January BLUH Meeting Update

This month's meeting featured an update on the Larking/Wells Fargo development as well as a first community conversation regarding the Catholic Charities conversion of Augustana Care Center.  If you have any questions or comments, please contact the EPNI office.

Update on The Larking/Wells Fargo Development 
Burt Coffin, ESG, gave an update on the development.  By tht end of February, the new Wells Fargo building will be finished and Wells Fargo will move in on March 1st.  Then, the existing Wells Fargo building will be demolished and construction of the tower will begin, taking an estimate 18 months to complete. 

As presented previously, the balcony railings on The Larking were designed to be glass.  The development team now seeks to change the balcony railings to be picket.  The development team seeks EPNI’s support on this change as they take it back to Planning Commission. 

Motion to support the change in balcony railings from glass to picket.  M. Anderson/Biessel.  Motion passed. 

 

Conversion of Augustana Care Center (1007 E 14th St) 

Glen Johnson, BLUH Chair, introduced the project background.   

Kathy Kopp (Cassia, Vice President of Senior Development), Tim Marx (Catholic Charities, President & CEO), Janelle Sullivan (Exodus, Property Manager) introduced themselves. 

Kathy Kopp, Cassia:   
Why Cassia is selling property – changing landscape in healthcare, elder have many more options to go to, at one point care center had 400 beds, 100 beds closed in the past few years.  Demand has changed in this neighborhood.  Building (physical plant) needs capital repair.  Workforce – has been difficult to recruit and retain labor.  Catholic Charities approached Cassia re: the purchase.  Cassia has been able to relocate the residents and workforce has been able to find work.  Cassia will continue to operate 375 unit Augustana Apartments and wanted a good neighbor – CC has similar vision and mission.  Once building planned to sell, had to go through a process to get plan approved before we could announce to their residents.  Announced December 2020.   

Tim Marx, Catholic Charities: 
Acknowledge the surprise this project caused.  Want to now engage the community.  Wants to be sure all the questions are addressed or will be addressed.  Want to continue being a good neighbor.  Went through a process with EPNI on remodel of Opportunity Center.  Ethic of transparency, engagement, and being a good neighbor.   

Catholic Charities is 150 years old and has a long track record of serving this community.  Focus on housing stability, children & families (early child development, child protection, schools), older adults.  Values: human dignity, hope, and respect.   

Currently operate the Exodus for 95 people (elderly, frail, otherwise homeless).  Exodus is not a homeless shelter – is permanent housing.  Will be operating similarly to Augustana Care Center (one resident has already moved into current Exodus).  Will make sure residents get the services they need.  Will also have guidelines on how residents behave.  New Exodus (name will change) will have 203 residents – 30 of those residents will be medial respite (temporary housing for recuperation until they can move to stability; often come from HCMC).  Veterans will also be given preference.  30+ staff doing property management, services, meals, etc. (14 is just property management team).  Plan to close admin center and relocate 80 employees to new Exodus and another 80 will have their home-base on property.  Can be a better advocate for the community (in front of city, county, state) to keep and maintain the vibrancy of the neighborhood.  If there’s a problem (will be problems), can come knock on the door and talk to Tim Marx, CEO. 

Security: during eve and weekends, CC will have own security.  During week business hours will have front desk staff that provide security services.  Clinic will have security during the day.  Security is for residents and staff, as well as the broader community.   

Have purchase agreement now, take occupancy in May/June.  Then will begin 16-month construction process that will likely start in June.  Construction primarily interior – modernize (SRO + Studios + Office).  Will make sure the design is shared and timeline on when construction starts.  When start to think about external facing, will bring to the community for input as well.  Construction complete late summer/fall 2021. 

There is park right next to the current Exodus.  St. Olaf created a park (Acici) for the Exodux residents (look into this).  Used by residents for NNO, etc. 

Work with many different groups to leverage volunteer services (meals, etc.). 

Janelle Sullivan, Exodus Property Manager: 
Value community at Exodus.  Excited to be part of a community in Elliot Park.  Good neighbor policy = at move in/lease paperwork, a good neighbor policy outlines expectation to comply with rules.  Do serve high barrier, vulnerable people but are very good at accountability.   

Patty Reynolds, Former Exodus Resident  
Member of St. Olaf, had health issues and lived in Exodus for 6 months or so to be closer to medical services.  Has also lived in East Village and now lives at Augustana.  Is looking forward to the changes – runs the Friday social and welcomes neighbors. 

Q&A: 

  • Serve adults only? Yes. 

  • Parking?  Will sublease parking from Aeon East Village for employees & guests.  Residents don’t need parking.  Number of parking spots isn’t enough to support all employees at once.  Thinks there will be adequate parking.  Cassia needed more parking, thinks parking will likely get a little better. 

  • Housing: 203 rooms and units, 30 of which will be respite.  Some efficiencies and single-room occupancy (SRO.  The 30 respite units will have shared kitchens and bathrooms.  People pay rent based on income – will have project-based Section 8 for residents; respite care will be provided by Medicaid & Healthcare for Homeless.  Healthcare for the Homeless will be providing the services to the respite units. 

