Developers plan to revitalize property with senior housing project

A former convent and business school in southeast Minot could get new life as senior housing through a $10 million redevelopment proposed by North Dakota investors who closed on purchase of the property last Friday.

Bruce Walker, Minot, a principal in Park South Holdings LLC, said the group plans to develop the property in three phases, creating 115 housing units for residents age 55 and older.

“I see senior housing as a critical part of Minot’s future,” Walker said, citing studies showing the city’s senior population is projected to increase 30 percent between 2010 and 2025. “We really need to have some good quality, affordable housing for our seniors.”

About half of the units will be affordable housing while the remainder will be market rent. Unit rents could be between $500 and $850 a month for lower-income tenants and $700 to $1,200 per month for market-rate units. People earning less than 80 percent of area median income would be eligible for lower rents. In Ward County, this currently is equivalent to an annual gross income of $35,750 for a single person or $40,850 for two-person household.

To advance the project’s affordable piece, Park South Holdings plans to apply this month for $3 million in tax credits through the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund. The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency declined to fund the project in a previous grant round, but Walker said the project is better defined now.

“We were turned down the first time around because we didn’t get everything completed that we needed,” he said. “This time around, we feel confident that we have the necessary criteria completed.”

The Housing Incentive Fund is financed by individual and corporate taxpayers who choose to contribute in exchange for credits on their state income taxes. Contributors can designate their tax credits to particular housing projects.

The proposed Minot development includes about 7.5 acres at 234-14th Ave. SE, which is near Rosehill Cemetery. Kalix has a housing complex to the east, and the South Hill Complex is located south of the property. Walker added that the property is conveniently situated near services, walking trails and shopping in the heart of the Minot.

The first phase of construction involves a 36-unit apartment complex on the east side and a storm water retention pond. Construction could begin later this fall or next spring. The second phase consists of 36 apartments on the southside of the property and eight twin homes on the west side. That construction also could start next year. Apartments include one-, two- and three-bedroom units. There will be garages and other on-site parking.

The final construction phase will involve remodeling of the existing 35-unit apartment building, including a new roof, new windows and gas heating to replace a coal furnace. Walker said the exterior will remain largely the same, preserving the original look of the building. The project could be completed by late 2015 or early 2016.

Walker said existing tenants will be offered housing in the new units as they are constructed, regardless of whether tenants meet the age requirement.

A community center for senior activities will be located in the remodeled building. Since the anticipation is that the majority of tenants will be elderly and needing supportive services, the common spaces will be designed to encourage socialization, on-site health and nutrition services provided by local service providers. Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota would coordinate services and manage the property.

In 10 to 15 years, the plan is for investors to gift the property to Lutheran Social Services, Walker said. He said ownership by Lutheran Social Services will help ensure that the property remains affordable to tenants for years to come.

Jessica Thomasson, vice president for social enterprise for Lutheran Social Services, Fargo, noted that the agency has been involved in affordable and mixed-use housing for the past five years, mostly in smaller communities. The proposed Park South project fits well into the agency’s mission to create affordable housing for the long term, she said.

“Their intention really aligns well with ours,” Thomasson said.

Investors also expect a significant investment in storm-water management and utility connections to develop the property. Walker said they hope to receive assistance from the city through Community Development Block Grant money earmarked for infrastructure upgrades.