Due diligence development period extended at Luther Seminary

By Rosalind Ding

Will Luther Seminary see its lower campus property get redeveloped for residential housing?

Seminary officials hope so, after they recently amended two agreements with local developers pertaining to the timelines for meeting due diligence periods.

Originally, the Seminary board of directors paused the sale of its lower campus property, extending their due diligence period to this summer to receive development offers.

But in June, the Seminary announced that its due diligence period with United Properties to sell a portion of the lower campus, excluding Northwestern Hall and Breck Woods, for “a multi-family housing development” is now extended to 2024.

The other agreement — between an unnamed local educational nonprofit and the Seminary on purchasing Northwestern Hall “for use as offices and program space” — is now withdrawn.

“The seminary continues to seek a redevelopment partner for this parcel [Northwestern Hall],” said Rachel Farris, director of public relations and internal communication for Luther Seminary, in an email statement.

Starting in 2019, the Seminary announced its campus redevelopment plan to sell about 15.5 acres of its western site to developers for building more affordable housing.

The Seminary partnered with Inland Development Partners (IDP), a Wayzata-based land developer, seeking to build 600 to 800 housing units for senior or affordable housing.

This plan, however, was controversial with many people in the community because it affected the Breck Woods, a small natural sanctuary in the neighborhood.

In January 2022, the Seminary stated it had reached a mutual agreement with IDP to pause this sale due to “changes in the environment, including the increased cost to redevelop the site and changes in policy, including the rent control ordinance recently passed in the city of St. Paul.”

In that statement, IDP decided the development plan was “not currently economically viable,” and the Seminary agreed.

As a result, the Seminary said it is studying the best way to move forward in the current business environment.

In May 2018, the Seminary’s board approved a future sale of the lower campus for its overall campus redesign to reinvest its mission to the Christian communities.

The Seminary has also contacted Master Properties and several other developers to seek reconstruction of its lower western campus.

Restoring Gullixson Hall exterior

Meanwhile, the Seminary is currently restoring the exterior of Gullixson Hall, one of its major campus buildings.

According to a statement issued in June, the Seminary has hired Advanced Masonry Restoration, a local masonry contractor with more than 25 years of experience, to maintain the physical integrity of Gullixson Hall and prevent water damage.

The project work is expected to be completed by Friday, Sep.8.

According to the statement, this restoration work will help improve the exterior facade of Gullixson Hall, including cleaning the entire facade, window sealant replacement, stone repair or replacement as needed, and approximately 5% repointing.

Gullixson Hall and the library will remain open to the public during this project. 

In 2016, the Seminary sold 4.5 acres of land across from its Como Avenue building to HealthPartners to build a replacement clinic.

The Seminary agreed with the senior housing developer Ecumen on 1.6 acres of land at Luther Place and Como Avenue to build a 49-unit co-op called Zvago in 2015.

Greenway Village purchased five apartment buildings from the seminary on Eustis Street in 2014.

Rosalind Ding is a UMN senior majoring in Applied Economics and Journalism. 

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