The Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority board awarded $426,200 in low-income housing tax credits on November 9 to the Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation (TCHDC) for its Selby Commons and Wilkins Townhomes projects, now known as Selby Wilkins.
The HRA also voted to consolidate several loans and modify terms and conditions for housing that the nonprofit TCHDC owns in the Summit-University neighborhood.
TCHDC is launching an ambitious project to rehabilitate some of the Selby Wilkins housing units, adding eight new apartments and setting the stage for some dwellings to be sold but continue as low- to moderate-income housing. The total project cost is $22.9 million.
Barb McQuillan, executive director of TCHDC, said the nonprofit is excited to get the project rolling. “The work we’re doing fits well with what the community needs to maintain deeply affordable housing,” she said.
Wilkins Townhomes is a three-building, 23-unit, affordable townhome community with 100 percent of the housing units holding Section 8 vouchers. The buildings are on Marshall, Ashland and Holly avenues east of Dale Street. They were constructed in the early 1980s, but have had no substantial improvements since then. TCHDC purchased the properties in 2020 with the intent of combining them with Selby Commons.
TCHDC has owned and operated Selby Commons since the early 1990s. The scattered-site development has 12 buildings along a five-block stretch of Selby Avenue, and offers a total of 38 two-, three- and four-bedroom dwellings. Most buildings are single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes. The largest and most prominent building is at Selby and Milton Street. It has 10 affordable apartments and will soon add more.
The 120-year-old Selby-Milton building was recently granted a conditional use permit by the Saint Paul Planning Commission to allow the conversion of ground-floor commercial space into eight, two-bedroom apartments that are affordable to households making 60 percent of the Twin Cities’ area median income. The commission also recommended that the building and its parking lot at 912 Selby be rezoned from commercial to residential use. The City Council is poised to act on the rezoning request by the end of the month.
“The work we’re doing fits well with what the community needs to maintain deeply affordable housing,” said Barb McQuillan, executive director of TCHDC.
The Section 8 housing is considered affordable to households earning 30 percent or less of Twin Cities’ area median income (AMI), or $35,200 a year for a household of four. The other units are affordable to households earning 60 percent of AMI, or $70,400 for a household of four.
Combining Selby Commons and Wilkins Townhomes makes sense, according to the city staff report. “The scattered site design of both developments individually is inefficient and challenging to remain financially feasible,” the report stated. “Combining the two developments will increase the efficiencies of operating these units.”
The city and HRA debt for the buildings is being consolidated and assigned to the new Selby Wilkins LLLP.
TCHDC plans to sell six of the 12 original Selby Commons properties. The six properties consist of four duplexes and two single-family homes.
A purchase agreement is in place with Land Bank Twin Cities, which will own and operate the dwellings as rental properties until the current tenants choose to move. Then it will seek a partner developer to help complete needed renovations and find low- to moderate-income housing buyers. The Land Bank will also work with the Family Housing Fund and possibly the Rondo Community Land Trust.
As part of the purchase agreement, TCHDC plans to loan $300,000 to the Land Bank or its development partner to help fund the rehabilitation work on the properties.
In 2021, the HRA also awarded tax credits to TCHDC in the amount of $914,334 for Selby Wilkins. That same year, the corporation also received an award of $214,957 from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.
— Jane McClure
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