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2023 Residential Development that Overcame Significant Obstacles


Developer: A partnership of Meghan Elliott, Jon Commers, and Grant Carlson
Location: Duluth, MN


First-time developers Meghan Elliott (Jillpine), Jon Commers (Donjek) and Grant Carlson (Blue Limit) combined to help transform a long-vacant county jail into Leijona, 33-mixed income apartments in Duluth, Minnesota. The former St. Louis County Jail, which was built in 1924, decommissioned in the 1980s and abandoned in 2008, had 99 steel detention cells that acted as the interior structure, meaning the developers had to restructure the interior, oversee substantial abatement of lead-based paint and collaborate with multiple stakeholders. Leijona was completed just days before the expiration of the Minnesota’s since-reinstated state HTC allocation at the end of 2022. The 33 apartments will help address a severe housing shortage in Duluth and the property is within walking distance of major employers, public transportation, entertainment and retail. The financing included $3.2 million in state and federal HTC equity from MinnWest Bank, as well as a broad mix of other public and private financing.

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