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One block from George Floyd Square, an affordable housing complex has blossomed on the campus of the historic Calvary Lutheran […]

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One block from George Floyd Square, an affordable housing complex has blossomed on the campus of the historic Calvary Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis 
In a sign of how much demand there is for such housing, all 41 units of the Belfry Apartments were leased in the first 16 days after construction was completed.

The developer, Trellis Management, put together funding from Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the State of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), to turn the concept into reality. 

“One of the things we heard over and over from folks is this project should be of the community, it should be for the community,” Dan Walsh, the vice president of housing development for Trellis, told KARE 11 News. 

The term “deeply affordable” refers to housing for those households that earn 30 percent or less of the area median income, or AMI. That 30 percent mark varies based on the size of the family. For example, it’s $26,000 for a single person and $37,000 for a family of four. 

The MPHA has dedicated site-specific Section 8 funding to the units, so the tenants will pay only one-third of their monthly income for rent. Some uses are accessible; others are for people leaving homelessness. 

Calvary Lutheran has stood at the corner of 39th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis since 1930, seven years after the church was formed. But the congregation steadily lost numbers in the past 50 years and could no longer afford the upkeep on the campus. 

Trellis agreed to lease the sanctuary back to the church members, so they can still hold services in the renovated space. 

“The congregation made the decision in May of 2021 to sell the building completely to Trellis to build affordable housing here in our neighborhood,” said Sarah Shepherd, Calvary’s president. 

Trellis added a new 20-unit building behind the church and converted the church’s education wing into a 21-unit building. That required a complete overhaul of the building’s HVAC and plumbing. The developer reconfigured the sanctuary into flexible meeting spaces while maintaining the historic integrity of the building. 

The fact that the English Gothic Revival church building is on the National Register of Historic Places limited what changes could be made to its appearance. For instance, the stained-glass windows couldn’t be replaced with more energy-efficient ones. 

But Calvary’s historic status also enabled Trellis to tap into special grants tailored to projects that preserve such structures. 

(Source: KARE 11 News) 

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