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Prior Crossing at 25% of funding goal

Posted on 08 April 2014 by robwas66

Feat4_14PriorCrossing

A $9 million development, including 44 residential units, is planned at 1949-1953 University Ave. The project will house young people who would otherwise be homeless, and also provide support services toward reaching work and educational goals. (Rendering courtesy of the architectural firm of Cermak Rhoades)


By JANE MCCLURE

Something is missing in the area of University and Prior avenues. A century-old, two-story commercial building at 1949-1953 University Ave. W. came down last month. Its basement will be filled in this month as fundraising and planning continue for its replacement, the 44-unit Prior Crossing development.

The $9 million development is planned to house young people who would otherwise be homeless. Many young people who turn 18 and age out of foster care find themselves with no place to live. Prior Crossings’ planned studio apartments and life skills training are seen as a way to help those young people make a successful transition into adult life. Residents would be age 18 into their early 20s.

The development is led by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, with St. Paul’s House of Hope Presbyterian Church as a major partner. When the housing is up and occupied, Wilder Foundation will provide on-site support services for the young residents.

Although area neighborhoods do have shelters and other supportive housing for young people, there is still a great need. According to Beacon, there are an estimated 2,500 homeless young adults in Minnesota on any given night. Many have had a difficult life, facing exploitation, hunger, fear, mental health issues, or abuse. They may have left home because their family life was unsafe or unwelcoming.

Prior Crossing is meant to provide a safe space for homeless young people, providing them with support toward reaching work and educational goals and providing a community of support.

“When we can actually start construction depends on our success in fundraising,” said Kris Berggren, Beacon spokesperson. About one-fourth of the funding is now in place, including a $500,000 pledge from Hope Presbyterian and a Metropolitan Council grant of $927,000.

Berggren said that low-income housing tax credit requests are currently pending with the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and with the City of St. Paul. Other funding sources are also being explored.

The building’s location near Central Corridor or Green Line light rail is seen as a huge plus for residents, who will have easy access to education, work and shopping. The building will be only a short walk from the Fairview light rail station.

The new building is designed by the architectural firm of Cermak Rhoades. The building would be five stories tall, with brick and cast elements as part of the preliminary design. The building will include common areas to build a sense of community within the building and will also have a patio and garden area. According to Cermak

Rhoades, the design, which would include some colorful yellow and blue elements, is meant to reflect the youthful energy of its residents, yet also respect the neighborhood’s historic context.

Berggren said Beacon did look at reusing the building that was on the site, but decided new construction would better meet program needs.

The old building, which was built in 1914, housed a number of businesses over the years. For several years Slawik Properties was housed there. The Slawiks were extensively involved in area development in the 20th century, with Spruce Tree Center and Har Mar Mall among their projects.

More recently the building housed several other businesses and nonprofits including the Muslim American Society and Good Samaritan Society. The recent occupants moved to other St. Paul area locations last year. Beacon was required to help building occupants relocate.

The difficulties in insuring an empty building meant having the structure torn down. Filling in of the site took place the first week of April.

Learn more about the project at www.beaconinterfaith.org/what-we-do/housing/prior-crossing.

 

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