One of Minneapolis’ longest-vacant buildings, a onetime luxury apartment building on East Franklin Avenue, is finally heading toward redevelopment by an area landlord with a proven track record.

Landlord Mark Orfield will buy the property from the city under a plan to sell him the gutted building at 628 Franklin that won preliminary approval this week in a City Council committee. The building has been vacant for around 20 years and has been on the city’s vacant building registration list for 12 years, making it one of the longest with that designation.

The plan is to renovate the 1904 building to create 14 market-rate apartments, reawakening a structure that hasn’t had tenants since the mid-1990s.

Orfield’s project would create just over $1 million in property tax value and more than $20,000 per year in taxes.

To make that happen, the city is lowering the sale price to $75,000, or $178,191 less than it paid in 2013 to buy the property.

Orfield plans 11 one-bedroom apartments that will rent for $1,200 monthly, plus three smaller apartments renting for $790. His was chosen from four proposals for the stately but neglected building. His family has been in the rental business since 1939, accumulating more than 200 units, and Orfield has owned and managed 90 apartments across Franklin Avenue since 1994.

“That’s exactly what that property needs — a good, solid private landlord,” said Jason Geschwind, who made a previous unsuccessful attempt to rehab the building.

One impediment to redevelopment has been that the building has only five parking spaces, given that it was built when most people walked or rode a streetcar. To offset the problem, Orfield is making parking available at his Best Apartments at 2008 Park Av., across Franklin.

Orfield is attempting what at least two previous developers have failed at. Geschwind and Thea LLC bought the property from the city in 2003, with Sabri Holdings LLC supplying some financing. Thea lost the building to Sabri, which didn’t finish the rehab. The city bought back the building in 2013 and has been looking for a developer since.

The City Council is scheduled to ratify the sale at its Oct. 9 meeting.


Twitter: @brandtstrib