Affordable housing development next to Van Cleve Park almost complete


The 85-unit affordable housing development at the Bunge grain elevator site next to Van Cleve Park is on schedule to be completed by the end of April. But a 151-unit condo development at the same location has been put on hold because of the struggling housing market.

The entire site consists of two supportive rental buildings, five Habitat for Humanity townhouses and the 151-unit high-rise in a renovated Bunge Tower that has yet to be developed.

Charlotte Commons , one of the affordable housing rental buildings, is complete and currently hosts 35 families.

The second building, which has 50 units, is under construction and is expected to be completed by April 26 .

The two buildings are a collaboration between Project for Pride and Living (PPL) and Cabrini Partnership .

PPL is a nonprofit community development agency that helps low-income individuals and families develop and sustain quality affordable housing with hopes that they become self-sufficient.

Cabrini Partnership assists people who have completed alcohol or chemical dependency treatment. People from the Cabrini Partnership will occupy a total of 20 units between the two buildings.

Alicia Ramey moved into one of the Cabrini units with her 17-year-old son in Charlotte Commons last September, and says she is thankful for a place to live.

“It’s such a blessing,” Ramey said. “This time last year I was standing at the Salvation Army shelter.”

Southeast Como Improvement Association board president, Wendy Menken , said the neighborhood is “generally” very happy with the development and that SECIA is supportive of it.

However, Menken said, with the addition of the 236-unit development, the added density could pose problems for the area.

“There’s a little bit of worry that it’s going to put a tremendous amount of usage pressure on that park … transportation grids and on services,” Menken said.

She said that over the years Van Cleve has not been able to afford to provide as many services to the community as it used to.

Menken also said there was a sense that PPL didn’t do a great job of marketing the units to the surrounding community.

Shalaunda Holmes , PPL project manager, said PPL did not market to anyone. People found out about the development through word of mouth, she said.

Holmes said PPL received 200 applications for the 50-unit building.

Menken said that since the buildings are handicap accessible, they might have appealed to fixed-income senior citizens who are looking to stay in the neighborhood.

Chad Dipman, Land Acquisition Project Manager for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity , said the families who will live in the five townhouses have been selected and will move in when the properties are registered in April or May.

He said it serves families who make between 30 and 50 percent of the area’s median income.

James De Sota, SECIA neighborhood coordinator, said that when the condos are complete, they would be a great place for graduate students and University of Minnesota faculty.