A long-vacant West End house needs additional funding before it can be rehabilitated and occupied by a new owner. The Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) board recently approved an additional $95,000 subsidy for the restoration of 47 Douglas St.

The one-story, L-shaped house had been owned by the city for more than a decade. The HRA sold the property last June to the nonprofit Historic Saint Paul, which is rehabilitating it. The 1887 structure was moved to its present site in 1905.

The house sits on a small lot that was split off from a property on Harrison Street. Its floor plan was greatly changed over the years, and the renovation will largely restore it. Variances were approved last year to allow for the addition of a small, covered porch.

47 douglas
Historic Saint Paul board members Tyler Lueck, Rita Goodrich, Mary Cutrufello and Kate Pearce stand in front of 47 Douglas St.

The HRA originally approved a development agreement and subsidy of up to $130,000 in 2021 for renovating 47 Douglas. City planning director Nicolle Goodman said that since then costs have risen by around $68,630 due to inflation and another $35,200 to replace a sewer line for the property, where the underlying bedrock makes utility work more costly.

While the cost increases are expected to be offset somewhat when the house is sold, Goodman said the increase to the development subsidy came in at $72,610, and adding a contingency increased that to $95,000.

 

It is anticipated that the market value of the house will be around $230,000. With the additional city dollars, the project’s budget comes in at $520,000. That breaks down to the initial $130,000 the city allocated, the added $95,000, a $65,000 grant from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, and the money anticipated when the house is sold.

A break-in and vandalism in 2016 prompted city officials to consider razing the house, which neighbors opposed.

 

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The house is in the Little Bohemia neighborhood where neighbors have long rallied to see the dwelling rehabilitated. The house was part of a multi-property redevelopment package, but was later removed from that project.

City staff then included 47 Douglas in its Inspiring Communities Program, which  attempted to sell homes left vacant by the mortgage foreclosure crisis of 2008. A request for proposals was issued in 2014, but a viable developer could not be found. A developer did respond to a request for proposals in 2015, but was unable to complete the work and the project was canceled.

A break-in and vandalism in 2016 prompted city officials to consider razing the house, which neighbors opposed. Another buyer was found in the fall of 2017, but was unable to fulfill the terms of the agreement and the sale was canceled.

Historic Saint Paul stepped forward in November 2020 to inquire about purchasing and rehabilitating the property. That triggered a requirement to post the property for sale again.

Yet another private developer emerged to compete with Historic Saint Paul’s offer. City staff looked at both proposals and chose the nonprofit, which bought the property for $1.

Sixty-four properties remain in the city’s Inspiring Communities Program. Three are dwellings, all of which have development agreements. There are also 61 vacant lots awaiting redevelopment.

— Jane McClure

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