Major renovations will bring affordable and market-rate apartments to one of the last Queen Anne Victorian-style buildings in downtown St. Paul.

The Viking Apartments at 467 N. Wabasha St. are under construction to bring the building up to code for renting out its 34 units. CCI Properties purchased the building earlier this year, and interior demolition has begun.

The building will include seven affordable units as part of a deal with the city, which is likely to sell the adjacent lot to CCI for its appraised value of $260,000. Bidding for the lot recently ended, and the sale could happen in April.

CCI will be tapping St. Paul’s 4(d) Affordable Housing Incentive Program to receive a property tax break in exchange for maintaining the units’ affordability at 50% of the area’s median income for 10 years.

Commercial space is available on the ground level, and the project is likely to include outdoor seating and parking. The team hopes construction can finish by the end of the year.

Formerly known as the Fitzpatrick Building, the four-story Viking Apartments building was built by contractor Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1890. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

But the building was in severe disrepair when CCI acquired it, said Chuck Repke, a consultant representing CCI Properties in discussions with the city. The structure lacked a sprinkler system and was “a fire trap waiting to happen,” he said.

A restaurant and 20 tenants were displaced last spring when the property was sold. Many of the tenants were vulnerable adults who faced long-term homelessness, said Carolyn Brown, co-director of the Community Stabilization Project that helped them find new housing. Fourteen of the tenants quickly received emergency assistance.

“It was a panicked effort in the beginning,” Brown said. But by late spring, all the previous residents had found new housing.

CCI’s renovation will include a new sprinkler system, new electrical system, a bike room, an exercise room and the installation of a new “witch’s hat” turret to recreate the building’s original charm.

Ed Conley, founder and owner of CCI Properties, hopes the renovation will preserve the Viking’s historic nature and create a safe living space.

“It’s a cool piece of history to try to preserve and make safe,” Conley said. “When it’s done, it should be gorgeous.”

 

J.D. Duggan (j.d.duggan@startribune.com) is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.