Minneapolis Public Schools is putting the old Northrop school block up for sale again, hoping that an improving housing market will create a viable proposal for redevelopment.
Proposals will be accepted through Feb. 5 for a property that has been vacant since 2005, when the school at 1611 E. 46th St. closed.
A previous district effort to unload the property fell apart when the poor economy intervened. Developer United Properties wanted to raze the 1923 school and build 106 cooperative housing units for people over age 55.
But the worsening economy caused worries among interested buyers that they they couldn't sell their existing homes. United also wanted the school district to lower its price for the property or the city to help pay for demolition and other costs. But because the project was market-rate ownership housing, it didn't meet guidelines for tax-increment financing, which would allow the use of taxes generated to pay some costs.
So what's changed? Wes Butler, the city's multifamily housing manager, said the city hopes that the building boom in some parts of the city will spill over to Northrop. "We're testing the waters to see if it can be sold for something that would be useful to the city," he said. The city is handling the marketing of the property for the school district.
The joint sale announcement on Wednesday said that offers will be considered as soon as received in the order they are received. That's left some in the neighborhood concerned that the neighborhood won't get a chance to compare proposals and express a preference. Neighborhood officials were trying to pin that down Wednesday.
[Update12-6: Butler said his department iwill work to obtain neighborhood feedback on any offer the district considers acceptable.]
Stearline Rucker, president of the Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood Group, said the desire for senior housing remains strong: "Our residents are aging. We have a big baby boom population coming up and they don’t want to move downtown or to Richfield."
The property is zoned for multifamily housing, and is located close to Lake Nokomis, Minnehaha Creek and Hiawatha Golf Course.