By Donna Kimura
Affordable Housing Finance
The historic Buzza building served a wide variety of uses before finally becoming needed affordable housing in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood.
Built in 1907, it was originally space for the Self-Threading Needle Co. and then the Craftacres Greeting Card Co. owned by George Buzza. During World War II, the building was used by the Department of War for the production of optical instruments and then acquired by the Veterans Administration as a services hub. Minneapolis Public Schools took possession in 1971 and used the building as a school and an adult education center.
While other developers considered scrapping the enduring building, Dominium found a way to convert it into 136 apartments serving residents earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income. The building offers studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments.
“Buzza Lofts is providing affordable housing in an area where rents typically cost twice as much,” says Chris Barnes, vice president and project partner at Dominium.
The $35.2 million project was financed with three types of tax credits—federal low-income housing, federal historic, and the recently established state historic—with equity from RBC Capital Markets. It also used tax-exempt bonds and an environmental cleanup grant.