October 11, 2012 by Sarah M
//By Jeremy Zoss//
Everwood Development Group has long planned to purchase the building at 730 Hennepin Ave. for conversion into affordable housing, and at long last the project is moving forward. Project partner Elizabeth Flannery said the delay stemmed from a dispute over the historic status of the former bank building.
“The building was denied historic status initially by the state of Minnesota, but that was reversed in August,” said Flannery. “But it is an historic building, and that was recognized by the state historic office, so that was great.”
Everwood should close on the building in December and will begin converting it into 56 units of affordable housing in January. The construction process is expected to take about six months. Flannery said she believes the project is the only affordable housing project in downtown for the near future.
Originally, Everwood’s plan would have kept the building’s sole tenant in place. The International Education Center (IEC), a non-profit school that teaches English as a Second Language and GED classes, currently occupies the basement and first three floors. The new plan will force the school to relocate.
“It’s kind of two things,” said Flannery. “We had to include more units and go down further [in the building], and the school has had some budget issues. No, they’re not going to be there.”
IEC excuctive director David Gaither, who is also in the midst of a campaign for state senate in Senate District 44, did not respond to repeated phone calls about the future of the school. He previously told The Journal that he viewed the school’s downtown location as a major part of the institute’s identity.