Luther Seminary renews quest on land sale

By Scott Carlson

Luther Seminary is trying again to sell its lower campus property.

The Seminary, in late May, announced hiring Wayzata-based Inland Development Partners in a new attempt to sell its 15.5-acre parcel on the southern end of its educational campus for housing.

In a statement, the Seminary said it “remains committed to selling the lower campus for additional mixed-use housing, including affordable housing, and is in a solid position as the search for the right buyers continues.”

Currently, there are no specific proposed development plans.

“We are pleased to work together with IDP as we pursue the sale of the lower campus,” said Luther Seminary President Robin Steinke, “We continue to believe the lower campus is a historic opportunity in the heart of the metropolitan area and the need for more housing is endorsed by community partners.”

The Seminary’s partnership with Inland Development comes after its prior contract with Master Properties expired this past winter amidst that developer’s having suffered numerous delays with its proposed project during the COVID-19 pandemic. Master Properties project, which it unveiled two years ago, called for building up to 450 to 500 units of new housing—from market rate family units to co-op housing for seniors—while preserving the campus’ 10-acre Breck Woods natu­ral open space.

After Master Properties’ pur­chase agreement with the Seminary lapsed, the religious institution was free to entertain talks with other developers about the campus redevelopment.

The Seminary said that teaming with Inland Development gives it a firm “with decades of real estate development experience” that will be able to focus on the steps needed to obtain community and government support, create individual building sites . . . and support Luther Seminary’s efforts to sell those parcels to the entities that will build on them.”

“Our existing relationships in this category along with our experience working on large, complex projects with multiple entities will serve Luther Seminary well,” IDP partner Kent Carlson said in a statement.

As this process continues, the Seminary said its lease of Stub Hall, a former campus dormitory, to Ramsey County for a temporary shelter to house homeless people has been extended through May of next year.

Luther Seminary has slowly been selling underused portions of its property for several years as its campus needs have diminished due to changing program needs. Not all students live on campus anymore nor are all of them maintaining full-time class schedules.

In 2014, the Seminary sold five apartment buildings on Eustis Street to Greenway Village. Senior housing developer Ecumen bought 1.6 acres at Luther Place and Como Avenue in 2015 to build Zvago, a 49-unit co-op. HealthPartners purchased 4.5 acres of land across from its Como Avenue building in 2016 to build a replacement clinic. 

Scott Carlson is managing editor of the Bugle.

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