By Nancy Crotti || Finance & Commerce
When you’re on University Avenue, it’s difficult to tell where Minneapolis ends and St. Paul begins. The facade of 2700 University makes it easy, with the words “Saint Paul” in large letters near the rooftop.
The city of St. Paul was instrumental in making the mixed-income apartment building happen. City officials had wanted a vibrant use for the long-vacant site. Indianapolis-based developer Flaherty & Collins Properties wanted in on the Green Line light rail corridor’s multifamily housing boom, agreeing to make 20 percent of the building’s 248 units affordable. The Metropolitan Council, nonprofits Local Initiatives Support Corp. and National Equity Fund Inc., and BMO Harris Bank joined St. Paul’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority to secure funding.
The developer had to contend with light-rail traffic and proximity to neighboring condominium buildings. Financing was tricky, too. Flaherty & Collins Properties had to set up different entities to own the affordable and market-rate units.
All of the affordable units had been leased as of mid-June, according to Ryan Cronk, vice president of development at Flaherty & Collins Properties. Those units are mixed in among and indistinguishable from the market-rate apartments.
The building’s location across the street from the Green Line’s Westgate Station should attract commuters to the Hodges Bend coffee shop and bar, scheduled to open in 3,000 square feet of the building’s first floor in October, Cronk added. Residents can congregate in the 200,000-square-foot courtyard, with its saltwater swimming pool. An outdoor “bark park” includes a doggie fountain. Indoors, there’s a fitness room and yoga studio, and ample bike parking.
Flaherty & Collins Properties has applied for LEED Silver certification. Sustainable design features include an Energy Star roof and washer/dryers, low-flow fixtures, LED lighting, NEST thermostats and living walls where units are not facing the street. Landscaping was designed to reduce irrigation demand.
Meanwhile, the Hoosiers are sold on St. Paul.
“We’d love to do some more deals in St. Paul,” Cronk said. “We are looking for them at the moment.”
Address: 2700 University Ave., St. Paul
Project cost: $52 million
Project size: 345,000 square feet
Owner: Flaherty & Collins Properties, Indianapolis
Contractor: Kraus-Anderson Construction
Architect: Urban Works Architecture LLC
Engineers: Landform Professional Services LLC (civil and landscape architect); G2 Group (interior design); BKBM, (structural); Steen Engineering, (mechanical, electrical and plumbing)