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One Roof addresses apartment fire, future plans for Brownstone Apartments.

Duluth's Brownstone Apartments
Duluth's Brownstone Apartments(KBJR)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 7:52 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (CBS 3 Duluth) - On Tuesday, One Roof Community Housing addressed a fire that broke out on one of their properties Friday night.

The non-profit purchased the 600 block of East 4th Street five years ago as part of a planned affordable housing project.

As the years went on, they determined the Brownstone Apartments on the east end of the block no longer fit their vision.

“We weren’t able to pull together a project of that magnitude and instead settled on doing a project on the westernly two thirds of the block,” said Jeff Corey, Executive Director of One Roof.

Since purchasing the more than century-old building, Corey said it has caused them some trouble.

Now, they plan to sell the building to a new buyer to continue their vision of restoring it to life.

“Our involvement in that block has been to attempt to revitalize it and to turn it from a struggling space in the community to an asset,” Corey said.

They initially planned to sell the building as early as two years ago, but by law, the building needed to be vacant before closing on a sale.

When the pandemic broke out, the national and statewide eviction moratoriums kept them from moving residents out.

Since the moratoriums have now ended, One Roof had asked residents to vacate the building by the end of November.

But Friday night’s fire took out the buildings utilities, meaning all remaining units in the building are now condemned.

With all residents out of the building earlier than expected, One Roof hopes they can finally move forward with the sale.

“We’re anticipating that the building will close in the next 60-75 days and construction will begin soon after that,” Corey said.

Gary Eckenberg, One Roof’s Board Chair, said the extra time gave them the opportunity to make sure the buyer fit their vision for affordable community housing.

“It took us two years longer to be able to come up with a plan to sell that building to a developer that would make it affordable AND a benefit to that neighborhood,” he said.

Eckenburg says once they close on the sale of the Brownstone Apartments, they’ll be able to start work on their Brewery Creek housing project next door.

That $18.6 million dollar affordable housing complex aims to provide housing for homeless youth, disabled residents, and individuals making less than 60% of Duluth’s median income.

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