Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mpls Council clears way for downtown Catholic Charities housing project

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The Minneapolis City Council approved a land sale Friday morning that will help clear the way for a new nonprofit housing project near downtown Minneapolis. Plans for the Monsignor J. Jerome Boxleitner Place call for 74 units of supportive housing and homeless shelter accommodations for another 196 people.

The project is named for Monsignor Boxleitner, now director emeritus of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. That organization has tapped the nonprofit Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC) to act as developer for the $22 million project.

The council approved selling a triangular, city-owned parcel at 165 Glenwood Ave. for $835,000; the 1.4 acre site is currently used by the Public Works Department for vehicle and equipment storage. But there are still some uncertainties about the project.

Catholic Charities has assembled $13.25 million in financing for the supportive housing part of the project. The bulk of that money, $12.75 million, is slated to be provided by bonds from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. But the organization does not yet have funding in place for two floors of shelter space and one floor of “medical respite” space.

“We want to do the project all at one time,” said Tracy Berglund, senior director of housing and emergency services for Catholic Charities. “We’re working on the other three floors. We’re implementing a plan to fundraise to get some of that.”

Boxleitner Place is slated to replace the current Catholic Charities shelter, Secure Waiting Place, at 1000 Currie Ave. N. The facility, which opened in 1995 as a temporary shelter, now houses 251 people and is full every night.

The site for the new project is adjacent to two existing Catholic Charities housing projects: The Glenwood Residence, which provides 80 units of housing for chronic alcoholics, and The Evergreen, an 88-unit building for low-income single adults.

The city’s Public Works department hopes to continue to using its site until the beginning of June 2010. If the developer fails to close by July 1, 2010, the city can terminate the contract. The deal also requires Catholic Charities to have a purchase agreement to sell the 1000 Currie site by June 2010. The city council approved the sale on a unanimous 12-0 vote Friday morning without fanfare or discussion.

“The new facility is another way Catholic Charities continues to meet the growing need in our community. We look forward to providing more dignified emergency shelter and permanent housing for those who are most in need,” said Rev. John Estrem, CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in a statement on the council’s action.

The current project began when developer Bob Lux approached Catholic Charities in 2006 to ask if the nonprofit would consider relocating Secure Waiting Space to accommodate redevelopment. Lux’s firm, Minneapolis-based Alatus Partners, won approval from the state legislature to create a unique tax increment finance (TIF) district in the area that would help fund the relocation of Secure Waiting.

A Lux partnership owns the site of the former Ramada Inn, which sits across the street from 1000 Currie Avenue N. Lux’s site is bounded by Currie Avenue North, Hawthorne Avenue East, 11th Street North and 10th Street North.

Lux said that he remains interested in putting a project together. “We continue to look at potentials for redevelopment all around those sites,” Lux said. But in the current economy, nothing is moving forward. “We really have suspended working on that project,” Lux said. Finance and Commerce

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