Group recommends 69-unit development for Ramar

A task force has recommended a 69-unit condo redevelopment for the Ramar building at 111 E. Franklin Ave. The Whittier Alliance, a neighborhood group, confirmed the recommendation for Master/Legacy/BKV group at its July 24 meeting.

Hennepin County now owns the 55,000-square-foot building and estimates it would need $11 million to bring it up to code. The Master group would pay the county $2 million for the building. Three other groups bid as much or more: a group consisting of Lupe Development, ESG and Kraus-Anderson Construction also offered $2 million; African-American Family Services offered $2.2 million; and Americus Development offered $2.75 million.

Eight of the 10 task force members selected the Master group bid. The group estimates the condo project will generate $120,000 in new property taxes for what will be a $14.8 million redevelopment.

The task force cited Master for creating indoor parking, showing sensitivity to the community’s historic character and offering a wide range of prices.

Katie Hatt, task force co-chair, said the Master group’s bid was compelling because it emphasized affordable housing. Eleven of the 69 units will be for low-income owners. Plus, she said, Master is located in Whittier and it was good to support a local business.

She added, "One thing that is neat about the project is that it is the first time the county has ever sought redevelopment proposals for its own property and engaged the neighborhood at this level. Hopefully, we will be a good test case for other neighborhoods."

The recommendation will be presented to the Hennepin County Board on Tuesday, Aug. 12. It may act on it as soon as September.