Lea Center on track for retail use by June

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

Tribune staff reports

A groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the Lea Center building was conducted to share the progress of the new apartment building’s renovations.

&uot;We look forward to celebrating this historic effort,&uot; said Bob Graham, Albert Lea city planner. &uot;This is an exciting development for the community. The project will be a cornerstone to our efforts to promote the downtown area.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

The lofts at Lea Center will feature 37 affordable apartment homes, 6,380 square feet of commercial and retail space, and an underground parking facility.

The apartments will be one- or two-bedroom units complete with combined living and dining areas, full kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and closet and storage areas. The building will have a community room, laundry rooms on each floor and a roof top outdoor gathering area for residents.

The renovation will retain the building’s masonry details, openings and window locations, as well as the historical interior spaces, including corridor locations. Existing door locations in corridors along with details, trim and textures will be retained where possible.

The facility received more than $5.5 million in funding from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the city of Albert Lea and PNC Multifamily Capital.

MetroPlains Development, LLC, a St. Paul-based housing developer, agreed to acquire the building from the city of Albert Lea in July 2002, and became the owner in December 2004.

&uot;We plan to have the lofts at Lea Center ready for occupancy by September,&uot; said John Errigo, development coordinator with MetroPlains, a St. Paul-based housing developer who owns the building. &uot;We are on track to open the leasing office and model unit in late June.&uot;