Lake Calhoun high-rise may be in store for publicly financed $2.4 million rehab

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November 1, 2012 by Sarah M

By Nick Halter

The big stucco high-rise on Lake Calhoun’s west side may be in line for $2.4 million in public financing to replace the building’s failing exterior and upgrade its windows and doors.

Condominium owners of Calhoun Place, 3131 Excelsior Blvd., are asking the city to issue bonds for the rehab because at least three banks have rejected their loan requests. Owners say they’re unable to sell their units because of the looming exterior issues.

Tom Ellingsworth, the Calhoun Place Condominium Association board president, said the building has poor insulation and caulking that could lead to water damage. The proposed improvements would replace the building’s exterior, plus make the units more energy efficient. Replaced windows and glass doors would reduce the noise from Excelsior Boulevard, one of the busiest spots in the city.  

The nine-level complex was built in 1987. It was converted from apartments to condos in 2004. When owners like Ellingsworth bought their condos in 2004, they didn’t know about the pending exterior issues.

The condo associations settled with the conversion developer for $400,000.

Owners are trying to be the first to use a new city financing tool called a Housing Improvement Area. The City Council created it in 2011 to help condo and town home associations pay for needed improvements.

If approved for an HIA, the 108 Calhoun Place owners would have to pay the city back for the $2.4 million construction project. The average owner would have to pay $22,000 for the improvements. They could opt to pay up front or over the next 20 years.

Two-bedroom units in the building are listing at $167,500 and $189,900.

The 13-member City Council would need to cast nine votes in order to issue the bonds for the project.

If owners don’t pay their annual fees to the city, the city could draw from the condo association’s account, said Mark Winkelhake, the city’s manager of development finance. If that account dried up, the city would have to use its own money to pay make bond payments.

Ellingsworth declined to say how much the association had in reserves, but said he was confident taxpayers wouldn’t have to foot the bill for delinquent condo owners.

In order to get city financing, 75 percent of unit owners must sign a petition. According to city documents, 83 of 108 owners have signed statements of support, or 77 percent.

On Nov. 7, the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development Committee will vote on a request to have city staff continue to analyze the project.

If staff gets the green light, Winkelhake said the City Council would likely vote on bond issuance sometime in January. Public hearings and petitions signatures would still be needed.

Construction, according to city documents, would run from April to October. 

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