St. Paul helps Rondo Community Land Trust acquire six affordable rental, homeownership properties

Rondo CLT
April 29, 2024
Rondo staff with the Liberated Land Trust Tour delegation
Rondo staff with the Liberated Land Trust Tour delegation

Pioneer Press, March 9, 2023

With an eye toward increasing affordable housing, the city of St. Paul will help the Rondo Community Land Trust acquire five residential properties between 796 and 841 Selby Ave., as well as a sixth residence on Avon Street.

The city will use $1.37 million in federal Community Development Block Grant dollars to back the purchases from the Twin Cities Land Bank, and to establish a revolving loan fund, allowing the land trust to make future acquisitions using future sale proceeds.

The St. Paul City Council convened as the HRA on Wednesday to approve the $1.37 million in CDBG funding.

The properties — four duplexes and two single family-homes — were formerly part of the scattered-site Selby Wilkins development.

The Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation, which recently refinanced the development, is renovating 43 of 53 units and spun off the other 10 to the Twin Cities Land Bank toward the end of 2022, according to a city staff report to the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

The Rondo Community Land Trust will now acquire and reposition those 10 units, maintaining seven of them as affordable or deeply affordable rentals while converting three of the properties into affordable homeownership.

The single-family home at 822 Selby is currently vacant and will be sold for homeownership using the land trust model, which includes a 99-year ground lease with a buyer who earns no more than 80% of Twin Cities’ area median income, adjusted for family size.

The duplex at 837 Selby Ave. currently includes a vacant unit and a rental unit. The duplex will be sold to become an owner-occupied home for a resident at or below 80% of the Twin Cities’ area median income. The second unit will remain a rental.

The Rondo Community Land Trust intends to close on a purchase of the six properties by March 15.

The land trust, established in 1993, was the first residential community land trust in the state and currently maintains 94 residential units. Its leaders have set a goal of acquiring or developing an additional 500 to 700 residential units in Ramsey County in the next five to seven years, as well as expanding its work in the commercial sector.

Mikeya Griffin, executive director of the land trust, told the city council Wednesday that some residents of their properties have remained in place for 30 years, while others have sold properties and moved on to new homes.