A labor union trust fund is kicking in a substantial portion of the financing needed to rehabilitate Riverside Plaza, the mammoth housing complex on the West Bank in Minneapolis that has drawn scorn from many an architecture critic since it opened in the 1970s.

The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust announced on Tuesday the $50 million commitment of union pension capital to finance the makeover. The investment toward the $120 million to $130 million cost will modernize the 1,303 housing units in the cluster of buildings.

The AFL-CIO said that the work is expected to generate about 635 union construction jobs.

The rehab will focus on deteriorating mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems as well as substantial exterior and interior work. The complex consists of towers ranging from four to 39 floors, with more than 30,000 square feet of commercial and community space.

Ninety percent of the units are for lower-income residents, with many hundreds of them receiving federal rent subsidies.

The trust's chief investment officer, Stephanie H. Wiggins, said this commitment helps "put the [trust] on track to achieve its goal of generating 10,000 union construction jobs by the spring of this year through the investment of union pension capital." All on-site construction work at Riverside Plaza will be performed under collective bargaining agreements with local building and construction trades unions, trust officials said.

The site, built as Cedar Square West and renamed Riverside Plaza, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Dec. 28. That gave developer George Sherman $28.9 million in federal and state historic tax credits that he sold to investors to help finance the plaza's purchase and makeover. Two years' worth of construction began last month.

The complex, the work of Minneapolis architect Ralph Rapson, was envisioned to bring an international style to the city and was an example of a new, if shortlived, federal approach to urban development. However, the buildings' harsh facade has long been a target of architecture critics.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482