January 2013 | Built in 1907, Buzza Lofts is located in the heart of Uptown in Minneapolis. This iconic building has been home to places as diverse as the Self-Threading Needle Co, Craftacres greeting cards, the US Military and Minneapolis Public Schools. However, recently it has been mostly vacant and underused.
In 2012 the building was purchased by Dominium and converted to affordable housing. Buzza Lofts consists of 136 units, common areas and support spaces. The conversion of the building to apartments adds much needed workforce housing in the "uptown" neighborhood. One hundred percent of the apartments are available to tenants earning less than 60% of AMI.
In the Twin Cities area, high demand for rental units has made it increasingly difficult for low-income renters to afford housing costs. According to a recent
report by the Minnesota Housing Partnership, the vacancy rate for apartments
renting for under $1000 per month fell to 2.4% last quarter. This is far below a "balanced" vacancy rate of 5%. As vacancy rates decline, rental costs have increased. Uptown's abundance of entertainment venues, retail shops, and park space further heightens local demand. For those working in the area (often in low-paid, part-time positions), finding affordable housing close to work can be incredibly difficult. Buzza Lofts provides a high-quality solution to meet local housing demand.
Dominium was able to maintain the historical integrity of the building's structure while equipping each unit with modern features such as concrete floors, exposed duct work, granite countertops, and energy star rated stainless steel appliances. Eco-conscious lighting, water flow, and heating systems were also incorporated into the renovation, helping to reduce the building's environmental impact. Common spaces include an exercise room, bike storage area, rooftop deck, resident lounge, and an outdoor patio with seating and grilling areas. Buzza Lofts is located near the Midtown Greenway, public transit, and retail shops, allowing residents to walk or bike to local shops. One resident noted, "My daughter and I LOVE living at Buzza Lofts! What's not to love with a beautiful kitchen, floor-to-ceiling windows, cozy community spaces, friendly neighbors, affordable rent, great management, and living right in the middle of Uptown? We're so lucky!"
In order to complete this renovation, which cost $140,000 per unit, Dominium had to draw upon a number of financing sources. This project utilized a combination of federal and state tax credits and environmental clean-up grants from Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council. Tax-exempt bonds were provided by the City of Minneapolis and purchased by US Bank, who provided the first mortgage loan and equity bridge loan. Layering these different funding sources made the $34.5 million redevelopment project feasible.