  • Meals?  Most of clients and residents will have access to meals on site.  100 people who have meals on site, residents in efficiencies will cook their own, some SRO will cook their own.  Will have an onsite kitchen in the building.   

  • Concerned about criminal records and sex offenders – what kind of supervision is provided?  Don’t rent to Level 3, but do rent to people with criminal history because those are the ones who have the greatest barriers to getting permanent housing.  If they don’t have housing, sometimes they return to crime.  If you have a permanent home, the likelihood of that reduces significantly.  Low barrier to offer housing to those who have been victims of systemic racism.   

  • House Drake families?  Won’t be open until 2021 and hopefully all those residents will be settled in permanent housing by then. 

  • Staff support: Every resident has a case manager which works on goal plans.  Behavior health specialist located within Exodus.   

  • Rosalind Brown manages the case managers at Exodus. 

  • Dawn @ Healthcare for the Homeless: have licensed social workers, chemical dependency assessments, and will be on site to help manage mental and chemical health with residents.  Housing is most important and are excited to partner with CC on this project. 

  • Good neighbor policy – what happens with a resident violate that?  Crime free/drug free addendum, lease, and good neighbor policy.  Three strikes you are out is how Rosalind operates and then may issues a notice to vacate; a HLP plan may be done with caseworkers and brought back to property manager to try to keep housing.  Meet with case managers monthly to follow up on HLP plan. 

  • Section 8 housing & vouchers: Does not use vouchers, MPHA will pick a certain number of units for project-based Section 8. 

  • Is there ever a case when you need to ask a resident to leave immediate: Did have a situation where a violent act happened and they asked them to leave.  If they don’t leave, they have fair housing rights.   

  • Why aren’t you placing people in Dorothy Day?  The new facility is full.  Unsheltered population has tripled in last 4 years. 

  • EPNI & Elliot Park Rec Center - has done much to establish the neighborhood and community 

  • More about the clinic: Dawn – Health Care for the Homeless: program is federally qualified healthcare facility.  Current program serves currently and formerly homeless.  Have clinics in 9 community locations – including at shelters.  Clinic is walk-in; low barrier and easy access.  Strive to provide comprehensive healthcare but also address immediate health care needs.  Provide integrated care with physical and mental care.   

  • Will Augustana Apartments be able to maintain their healthcare services?  Current healthcare service is leaving but are looking for another provider to provide that service. 

  • What will this facility do to the community?  What kind of things will CC facility provide for the community?  Can community participate in the services?  How will the building integrate with the community?  Tim: these are the exact conversations we want to have with the community and there is some opportunity to adjust plans for this.  Residents and employees may be available for community service projects.   

  • Walk-in clinic – where will people wait?  People will be able to wait in a lobby within the building and a courtyard.  The clinic will be on the corner across from East Village grill. 

  • Doubling size of facility and the impact on issues: doubling the number of staff in new facility compared to current; will have new security company with two shifts 

  • Is there future expansion into the neighborhood, will an NDA take affect?  NDA was unique to the long-term care nursing home facility with a specific set of regulations.  CC not interested in buying Augustana Apartments (not their model/business). 

  • Concentration of social services: Agree that this is a significant regional concern – the concentration is a challenge.  CC is an advocate for mitigating those challenges and advocating for affordable housing in other areas. 

  • Unauthorized guests – how will you be on top of this?  Exodus doesn’t allow outside visitors.   

  • Coordinated security with neighbors like NCU?  Yes. 

  • Comment: Neighborhood is trying to build a healthy community and developers come to neighborhood first.  Elliot Park is burdened by the concentration of similar services.  Super frustrated that CC/Cassia didn’t consult the community.  Frustrated by lack of community control on development.  Biggest project in our neighborhood in a small neighborhood. 

  • Response: this was unusual because of the NDA and is not how we would have preferred to do it.  Hope that in two years we’ll come together and things will be improved. 

  • Laughable that we had to approve a change in the balconies (Larking) but had no comment on this publicly funded project.  What is does your funding look like forward?  Capital costs are what we’ve seen ($65 million); long-term operating costs will come from CC, Hennepin County, MPHA. 

  • Existing Exodus location doesn’t not have a clinic?  Why is one needed here?  Will be an enhancement to what CC provides to the residents, wish we did have the clinic on site.   

  • Compliments to organizations putting time into this, could have been a problem if Augustana went in a different direction.  Am optimistic.  

If you have additional questions – send them to EPNI and we will continue to work on getting them answered.

Learn more about the Catholic Charities project at www.elliotpark.org/catholiccharities

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We hope to see you at our next BLUH meeting on February 20th, 6:00 PM at the Elliot Park Rec Center!  Tentative agenda includes: Update on south half of Thrivent block development, MPD update on recent neighborhood activity, and more.