Luther senior housing update
Preliminary site plans and renderings of the proposed senior housing complex to be built on the Luther Seminary campus will be presented at a community forum on Thursday, Sept. 24, at Olson Campus Center, 1490 Fulham St., in Room 148.
The forum, which is being hosted by nonprofit developer Ecumen and the District 12 Land Use Committee, will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m. There is no formal program planned. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend at their convenience. Members of Ecumen’s development team will be on hand to field questions, receive feedback and discuss the project’s work to date, as well as next steps.
It was announced in August that Luther Seminary had entered into a nonbinding agreement with Ecumen to build a senior housing complex on the lower campus of the seminary’s 37-acre property. Sites at both the corner of Como Avenue and Luther Place and the corner of Como and Eustis Street are under consideration for the development, according to Matt McNeill, Ecumen’s director of business development. The project could include a 50- to 60-unit owner-occupied senior housing coop, a 121-unit apartment building that would include some assistedliving components and 20 percent affordable rates, and a 112-unit memory-care facility. No dates for the start of the project were available at press time.
Luther Seminary has been exploring redesign and redevelopment on the campus to meet the institution’s future needs, said Michael Morrow, the seminary’s vice president of finance and development, who attended the August Land Use Committee meeting with representatives from Ecumen to explain the project.
In 2012, the seminary reported a $4 million budget deficit. Since then, Luther has cut staff, sold the Sandgren and Burntvedt apartment buildings on Eustis Street, and has recently rented space to Augsburg College to house Augsburg’s physician’s assistant program. That will bring up to 60 students to the Luther campus each semester.
The campus needs to be refigured to meet the size of the current student body, Morrow said. The 600-student school has become less of a residential campus than in the past.
Ecumen, a 150-year-old nonprofit with roots in the Lutheran Church, once concentrated its work on nursing homes in rural Minnesota. In the last decade, the nonprofit has expanded its focus to senior housing outside of nursing homes in urban walkable communities.
One of Ecumen’s most recent projects is the $110 million Abiitan Mill City project in downtown Minneapolis, which broke ground in May. The five-story senior-living project will have 151 rental units and include options for independent living and memory care. Residents will be in walking distance to the river, to the Guthrie Theater, Gold Medal Park, the Mill City Farmers Market, the light rail and the new Vikings stadium. It is scheduled to open in fall 2016.
Representatives from Luther Seminary and Ecumen will also attend the Oct. 1 District 12 Land Use Committee meeting to give more updates on the project. The committee meets at 7 p.m. at South St. Anthony Recreation Center, 890 Cromwell Ave.