Saint Paul's $1 3M Campus Challenge

As part of an effort to redevelop a 61-acre site in St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff, which includes an old 3M Co. campus, the St. Paul Port Authority is selling four buildings for $1 to the new Ironton Asset Fund. But there's a big hitch.

Jim Stolpestad, manager of the Ironton Asset Fund, is ready to take on the challenge. To get the buildings, Stolpestad and his group have to come up with a plan for how to reuse the buildings and get leases signed with tenants who agree to hire a certain number of workers depending on the size of the space. They have to make a good-faith effort to hire St. Paul residents and pay them at least $11 per hour plus benefits. And he has to do it in one year. A tall order, right?

The $1 package includes Building 21, 3M's former corporate headquarters, which was built in 1939 with restrained Moderne styling. Preservationists consider it significant. The buildings qualify for state and federal historic tax credits. Many other buildings on the site already have been demolished.

The Ironton Asset Fund is a $10 million fund with about 22 investors investing in distressed assets. The fund's first purchase was the old Chittenden & Eastman Building on University Avenue in St. Paul, which will be converted into market-rate apartments.

The Port Authority calls it the largest redevelopment project it's pursued in 20 years.

"It's certainly the most exciting thing on our plate right now," said Monte Hilleman, the Port Authority's vice president of redevelopment.

The clock is ticking. If the plan doesn't materialize, the future of the four buildings is in question. But as an East Side native, where the project is actually located, he could have a good shot at accomplishing his task.

Read more at the Star Tribune.

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