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Urban Homeworks to turn 18 units at Lovell Square into affordable housing once again

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Urban Homeworks, a faith-based organization in North Minneapolis that rehabs and builds scattered, small, multi-unit and single-family housing, will turn Lovell Square into affordable housing once again.

The vacant Lovell Square complex includes nine buildings, some of which are 100 years old--others date back to the 1960s and 1990s--at 11th and Irving avenues north in the city's Near North neighborhood, according to Ben Post, an associate director at Urban Homeworks.

As a part of the $1.78 million project, Urban Homeworks plans to rehab six of the nine buildings, including 18 units that range from 1 to 3 bedrooms. "Even though it's a challenge, we thought it'd be cheaper than losing them and starting over," he says, adding that the other three buildings will be demolished.   

In the 1990s the buildings were substantially rehabbed, he says. Since then, however, they've fallen into disrepair as problems with mold, asbestos, lead paint, and other things have gotten out of hand. "It's a sad story," he says. "[The buildings] all went through a big investment and renovation but they deteriorated due to a lack of maintenance."

City officials approached the organization a year ago about redeveloping the properties. "They were beginning the foreclosure process and were trying to figure out solutions [for the buildings]," he says.

After checking out the development, he says, Urban Homeworks agreed to take it on. "We've been able to bring back a lot of rough buildings from foreclosure," including vacant, boarded-up, and condemned buildings, "so we were less intimidated than others."
 
Funding for the project comes from the city's federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Minnesota Public Housing Authority and Hennepin County, according to Post.    

Urban Homeworks will soon close on the property, he says, and the group aims to start construction in April. 

Source: Ben Post, associate director, Urban Homeworks
Writer: Anna Pratt

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