165 Glenwood Av., Minneapolis

Type: Homeless shelter, multifamily housing

Size: 74,000 square feet

Height: 7 stories

Cost: $17.7 million

Developer: Community Housing Development Corp.

General contractor: Frerichs Constructions

Details: Construction work is underway on a seven-story building that will house Catholic Charities' new Minneapolis homeless shelter and supportive housing development.

Called Higher Ground, the $17.7 million facility at 165 Glenwood Av., when completed next summer, will replace the charity's current emergency homeless shelter at 1000 Currie Av. with 120 shelter beds, 80 "pay-for-stay" beds and 51 overnight shelter mats on the first and second floors.

On the upper floors will be 85 units of permanent supportive housing -- private rooms with shared kitchens and baths -- including 38 "safe haven" units for those dealing with mental and/or chemical health issues and 11 efficiency apartments. Each of the upper floors will have a reception area, a laundry room and a resident lounge.

Included in the design is a ground-level link that will connect the new building to the next-door Glenwood Residence for late-stage chronic alcoholics, which, like Higher Ground, is managed by Catholic Charities and was developed by Community Housing Development Corp. Residents of the new building will be provided meals there.

Also nearby on Glenwood Avenue is Catholic Charities' 88-unit Evergreen Residence, which provides permanent rooming units for extremely low-income individuals.

The site of Higher Ground was once a 56,000-square-foot vacant lot that had been used by the city's public works department to store vehicles and equipment.

The project had its genesis in 2006 when developer Bob Lux was considering redeveloping the site of the downtown Ramada Inn and current homeless shelter on Currie Avenue. Approval was secured from the Legislature to set up a special tax increment financing district to help Catholic Charities pay for the shelter's relocation.

That redevelopment project has yet to happen, but Catholic Charities nonetheless followed through with efforts to raise funds for the move. The housing portion of the project received $12.8 million through bonds issued through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, but funding for the shelter portion on lower floors took longer to find.

Tracy Berglund, director of housing and emergency services for Catholic Charities, said Hennepin County eventually chipped in with $2.1 million, and that the group itself is financing $2.3 million through a bank loan.

The project broke ground May 24 and it is expected to be completed in June 2012, she said.


Don Jacobson, a freelance writer based in St. Paul, can be contacted at hotproperty.startribune@gmail.com.