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Ending Veteran Homelessness - Historic Fort Snelling to Become Permanent Veteran Housing
In July 2014, this project was featured in an article published in the Journal of Tax Credits.

 
 

The Situation:
  
Originally built in the 1820s, Fort Snelling was an important military outpost, but was decommissioned in 1946. After being declared Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark in 1960, a large section of the fort deteriorated to the point of being listed as one of the nation’s Most Endangered Historic Places. In recent years, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) and the State of Minnesota have each renewed and prioritized their commitment to end homelessness among veterans and others, and have undertaken initiatives to fund projects that help to achieve this goal. In 2011, our client, CommonBond Communities, the largest nonprofit affordable housing developer in the Upper Midwest, was chosen by the VA to develop and convert five historic buildings located on the Upper Post of the complex into permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans and their families.  

The Solution:  
In order to realize its vision, CommonBond needed to overcome many obstacles that included the negotiation of a long-term lease of the project buildings from the VA, securing appropriate financing for the rehabilitation project, securing three different sources of rental assistance, raising a significant amount of private capital contributions, and working closely with the National Park Service and Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office to maintain the integrity of the buildings. Financing sources included: approximately $9.3 million of tax credit equity from the Minnesota Equity Fund derived from low-income housing tax credits, federal historic tax credits and Minnesota state historic tax credits to be generated from the project; approximately $11 million of tax-exempt bonds through two different bond issues from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (the MHFA); approximately $600,000 of additional soft funds from the MHFA; $790,000 of funds from the VA for environmental abatement expenses; approximately $700,000 from the Minnesota Twins All-Star Legacy fund; $300,000 from the Home Depot Foundation; and $200,000 from the Family Housing Fund.  

Winthrop & Weinstine worked closely with CommonBond throughout the entire project. The rehabilitation of Fort Snelling will provide 58 new housing units, office space, meeting rooms, a resident lounge, a community room and a computer lab, as well as on-site supportive services for health care, educational support, job training and counseling.  

In Winthrop & Weinstine’s role as developer’s counsel to CommonBond, our attorneys handled the following matters:

  • Negotiation of the long-term Enhanced Use Lease with the VA in order to establish site control over the project buildings.
  • Obtaining, monetizing, and structuring low-income housing tax credits and federal and state historic tax credits.
  • Structuring and negotiation of all documents evidencing debt, grant and equity financing from numerous sources.
  • Negotiation of construction contracts, architect’s agreement, and all other agreements required in connection with the construction, development and operation of the property.  
  • Assisting in obtaining three different sources of project-based rental assistance for future residents of the Project. 

The Team:
Winthrop & Weinstine Affordable Housing and Real Estate attorneys Todd Urness, Jeff Koerselman, and Kevin McLain.
For More Information
Deb Cochran
Direct: (612) 604-6688
 
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