The two conjoining projects of Custom House apartments and Hyatt Place hotel are one of the biggest development projects completed in 2016 for St. Paul, Minnesota. Towering over the East side of the Twin Cities, along the Mississippi riverfront, - in one building - the 17-story apartment complex and hotel is 748,000 square feet. Previously utilized as a post office, the Eugene McCarthy Post Office was completed in 1934. It was recognized as the "most modern" post office during its time. The post office operated as the main postal distribution center in the St. Paul area until 2010, and was purchased by St. Paul-based Exeter Group in 2013 after the post office relocated to the downtown U.S. Bank Building. By May 2014 the historical building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The purchase of the historical building cost Exeter $5.25 million and building permits issued by the City of St. Paul were $38.4 million. However, as part of the development plan, Exeter sold the 2nd through 5th floors to Des Moines-based Nelson Construction and Development for $2.85 million. These floors now house the Hyatt Place hotel, while the rest of the building belongs to Custom House apartments. Exeter Chairman, Jim Stolpestad, revealed that the project totals to $120 million. Fortunately, the Custom House and hotel project was made possible with state and federal historic tax credits of $40 million. In addition, the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority gave the Custom House $5.8 million in tax increment financing to help with the building’s renovation in 2014.
With the support of the state and federal government, Exeter and Nelson want to make use of the 80-year-old Depression Era building; preserving Minnesota’s distinct history. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman expresses that “To reclaim a building like this, to be able to bring it back to life … (is) not easy … But you do it because it’s an important part of the historic fabric of our city.” Coleman further explains that the Custom House and hotel project are parts of St. Paul’s strategic plan that encompasses other investments such as the Metro Transit’s Green Line and new CHS Field in Lowertown.
Moreover, the two companies and the government hope to utilize the space to uplift the Downtown St. Paul’s economy. Danny Heggen, Nelson’s project manager, states that “St. Paul is a great market … there’s a lot happening in Lowertown right now that it makes this a prime opportunity for the Hyatt Place brand.” With businesses blooming to the Downtown St. Paul area, the city officials truly hope that the 202-unit apartment complex and 149-guestroom hotel will be the next new attraction for local Minnesotans and tourists alike.
How will the Custom House project and Hyatt Place hotel transform and uplift the Downtown St. Paul community? What are some new renovation or historical preservation initiatives in your city? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Images by Tam Nguyen. Data linked to sources.