Renovation of Historic Duluth Firehouse and Completion of Newly Constructed Apartment Complex Bring Quality Affordable Housing

  Renovation of Historic Duluth Firehouse and Completion of Newly Constructed
  Apartment Complex Bring Quality Affordable Housing to the Hillside
  Neighborhood

  *Community leaders and project partners celebrate completion of 40-unit
    apartment project with ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house
  *UnitedHealthcare provides $7.1 million in financing through Low Income
    Housing Tax Credit Partnership with U.S. Bank
  *Greater Minnesota Housing Fund provides $3.5 million to support project
  *Minnesota Housing provides $1.4 million in financing for project

Business Wire

DULUTH, Minn. -- February 28, 2013

Community leaders and project partners joined today for a ribbon-cutting
ceremony and open house to celebrate the opening of The Firehouse and
Firehouse Flats, a new affordable-housing development in Duluth.

Community leaders and project partners joined today for a ribbon-cutting
ceremony to celebrate the o ...

Community leaders and project partners joined today for a ribbon-cutting
ceremony to celebrate the opening of The Firehouse and Firehouse Flats, a new
affordable-housing development in Duluth. The 40-unit apartment complex, which
included the restoration of the historic firehouse, was developed by
MetroPlains LLC, in collaboration with the Central Hillside Community
Revitalization Plan and several development partners. UnitedHealthcare
provided $7.1 million in financing through a partnership with U.S. Bank. From
L to R: Rob McCready, co-president, MetroPlains; John Miklausich, site
director, UnitedHealthcare of Duluth; City Councilor Sharla Gardner; Duluth
Mayor Don Ness; Pam Kramer, executive director, LISC; and Richard Ball,
executive director of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Duluth
(Photo: Derek Montgomery).

The Firehouse and Firehouse Flats includes 40 apartments in three buildings –
two historic buildings connected by a skyway and one three-story building with
covered parking. The three buildings, designed to reflect the character of the
historic buildings and the Hillside Neighborhood, include 28 two-bedroom, 8
one-bedroom and 4 three-bedroom apartments. The units will be available for
family households earning between $20,000 and $39,000 per year. Rents will be
affordable and competitive in the marketplace.

The apartment complex, close to jobs and public transportation, includes
features such as open floor plans; large windows with views of Lake Superior;
energy-efficient appliances including washer/dryer units; island kitchens with
high-quality cabinets; and access to convenient off-street parking. Several
units are designated for residents who have experienced chronic homelessness.
Common amenities exclusively for residents include an urban-scaled courtyard
between the two historic buildings, a community room and kitchen, fitness
center and storage.

“Firehouse Flats is a beautiful community development that is an important
element to the revitalization and redevelopment of Duluth,” said Mayor Don
Ness, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony with City Councilmembers Sharla
Gardner and Beth Larson, along with other community leaders and project
partners. “We are appreciative to all the partners who made today a reality.
Your hard work and efforts to turn a vision into what we see here today will
help so many families in our community have a place they can call home.”

The project was developed by MetroPlains LLC, a Minnesota-based company with
more than 35 years of affordable housing experience, in collaboration with the
Central Hillside Community Revitalization Plan. Development partners included
the city of Duluth, the Duluth Housing Redevelopment Authority, Local
Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC), Lumber One Avon, Dave Cecil Builders and
JLG Architects. The Greater Minnesota Housing Fund provided $3.5 million for
the project, and Minnesota Housing secured $1.4 million in financing.
UnitedHealthcare, through a partnership with U.S. Bank, provided $7.1 million
in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity to finance the majority of the
project.

“Today’s celebration is the culmination of many years of hard work and
planning,” said Rob McCready, co-president of MetroPlains. “We are extremely
grateful for the support we have received from so many in the community whose
passion and teamwork helped produce this historic renovation of the firehouse
into these newly constructed apartments.”

Pam Kramer, LISC executive director, said: “We are appreciative of all the
partners who have been involved in this important addition to our community.
These high-quality apartments not only will provide much needed affordable
homes to many families, but also enhance the aesthetics and quality of life in
the Hillside neighborhood.”

The $7.1 million in LIHTC equity provided by UnitedHealthcare brings together
one of the nation’s top health and well-being companies and one of the
nation’s leading banks to provide innovative financing solutions for community
development projects. UnitedHealthcare, through its Affordable Housing
Investment Program, has provided more than $100 million in financing for
community development projects throughout the United States, $35 million of
which is in partnership with U.S. Bank.

“UnitedHealthcare is grateful to have worked together with U.S. Bank to
provide the $7.1 million in equity to finance this important community
development project,” said John Miklausich, site director for UnitedHealthcare
offices in Duluth, which employs more than 1,400 people. “This project is an
example of many partners coming together to help enhance our city and access
to affordable housing.”

“Our shared commitment to affordable, quality housing is increasing housing
options available for underserved individuals and families,” added Jerilynn
Young, project manager for Affordable Housing Tax Credit Investments, U.S.
Bancorp Community Development Corporation, a subsidiary of U.S. Bank. “This is
a wonderful addition to the community of Duluth and will help ensure that more
people, regardless of income, have a place to call home.”

Development of The Firehouse and Firehouse Flats began in 2007 with a vision
of creating a mixed-use multifamily housing development on the site. In 2007,
the Hillside Neighborhood Group, LISC, city staff, Neighborhood Housing
Services (a local housing nonprofit) and LHB Architects produced the Central
Hillside Community Neighborhood Revitalization Plan.

The neighborhood plan followed a larger city planning process called the East
Downtown, Hillside Waterfront Charrette in 2005 by the University of Miami
Knight Community Building Program. This plan was also part of the At Home in
Duluth Sustainable Communities Initiative, led by LISC, which is a
collaboration of 24 organizations including the city of Duluth. The plan
identified this block due to its location adjacent to the community center and
recent investments in the immediate area.

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Contact:

MetroPlains LLC
Leah Skoy, 651-523-1230
lskoy@metroplains.com