Long-time Minneapolis developer Ray Harris moved into The Kenwood Retirement Community in January of 2020. After a fall, he spent a few months in the hospital and rehab, and returned to the Kenwood in March, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He says he is “making the best of it” but he is doing more than that.
He’s started a blog, “Been There, Done That, Took Notes.” It’s a love letter to Minneapolis, filled with stories about streetcars, offleash dog parks, baseball, Orchestra Hall and more, projects that Ray himself developed, or historic reminiscences. He writes out the content for the blog in longhand, and gives it to The Kenwood’s Executive Director, Jennifer Volkenant. She in turn scans it and sends it to Ray’s granddaughter and she and her uncle work out the technical aspects.
In addition to reminiscing about Minneapolis history, and his work as a developer, Ray intends to write about how to make things better in Minneapolis in the future. Ray’s hero is Don Quixote, and he often describes himself as a risk-taker and is known for taking on projects that others have said were ill-advised or impossible – the “Impossible Dream.” He has always been attracted to projects that will make Minneapolis a better place such as Calhoun Square, Greenway Gables, the Loring Park Off-Leash Dog Park, and Chiron School to name just a few. Ray continues to work as an advisor and consultant in real estate development.
When asked why he chose to move into The Kenwood Retirement Community, Ray said he’s lived his whole life in the neighborhood, and he likes the proximity to downtown and other amenities. The Kenwood is close to family, friends, and business associates, and even when people could not visit him indoors because of the pandemic, Ray has had a steady stream of visitors outdoors. The Kenwood has all the services he needs. He enjoys making his own meals, but also orders dinners from the Kenwood’s Lowry Hill Dining Room. When the weather is nice, he travels around the neighborhood in his “Lamborghini,” his motorized wheelchair. He enjoys visiting his building projects in the neighborhood, such as Manor Homes of Lowry Hill (Douglas School Townhouses) at Franklin and Dupont, and the Mount Curve Place townhomes.
Ray is fond of saying that he hasn’t worked a day in his life because he was his own boss and has enjoyed his work. And it’s clear he hasn’t retired. He especially likes putting people together; contractors, architects, politicians, whoever, and getting them to work together. Like his hobby of putting jigsaw puzzles together, Ray can see the big picture, but is also good at problem solving, facilitating, and paying attention to details. All of these qualities have helped him adjust to his life at the Kenwood and cope with the difficulties all of us have had to face during the pandemic. He says above the waist he is moving at 200 miles per hour, and below the waist, he is moving at 2 miles per hour. So if you see a gentleman tooling around the Lowry Hill neighborhood in his “Lamborghini” at well below the “20 is Plenty” speed limit, stop and chat with Ray. That is if you can get him to stop. He’s got ideas and irons in the fire!