The demolition of the Purina Mills site at 38th Street and Hiawatha Avenue should be complete by the end of June, and the Longfellow Station development should begin construction almost immediately after the site is cleared.
Southside Pride reported two years ago that the Longfellow Community Council and Capital Growth Real Estate had signed a Community Benefits Agreement that insured that the development company would be eligible for some part of the Metropolitan Council’s $8.8 million Liveable Communities Grants. Dennis Geisinger reported:
“An open house on June 4 at Brackett Park celebrated the announcement with food and beverages, a review of the final version of the CBA and an introduction to the most recent Longfellow Station plans with all the latest available information.
” ‘I came up with the idea three years ago,’ said Joel, whose St. Paul entrepreneurial firm, Capital Growth Real Estate, designed site plans in conjunction with representatives of the neighborhood. According to Joel, new construction will include 197 rental units, 115, or around 60 percent, of which will be affordable housing as defined by the state-rent which requires not more than 30 percent of a family or individual’s gross income at or below 50 percent of the Metropolitan Area Median Income (MMI). According to figures provided by the Metropolitan Council, the area median income for the seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul area this year, adjusted by HUD and applicable to a family of four, is $80,900.
“According to the Met, monthly gross rent including tenant-paid utilities, affordable at 50 percent of area median income, for a four-bedroom apartment is $1,172 a month. With the same criteria, two bedrooms would rent for $910 a month and a one bedroom would go for $758 a month.”
|to the Longfellow Station|
According to Kim Jakus, the staff person who worked with residents to finalize the agreement two years ago, there will now be 196 units. There will be no three-bedroom units in the plan, and only 40 units will be offered at 50 percent of the MMI and 34 units at 60 percent of the MMI. That means the number of affordable housing units has declined from 115, or 60 percent in the original plan, to 74, or about 38 percent of the current plan.
Because the funding source switched to HUD, the amount of retail space available was reduced from 40,000 square feet to 10,000.
Jakus says the rest of the amenities agreed to in the CBA still seem to be in place. Capital Growth has agreed to “provide free one-month transit passes to residential tenants and to ensure that transit fare can be purchased onsite. The development must also include bicycle storage and parking facilities, and dedicated parking spaces for zip cars. Additionally, the development will have limited amounts of parking for personal automobiles, and parking spaces will be leased separately from residential units, giving tenants good reasons not to drive.
“Walking and bicycle paths are required, as are traffic calming infrastructure improvements to protect pedestrians and bicyclists. The paths are to be complemented by landscaped public gathering spaces. Longfellow Station must also incorporate a number of walkability and placemaking principles, such as designing the project at a human scale, using urban rather than suburban architecture, limiting blank walls, using high quality exterior building materials, and screening loading docks and trash areas.”
It looks like the committed citizens of the Longfellow Community Council got the best possible plan they could in negotiations two years ago, and State and Local governments gave the developers millions of dollars to make it happen, but the economy collapsed and the development was put on hold. Construction costs have been reduced. The plan has been modified. But it looks like the final result should be a significant contribution to development in South Minneapolis, a welcome complement to transit, and a neighborhood and environmentally-friendly monument to cooperation on Hiawatha Avenue for years to come.
Good-by Purina. Hello Longfellow Station!