Plans for a 36-unit apartment building for low-income seniors took a big step forward on January 26 with the approval of $831,754 in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The Saint Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, granted the credits to developer Trellis for its Treehouse project near West Seventh Street and Saint Paul Avenue.

 

Treehouse in Highland
The five-story Treehouse with 36 units of affordable housing for seniors would be built into the hill above the Highland Chateau senior housing facility on West Seventh Street and Saint Paul Avenue.

“It’ll be a great addition to the community,” said Ward 3 City Council member Chris Tolbert, who chairs the HRA Board. He cited the apartments’ proximity to the Highland Chateau senior housing and transitional care facility, the Jewish Community Center, mass transit and Sibley Plaza.

Treehouse would be built into the slope behind Highland Chateau, 2319 West Seventh St. It would have four stories of housing above one level of parking. Highland Chateau owner Health Dimensions Group is a partner in the project, as is Catholic Charities.

Trellis’ plans call for 15 efficiency apartments affordable to residents at 30 percent of the Twin Cities’ area median income (AMI), 12 one-bedroom units affordable to residents at 30 percent of the AMI, and nine one-bedroom units affordable to residents at 50 percent of the AMI. Seven of the apartments would be reserved for seniors who have been homeless.

The AMI is currently $104,900 for a family of four. Thirty percent of the AMI ranges from $22,050 for an individual to $31,450 for a family of four. Fifty percent of the AMI is $36,750 for an individual and $52,450 for a family of four.

Treehouse would be built into the slope behind Highland Chateau, 2319 West Seventh St. It would have four stories of housing above one level of parking. Highland Chateau owner Health Dimensions Group is a partner in the project, as is Catholic Charities. Treehouse residents would be able to take advantage of meals and other services at Highland Chateau.

 

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Trellis was formed recently through the merger of the Community Housing Development Corporation and BDC Management. The corporation has two arms, Trellis Company and Trellis Management. It oversees about 50 housing developments across Minnesota with a total of about 4,500 units.

Trellis had requested $1.25 million in tax credits for the Treehouse project. Last year the $12.79 million project was awarded $550,000 in city HOME program funds. If all goes as planned, construction would begin this year, according to Dan Walsh of Trellis.

Treehouse was one of two projects vying for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The other was the renovation of Mary Hall at 438 Dorothy Day Place in downtown Saint Paul. City staff ranked the Treehouse project slightly higher. One factor in Treehouse’s favor was the support of the Highland District Council. Another was its focus on senior housing.

Minneapolis-based Aeon is proposing to rehabilitate the 88-unit Mary Hall at a cost of $21.02 million. Its request for $1.34 million in tax credits is still under consideration by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, according to Tolbert.

Built in 1925 as a dormitory for nurses at nearby Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Mary Hall was operated by Catholic Charities in recent years as single-room housing. It has also been used as respite housing for people who are homeless and ill with COVID-19.

— Jane McClure

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