed help to these malls and their communities, allowing them to maintain or grow jobs at a key inflection point in Minnesota’s economy.

Up to $25,000 of the grants identified below to cultural malls can be used for the operator’s own working capital expenses. The remaining grant must be distributed to their tenants in the form of rent forgiveness for previously owed rent or in the form of credit towards future rent. The maximum amount of rent credit or rent forgiveness an individual tenant can receive is $25,000.

To qualify, a cultural mall applicant must have met the following criteria:

  • The facility must be a privately owned permanent indoor retail space that meets the definition of “Covered Mall Building” under Minnesota Building Code, Minnesota Rules 1305, Chapter 2;
  • The facility must lease space to 12 or more current tenants;
  • Be a facility in which 50% or more of the tenant businesses are any of the following types of businesses: retail stores, drinking and dining establishments, entertainment and/or amusement facilities;
  • Be a facility in which 50% or more of tenant businesses are majority owned by one or more individuals who identify as one or more of the following racial or ethnic categories: Black, African American, Asian or Pacific Islanders, Hispanic, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, or other racial or ethnic minority; and
  • The facility must be owned by a resident of Minnesota.

Owners of more than one Cultural Mall facility are eligible to receive up to $300,000 per separate Cultural Mall facility. By law a single Cultural Mall facility cannot receive more than the maximum award of $300,000. Award amounts were determined based on the 2019 operating revenues of the mall up to the maximum grant of $300,000.

Here are the recipients of the Cultural Mall Operator Grants:

  • Karmel Plaza, Karmel Properties, LLC., Minneapolis: $300,000
  • 24 Mall, 24 Mall LLC., Minneapolis: $300,000
  • Hmong Village Shopping Center, Hmong Village, Inc., St. Paul: $300,000
  • Hmongtown Market Place, Hmongtown Market Place LLC. St. Paul: $300,000
  • Plaza Mexico, Lake Plaza LLC., Minneapolis, $300,000
  • Midtown Global Market, Midtown Global Market LLC., Minneapolis, $300,000
  • Mercado Central, Mercado Central LLC. Minneapolis, $300,000
  • Century Plaza, Century Plaza LLC., St Paul, $300,000
  • Riverside Mall, Riverside Mall Inc., Minneapolis, $300,000
  • JigJiga Business Center, Jigjiga Business Center LLC., Minneapolis: $200,000
  • Midtown Plaza, New Minnesotan Realty, LLC., Willmar, MN: $80,000
  • International Mall, FMJ Mall Inc., Rochester, $20,000

The total benefit each tenant can receive equals each tenant’s percentage share of the total monthly rent of all existing tenants in a facility multiplied by the total amount of funds available for rent forgiveness or credit. To receive benefits through the cultural mall operator grant, a tenant must meet the same eligibility requirements as applicants for the Main Street COVID Relief Grants.

Photo of the Midtown Global Market is courtesy of the Lake Street Council.

See Minnesota Cultural Mall Operator Grants website.

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