Habitat for Humanity, Episcopal Housing plan new projects on University Avenue in St. Paul


As Central Corridor construction continues, two major new construction projects are planned for the Iris Park area in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity and Episcopal Homes presented their plans to a community meeting of about a dozen people at Iris Park on July 17. Both the relocated Habitat for Humanity Twin Cities headquarters and the new Episcopal Homes residences will be located within easy walking distance of the Fairview light rail stop.

Mary Shumacher, Habitat for Humanity Chief Operating Officer said, “A big part of our decision to move here was the advantages the light rail offers for our employees, but also for the families, volunteers and community members that come into our new site.”

Habitat for Humanity’s current Twin Cities main office is located a block off University Avenue on 4th Street, but Shumacher says, “Having this location, which is also equal distance between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, is perfect.”

Habitat’s new site is the old commercial property known as the Zimmerman Building at Prior Street and University Avenue. Already, Habitat for Humanity has salvaged 26,000 pounds of materials, such as air-conditioners, doors, windows, and flooring during construction. The salvaged materials, along with other home furnishings, are sold at their ReStore in New Brighton, where contractors and landlords, as well as the public, can buy at discounted prices.

The new Episcopal apartments will be an addition to the homes already established at East Lynnhurst and Feronia Avenue. The building plan is described in a recent newsletter as “broken into one, three, four, five and seven-story sections, with the tallest sections stepped well back from the street.”

The 170 new living units represent a 60 percent increase over current capacity. Paul Hagen, Episcopal Homes Communications Director said, “Basically, there’s a big need for more of everything we do.”

Hagen describes the first new residence, called the Terrace at Iris Park as “catered living, which is more flexible than assisted living.” The second residence, Midway Pointe, will be independent living for low-income seniors. The third, Green House at Episcopal Church Home, contains skilled nursing in long-term care and memory care. A public coffee shop on the corner of East Lynnhurst will also be a part of the development.

Iris Park area resident Kyle Erdmann said he sees the neighborhood changing a lot. The attraction of the new light rail, housing facilities, and presence of organizations may help eliminate any crime or bad activity in the neighborhood.

Both Habitat for Humanity and Episcopal developments are set to begin building in the spring and summer of 2013 and to be completed in 2014 along with the light rail.

Sarah Kidwell, Executive Director of the Union Park District Council said that, because light rail construction on that part of University Avenue will be completed by 2013, there should not be too much impact on the Habitat for Humanity and Episcopal Homes construction.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.