Just as development news is ramping up regarding one of the the cities biggest eyesores, a tragedy happens. This isn’t the first time, however it does appear to be the first time it isn’t acknowledged.
The former Fruen/ConAgra mill located in the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood of Minneapolis has been rotting away for over 40 years. Ambitious development plans have come and gone, it seems everyone has just learned to live with the broken windows and the graffiti facade. Located right next to a large park and a beautiful creek, it’s not uncommon to see neighborhood families walking their dogs right around the property that sits within feet of Bassett Creek. Along with being a large graffiti magnet and an attraction for those looking for an adventure, it hasn’t been without it’s tragedies. In 2005, an 18 year-old from Robbinsdale falls 70 feet into the empty silo and somehow survives. Almost a year to the day later, a 32 year old from Burnsville falls through a hole in the floor to his death.
Fast forward to November, 2013 and plans are heating up. For the first time in what seems like almost a decade, serious plans are in motion to finally revitalize some of the property. On November 14th, Senior City Planner for the City of Minneapolis sends a memo(view memo) out to the Planning Commission and Committee of the Whole members with the intent to introduce the project to the Planning Commission. Plans(view plans) are also submitted showing the land use.
Just weeks later on December 5th at midnight, the Minneapolis Police Department gets a call from the Eden Prairie Police Department requesting a welfare check. Police records explain how the man’s phone records show his phone actively pinging towers near Fruen. When the Officers arrive on the scene they find a 33 year old man from Eden Prairie with signs of an apparent fall from the roof. He’s transported to HCMC and dies from his injuries. From those familiar with the situation, I am told he fell through a floor while taking photos and it was an accident. Regardless of the cause or circumstances, someone lost their life here, and it shouldn’t have happened.
It is now December 17th and there has been no mention anywhere of the situation. Previous incidents at the Fruen mill as well as the Bunge Mill in Dinkytown have all been heavily publicized, including front page news items. What makes this situation any different? Does it have anything to do with future development prospects of the property? Is it because the city does not want to publicize this kind of activity? If that’s the case, I believe it makes more sense to speak on the risks of entering a building like this than to ignore the dangers. Of course, one could argue the media attention given to the man that fell 70 feet down the Fruen mill grain silo in October 2005 led to the deaths of 2 others in January 2006 and October 2006. Bottom line is, there are real risks exploring these buildings and these stories can and should be wake up calls for anyone. Both those in the community as well as those curious adventurers who may not be thinking of what the consequences are.
One other thing of note, as this is being written, a story of a man being found dead under the Stone Arch Bridge is dominating local news. His cause of death has not been announced.
For those that are not familiar with the Fruen Mill, it isn’t too far of a stretch to say it may be one of the most dangerous buildings in Minneapolis. While it’s common to refer to all vacant and/or abandoned properties as dangerous, the Fruen Mill is one that keeps on, for lack of a better term, killing. I am told by someone who has seen the inside the mill, that it’s in very rough shape. It’s completely gutted of almost all equipment and was destroyed years ago by extremely motivated metal scrapers. During both legal and illegal scrapping, large holes were created in the floors. To make things worse, the floors are also crumbling in these same areas. One of the appeals of a mill like this seems to be getting to the top for the view. Unfortunately, I am told that getting to the top is not as easy to just hit the stairs. Apparently, some of the stairs have the steps removed leaving some stairwells with just metal framing. Not to mention the stairs may not bring you to the top even if they were usable.
Authorities amazed teen survived fall (KSTP, October 21, 2005)
“Authorities in Minneapolis have rescued a young man who fell seven stories down an abandon grain silo in the Glenwood Springs area of north Minneapolis. The rescue operation started at around 2 a.m. and took about three hours. The young man–identified as Bryan Eric Anderson, 18, of Robbinsdale–apparently was with two companions at the top of a grain elevator on Minneapolis’ near north side when he fell 70 feet down the empty silo.”
Trespassing at elevators ends in fatal 100-foot fall (Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 30, 2006)
Germain Vigeant’s brother warned her a few weeks ago to stay away from the abandoned grain elevators just blocks from where she lived in southeast Minneapolis, but police said early Sunday that the 20-year-old woman trespassed onto private property, climbed 10 stories up an elevator and apparently fell to her death.
Burnsville man dies in fall at abandoned warehouse (Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 28, 2006)
“Ron Block – who was trespassing at an abandoned north Minneapolis warehouse died early Saturday after he fell through a hole in the floor according to police. The accident happened about 3 a.m. at the warehouse and grain elevator complex near Glenwood and Thomas Avenues N. The man, identified by a friend as Ron Block, 32, of Burnsville, was with three others wandering around the warehouse, police said. It was the second accident involving a trespasser at the former Fruen Milling Co. complex in a year. The buildings have recently been owned by ConAgra. In October 2005, an 18-year-old Robbinsdale man survived a 70-foot fall when trespassing there, police said. “