Preservation Housing Trust featured in St. Paul Pioneer Press

Developers are moving forward with two affordable housing development on St. Paul’s East Side and in the North End.

Operating under the title Rice Street Partners, Phoenix Development and nonprofit partner Preservation Housing Trust plan 41 units of affordable family housing on vacant city land at 782-796 Rice St. The Rice Street Flats, which carries a general price tag of $14 million, will consist of 20 three-bedroom, 12 twobedroom and nine one-bedroom apartments in a fourstory building off Sycamore Street.

Phoenix principal Loren Brueggemann submitted lot subdivision information to St. Paul earlier this week and expects to begin construction by the end of February. The company, which is based in Santa Rosa, Calif., is working with the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority to secure HOME funds, tax-exempt bonds and low-income housing tax credits.

“The market study had no issues — there was a huge need, especially for the larger units,” Brueggemann said. “The three-bedrooms are really needed.”

Working under the title BB Housing Associates, Brueggemann redeveloped several dozen housing units in St. Paul — many of them in duplexes— through the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which aimed to fix up abandoned and foreclosed homes following the recession and housing crisis of 2008.

The conversion of some owner-occupied units to rental housing drew the ire of some neighbors, but the demand for affordable family rental housing has only grown with time. Council President Amy Brendmoen said in some cases, the developer undid duplex conversions to create three-, four- or five-bedroom homes, which became important family housing for the North End and lower East Side.

“We’ve done a lot in the East St. Paul area, and we did a bunch under the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program that we still own, mostly three-and-four bedroom units,” Brueggemann said.

Another affordable housing development could soon take shape at the terminus of the Phalen Boulevard corridor.

The developer, MWF Properties of Minneapolis, has approached the city for financial assistance to build 75 units of affordable senior housing at 1180 and 1186 Prosperity Ave., by the corner of Prosperity and Maryland Avenue. The developer has requested either $1.5 million in public funds or the equivalent donation in city Housing and Redevelopment Authority property, which MWF could then resell.

MWF last year opened the Thomas Avenue Flats near Thomas and Snelling avenues, and in recent years has served as a consultant or developer to housing developments in Rochester, Mankato and Forest Lake. MWF couldn’t be reached for comment.