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Summer demolition: bringing down Bunge Tower

The demolition will make way for low-income housing in the Como area.

Some Southeast Como residents might be hearing what sounds like thunder on a sunny day. But the noise is likely a wrecking ball hitting the historic Bunge Tower, where a demolition project is currently underway.

After demolition is complete, construction will begin on a housing project that will include condominiums, low-income housing and supportive housing.

The current demolition project – which will not affect the tower itself – should

run through June or July, according to Chris Wilson , the director of real estate development for Project for Pride in Living .

“What we really want to do is create a range of housing in the Como neighborhood,” he said.

The plan is spearheaded by PPL, which is working with the Cabrini Partnership and Habitat for Humanity.

PPL will ultimately be in charge of seven for-sale units, with Habitat for Humanity in charge of five units.

PPL will hand off the remaining 139 units in the tower to developer Jeff Laux, who will convert them into for-sale condominiums .

The Cabrini Partnership will operate 20 supportive housing units out of a total 85 rental units, in which staff will help individuals who have experienced homelessness, chemical dependency and mental health issues find permanent, supportive housing.

Developers expect to complete construction of the 236 total housing units in phases.

The first rental units are slated for completion in summer 2008, followed by Habitat for Humanity houses in fall 2008. More rental units are scheduled to be finished in summer 2009.

In the final stage, the remaining townhouses and the condominiums in the tower will be done by spring 2010, at the earliest, depending on unit sales prior to construction.

Currently, the Cabrini Partnership has a house at 1025 6th St. S.E., where Mary Morris is the executive director.

Morris said she wanted to expand the organization’s services in a collegiate neighborhood, which is rich with resources for people to learn and develop life skills. She also said her organization is good for a community.

“The students feel we are the quietest in the neighborhood,” Morris said. “We’re a good neighbor.”

A few blocks from the demolition site, anthropology and visual arts student Eva Cohen said she has hardly been affected by the project’s noise. She also said she supports the initiative.

“I think there’s a real shortage of affordable housing in Minneapolis,” she said. “I feel that a lot of units should be reserved for low-income residents.”

The low-income and supportive housing will be available to people who are employed full-time, meaning few students are likely to live there.

Recent University graduate Meleah Murphy , who lives six blocks east of the demolition site, said she had problems with this development plan in a neighborhood heavily populated by students.

“It doesn’t seem like the right location,” she said.

Journalism junior Joe Nelson , who lives behind the Bunge Tower, said the demolition-related noise has disturbed him.

“It woke me up during finals,” he said. “That really bothered me.”

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