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Dominium selected to rehab Fort Snelling buildings

A joint powers board has chosen Plymouth-based Dominium to rehab 26 long-vacant former military buildings at the Upper Post of Fort Snelling.

Dominium, a developer and manager of affordable housing, wants to convert the buildings to 190 units of affordable rental housing for low-income families. Finance & Commerce first reported Dominium’s plans in May.

The board selected the Dominium proposal among three plans submitted in response to a request for proposals, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith announced Wednesday.

Other proposers were Legacy Development, which wanted to use “eight or nine” of the buildings for a mixed-use development, and Great Prairie Inc., which proposed an Olympic-style training facility, said Larry Peterson, Fort Snelling State Park manager and Upper Post project manager.

Dominium hopes to start construction in 2017.

“We’re pleased that we can move forward with reuse of this historic site,” DNR parks director Erika Rivers said in the statement. “And we’re excited to be working with a partner that has Dominium’s track record in repurposing historic properties.”

Russell Condas, development associate with Dominium, told Finance & Commerce in May that the cost of the proposed development is “up in the air” for now. Historic and housing tax credits are potential funding sources, he said.

Dominium led redevelopment of St. Paul’s Schmidt Brewery on West Seventh Street and the Minneapolis Pillsbury A-Mill into artist’s lofts, among other historic properties.

Dominium will negotiate lease terms with the DNR. The terms require final approval by the State Executive Council, which consists of Minnesota’s governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor and secretary of state.

The buildings were built between 1879 and 1939. They began to empty out in the 1940s and the last user pulled up stakes in the early 1990s.

They’re part of the Fort Snelling National Historic Landmark, “arguably the most important national historic landmark in Minnesota,” said Larry Peterson, Fort Snelling State Park manager and Upper Post project manager, said in May.

A previous RFP for the buildings yielded five responses, including the $50 million charter school proposal from Golden Valley-based Mortenson Development and the Upper Mississippi Academy.

The Minnesota DNR announced in May 2013 that it would negotiate with the Mortenson-Upper Mississippi Academy team, but they were unable to reach a lease agreement.

In 2013, a joint powers board was formed to solicit and oversee options to reuse the property.

The joint powers board includes representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, Hennepin County, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the Minnesota Historical Society.

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