At a time when low-income housing is disappearing throughout the metro area, one building owner is spending $6 million to preserve a high rise for low-income seniors in Hopkins.
And that’s not all: The same nonprofit developer doing that work also is planning to build “workforce housing” next door for middle-income workers.
The low-income high rise, Hopkins Village, houses several hundred seniors in 161 apartments in the heart of the city’s downtown district. Most pay about 30 percent of their income for rent.
Some residents were alarmed recently when they heard that the building was set for a multimillion-dollar makeover that included new windows, a complete overhaul of the mechanical and electrical systems, and dramatic changes to the common areas.
They feared their home was going to be renovated and marketed to younger, upscale and higher-income residents, a scenario that’s played out at dozens of affordable apartment buildings throughout the Twin Cities in recent years.
But the owner of Hopkins Village — Minneapolis-based Community Housing Development Corp. (CHDC) — said the changes are being made to benefit existing residents.
“Everybody’s staying,” said Elizabeth Flannery, president of the nonprofit CHDC. “We’re doing physical improvements that are long overdue.”
CHDC also plans to build a new, low-rise apartment building of four to five stories on what’s now the Hopkins Village parking lot. That project, expected in the next two to three years, will be targeted at moderate-income workers like teachers, police and firefighters.
Hopkins officials were delighted by the unexpected addition.
“It was really exciting to have them come to us with this,” said Kersten Elverum, the city’s director of planning and economic development. “It wasn’t really on our radar. The opportunity to do an infill development is a really exciting outcome to this scenario.”
At 11 stories, Hopkins Village is the tallest building in town, a landmark towering over Hopkins’ Mainstreet. It was built in 1971 specifically for low-income seniors and has always served that population. That won’t change, Flannery said.
Money for the renovation is coming from a partnership linking CHDC, U.S. Bank and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. U.S. Bank gets a tax credit, and the building is guaranteed to remain low-income housing for at least 20 years.
“We love to get a really active front on Mainstreet,” Elverum said. “It kind of fills in a missing tooth in that smile.”