CLOQUET — A national real estate investment firm has cleared the first hurdle among many required to obtain funding for the acquisition and renovation of Larson Commons Senior Apartments.
The Section 8 affordable housing facility, 810 Cloquet Ave., leases units for seniors and people with disabilities.
The City Council on Nov. 21 gave its unanimous, preliminary approval to loan the proceeds of up to around $11 million in revenue bonds to Steele Aquisitions IV LLC, which plans to extensively renovate the property.
Headquartered in Colorado, Steele has a portfolio of over 85 properties, with more than 8,900 units in 25 states serving low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities.
“Larson Commons is a pretty good neighborhood,” said Andrew Bennett, development manager at Steele Acquisitions, also known as Steele Properties. “We have a lot of experience dealing with low-income housing.”
If approved, the apartments would continue to house low-income residents for at least 30 years. As of Nov. 21, there were no vacancies and a long waiting list.
Larson Commons, as well as the Pennel Park Commons apartments in Duluth, would be Steele’s first properties in Minnesota if they are approved. Duluth’s Housing & Redevelopment Authority was scheduled to vote Tuesday, Nov. 28, on bonding for Pennel Park.
Both properties are currently owned and managed by Dominium Management Services, headquartered in Plymouth, Minnesota. If Steele acquires Larson Commons, it will be managed by its sister company, Monroe Group, headquartered in Denver. Monroe manages Steele’s portfolio of properties across the U.S.
Cloquet Mayor Roger Maki said Nov. 21 that Larson Commons “very badly needed to be redone. (I)t needs someone who knows how to do this.”
- Built in 1980.
- 85 one- and two-bedroom units.
- Tenants are age 62 or older and people with disabilities.
- Rent based on 30% of adjusted income.
- 2023 market value: $4.31 million for building, $212,100 for land, according to Carlton County records.
Renovation budget: $3.74 million
Among interior projects: kitchen and bathroom upgrades; replacement of LED lighting, windows, blinds and electrical fixtures; new paint and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; upgraded lobby, managers office, community kitchen, laundry room, fire alarm systems and elevators; replacement of heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and boiler; modernized elevator.
Among exterior projects: new exterior lighting and siding; parking and sidewalk repair.
Among next steps, Steele must get the housing program reviewed by the Metropolitan Council; schedule a public hearing during a City Council regular or special meeting; and obtain final City Council approval.
causing heavy water damage from the sprinkler system from the main floor to the fifth floor. One tenant was brought to Duluth for medical attention and others received American Red Cross assistance. Later that month, the elevator was out of service for several days.
Aug. 8, 2018, citing water damage in their units, the non-working elevator and an unreliable boiler.
- On July 8, 2021, a 70-year-old woman died from “complications of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation” after a
in her unit. The Cloquet Area Fire District said the cause was smoking-related and the fire was contained to that unit.
Katie Rohman is the managing editor of the Duluth News Tribune and Cloquet Pine Journal. She started with Duluth Media Group in 2017 as regional editor of the Superior Telegram, Pine Journal, Lake County News-Chronicle, Eastern Observer and Western Weekly. She has worked in newspapers around the Midwest since 2004.