Mayor Chris Coleman announced Friday that St. Paul has won a bet it made five years ago when deciding to finish a Lowertown apartment project that developers had abandoned over recessionary fears.
The city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which consists of City Council members, is expected Wednesday to approve the sale of the Lofts at Farmers Market to a national apartment investment and management firm.
The $13,200,000 purchase price covers the city’s total investment in the project, including predevelopment costs, and delivers a cool profit of $76,000 besides.
Profit, however, was never the point. When the HRA approved a bonding package in 2010 for the Lofts at Coleman’s request, it was rescuing a project it hoped would help build momentum for an expansion of housing in Lowertown.
In a statement Friday, the mayor said that the sale was proof that the city had succeeded.
“This is just further evidence that St. Paul is booming, and this further win for Lowertown provides an exciting example of that growth,” Coleman said.
The Lofts project was completed in February 2012, with 57 market-rate apartments and first-floor retail space that was recently leased by Big River Pizza.
To finance the project, the HRA issued federal stimulus bonds made available on the condition that the city own the building.
It has been fully booked since shortly after it opened, and in late July the HRA decided to put the building on the market.
Of the several offers received, the best was $13.2 million submitted by Seattle-based Weidner Investment Services. The company is affiliated with Weidner Apartment Homes, which owns and manages numerous apartment complexes in the United States and Canada.
The purchase price works out to $231,579 per unit.
Council Member Dave Thune, who represents downtown and served as HRA chairman in 2010 when the city took on the project, said that the sale brings “much excitement into this already vibrant neighborhood, and I can’t wait to see this energy continue.”