Redeemer Arms gets new owner, renovations planned

One of the Twin Cities’ oldest and largest supportive housing facilities will be under new ownership. Redeemer Arms, which is […]

One of the Twin Cities’ oldest and largest supportive housing facilities will be under new ownership. Redeemer Arms, which is located at 313 N. Dale St., will be sold to Minneapolis-based Community Development Housing Corporation (CDHC). The five-story building will also be renovated. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, allocated $1 million in Invest St. Paul supportive housing funds toward the project this summer.

Janet Pope is a consultant to CHDC. “We’re excited about the possibilities for Redeemer Arms,” she said. The intent is to continue to serve the “very, very low-income” population already living there.

The plans to rehabilitate the building call for significant updates, which will improve the residents’ quality of life. Having $1 million from the city will allow the developers to leverage other funding, said Pope.

The sale and efforts to redevelopment the property are welcome news in the Summit-University neighborhood, where Redeemer Arms has stood since 1963. Summit-University Planning Council (SUPC) has tracked the project for many months, as its owners have worked to sell the property and find building rehabilitative funds. Consultants have met with the district council to provide updates and to explain the need for a property sale and major rehabilitation.

The building provides supportive housing to elderly and disabled residents. More than half of the residents have multiple disabilities. More than one-third of the residents face chemical dependency and/or chronic mental illness. Also, all receive some form of assistance. The long-term goal for the facility is to be fully accessible housing.

“This is housing that is badly needed,” said SUPC President Steve Wilson. The project is consistent with the Summit-University District Plan, which includes a goal of maintaining affordable housing and housing with an array of supportive services.

The current owner, the non-profit Redeemer Arms, can no longer afford to maintain the building. Redeemer Arms is associated with the adjacent Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. The church’s congregation has gotten smaller and the nonprofit has struggled with the challenges of property management.

The 150-unit brick structure was built in 1963 as a nursing house. It was later converted to senior housing. Redeemer Arms bought the building from the HRA in 1977.

Several years ago the owners contracted with Wilder Foundation to provide supportive services, with a focus on residents who were homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless. More than a year ago, Wilder chose to get out of the housing and supportive services field, which is forcing changes at Redeemer Arms and other similar housing.

The property itself is in need of major upgrades. That forced the owners to work with city staff and consultants to seek a new property owner. The nonprofit worked with Planning and Economic Development (PED) staff and Ward One Council Member Melvin Carter III’s office.

Carter said it was critical to find a property owner, one who will be able to upgrade the building and bring it up to standards that meet the residents’ needs. Carter believes there is a strong need for the housing and it should be maintained and improved.

CHDC has entered a purchase agreement to acquire and rehabilitate the building, which is being managed by BDC Management. BDC has managed the property since Wilder stepped aside. BDC Management oversees many Twin Cities buildings for people with disabilities.

Improvements planned by the new owners include window replacement, air conditioning upgrades, installation of a new sprinkler system, kitchen renovation, ventilation improvements and other repairs to improve the building’s appearance.

CHDC and BDC Management have extensive experience owning and managing supportive housing, in St. Paul and Minneapolis. These include Hamline Park, Han-over Townhomes, Elliot Park Apartments and Seven Corners Apartments. CDHC has worked with Catholic Charities in Minneapolis to development supportive housing. Under those arrangements CDHC owns the properties and Catholic Charities provides the services.

The St. Paul city funds are in the form of a grant and CDHC will have to meet conditions in exchange for the funding. One key condition is that the current population at Redeemer Arms be served for the next 30 years.

Redeemer Arms has applied to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) for additional project funds. Federal housing and Urban Development (HUD) dollars and other outside funding are already part of the project, for a total of $12.9 million. Of that amount, $5.6 million is for property acquisition, with most of the rest dedicated for building rehabilitation.