Met Council approves grants for job creation, housing, and economic development

Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Architect’s rendering of the redevelopment shows two connected brown buildings with many windows.The Metropolitan Council awarded nearly $3.4 million in Livable Communities grants in June and July, contributing to economic opportunity, redevelopment, and job creation in the seven-county metro area.

Grants awarded July 12 fund polluted-site cleanup at properties, including the area near Allianz Field along University Avenue in Saint Paul for an office building and hotel. In Excelsior and St. Louis Park, cleanup will advance plans for housing, including affordable homes.

“This is the latest round of funding from the Livable Communities grant program to invest in our region,” said Lisa Barajas, Met Council community development director. “The program benefits the whole region by helping communities to advance economic development projects, housing choices, and transportation connections.”

Grants targeting polluted sites help fund cleanup and investigation for redevelopment. They also help pay for environmental assessments in areas with concentrations of low-wage jobs, low-income households, and Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian populations.

“The region has come a long way in terms of cleaning up properties contaminated by asbestos, petroleum, and many other pollutants,” said Elizabeth Kluesner, Minnesota Brownfields executive director. “I’ve seen remarkable progress resulting from the Livable Communities program and the partnerships formed to achieve positive outcomes for communities and the region, and I look forward to more progress to come.”

Of the $3.4 million, nearly one-third is targeted to predevelopment activities, such as community engagement, planning, and design. These investments include, for example, design and planning for redevelopment on Lake Street on a site destroyed by civil unrest in 2020, and affordable housing in Maplewood, which will be designed to preserve a vibrant community garden on the same site. The Met Council awarded the predevelopment grants on June 28.

Contamination cleanup grants go to four cities

Architect’s rendering of large apartment buildings, with a six-story building in the foreground.
  • United Village Phase 1, Saint Paul Port Authority:  $652,400 for cleanup and environmental oversight at a mostly vacant 7.4-acre site on University Avenue. Redevelopment will include construction of an 87,000-square-foot, four-story office building with retail space, and a 170-unit hotel, creating 455 jobs. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is a funding partner.
  • Prior Works Creative Enterprise Zone, Saint Paul:  $174,900 for mitigation at an 8.8-acre site on Prior Avenue North. Redevelopment includes renovation of about 100,000 square feet of vacant space within existing buildings, and adding commercial, office, and industrial multi-tenant spaces, and 425 jobs. DEED is a funding partner.
  • Unity Building, Minneapolis: $296,500 for cleanup on a 0.2-acre site on Lake Street. Redevelopment will include construction of a 25,000-square-foot, multi-tenant commercial building and employ 70 people.
  • Agate Housing, Minneapolis:  $213,500 for abatement and remediation at a mostly vacant 0.7-acre site on 27th Avenue South. Redevelopment plans include 48 affordable apartments and a 54-bed emergency shelter, creating 26 jobs. Hennepin County is a funding partner.
  • Kyle Garden Square, Minneapolis:  $172,000 for abatement at a 0.7-acre site on 10th Avenue South. Redevelopment includes converting the existing building into 59 affordable housing units, creating 8 jobs.
  • Wooddale Station, Saint Louis Park EDA:   $428,000 for disposal of contaminated soil on a 3.3-acre site on West 38th Street. Redevelopment plans include construction of 252 market-rate apartments, 63 affordable apartments, retail space, and a public plaza with access to the transit station, creating 50 jobs. DEED is a funding partner.
  • 339 Third Street, Excelsior: $250,300 for investigation and mitigation at a 1.6-acre site that formerly held commercial buildings and a parking lot. Redevelopment includes 38 market-rate apartments, 11 row homes, and a new public park space. DEED is a funding partner.

Contamination investigation grants go to two cities

  • Northern Stacks 9, Fridley: $50,000 for assessment at the 29-acre site that has been used by many industrial, manufacturing, and auto repair tenants over 60 years. Potential development includes 342,000 square feet of new multi-tenant industrial space in three buildings. DEED is a funding partner.
  • 753 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis:  $35,500 for site assessment at a 0.7-acre vacant parking lot that was historically used as a dump. Potential development includes a 165,000-square-foot mixed-commercial development, with retail and office space.

Seeding Equitable Environmental Development Projects (SEED)

This category of grant awards promotes investment that encourages development within and near areas that show low levels of building permit activity, concentrations of low-wage jobs, and concentrations of Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian, and low-income households. These are sites that show potential for job or housing creation.
  • Hamm's Brewery Redevelopment, Saint Paul: $50,000 for assessment and inspection at a 4.9-acre site on Minnehaha Avenue East historically used as a brewery and is part of larger development plans.
  • East Plymouth Heights, Minneapolis: $30,100 for assessment at a 0.5-acre vacant and publicly owned site on Plymouth Avenue North that was used as a gas station.
  • Nicollet Project, Minneapolis: $12,400 for assessment at a 0.3-acre site on Nicollet Avenue historically used as a gas station.

Five cities receive predevelopment grants

  • New Generations LLC, Brooklyn Center EDA: $231,000 for engagement, planning, and design for development of about 32 units of permanent supportive housing with employment services.
  • Rice Street Gardens, Maplewood: $150,000 for engagement and site planning for a new development that will include about 28 units of homeownership housing, up to 130 units of multi-family housing, and preservation of a community garden.
  • Rodeo Plaza, Minneapolis: $150,000 for design and planning for the redevelopment of a site on Lake Street that was destroyed by civil unrest in 2020. Planning includes housing, including affordable units, and commercial space targeted to Latino-community-serving businesses.
  • The LOMA, (Nicollet Project) Minneapolis: $150,000 toward engagement and planning for a housing development that will include 62 affordable, culturally appropriate homes for seniors from different cultural backgrounds. Commercial space will be affordable and targeted to local Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian small business owners.
  • Affordable Commercial SLP, St. Louis Park: $44,000 toward building design to create long-term affordable commercial spaces. Plans for an 8,300 square foot commercial building off Excelsior Boulevard include subdivision to support Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian businesses.
  • Hamm's Brewery, Saint Paul: $275,000 toward engagement, design, and planning for redevelopment at the former Hamm’s Brewery Complex, including a multicultural artist and residential hub.

Livable Communities program promotes prosperity, economic development

To be eligible and compete for Livable Communities funding, metro area cities must participate in the Livable Communities program, which provides funding for:

  • Affordable housing and economic opportunity
  • Development that promotes mixed-use and connected land uses linking housing, jobs, and services
  • Brownfield or polluted site cleanup
  • Transit-oriented development

75 cities and 1 township are participating in the program in 2023. Other partners that fund cleanup grants include the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

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