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Development News

Historic building on University Avenue in St. Paul to be converted into $20 million apartments

Ironton Asset Fund LLC has a $20 million plan to turn the historic Chittenden & Eastman Building on University Avenue in St. Paul into a 104-unit apartment complex called C&E Lofts.

It’ll be one of the first developments to spring up along the coming Central Corridor light rail line.

But the building that Ironton acquired in October 2010 had recently been nearing foreclosure, with several defaulted mortgage loans, according to company information.

Because its financial and physical condition, the project was a good fit for Ironton, which is a distressed-asset fund, says Tom Nelson, a project manager and a principal with Ironton.

Besides the transit-oriented opportunity, “My associates have done projects in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, but our roots are in St. Paul,” he says. “We like to add value to a terrific neighborhood on the St. Paul side.”

Since the 1917 building is a “supporting structure” in the University-Raymond Commercial Historic District, the project qualifies for state and federal historic tax credits.

Originally the seven-story building was a furniture showroom and loft building, according to Ironton information.

The renovation will retain the building's historic qualities, including high ceilings, big windows, heavy timber construction, and flexible, open floor plans, he says.

Also,the building had long been a hub for artists, something he hopes to continue.  
A leasing and business office will fill the retail spaces along University Avenue, along with a tenant lounge that will have a fireplace and coffee bar. A fitness center, community and media rooms, a rooftop deck, and parking are other features of the project.

Construction is likely to begin after Labor Day, and the apartments could open next fall, Nelson says.    

Source: Tom Nelson, Ironton Asset Fund
Writer: Anna Pratt
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