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"It's a huge deal": St. Paul project transforms golf course into affordable housing for hundreds

New affordable housing project in the works in east St. Paul
New affordable housing project in the works in east St. Paul 02:26

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It's a project unlike any the midwest has ever seen, and  it's happening on the east side of St. Paul. Turns out, a major construction project is set to majorly change lives.

On Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road, crews are busy at work, building something that's hard to quantify. Shereese Turner is the chief program officer with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

"It's a huge deal. This is our biggest development. I get really excited talking about this because this is huge for us and the east side of St. Paul," Turner said.

Turner  understands the value of affordable housing in the deepest of ways.

"When I moved here in 1995, I was homeless with my three children, imagine. And here I me, a two-time homeowner, I own two homes," she said.

Now her organization is helping partner with the port authority on this 112 acre St. Paul project called "The Heights."

Kathryn Sarnecki is chief development officer of St. Paul Port Authority.

"The St. Paul Port Authority's goals for this site were creating 1,000 living wage jobs, creating 1,000 attainable affordable housing units and really pushing sustainability and how green we could make this site," said Sarnecki.

The land was was a golf course that was contaminated with mercury, but not anymore. In fact, this land will be exceptionally clean and green - with a rare platinum LEED Certification. Only 20 communities in the world will have this level of sustainability. They will have solar panels on all buildings. There will be EV charging stations, acres of trails and affordable places to rent and own.

Turner says this project goes deep.

"My children, my adult children are homeowners, so planting that seed is what I had to do 26 years ago and I look at my kids who are all homeowners who are building their own wealth, this is how you transform communities," she said.

The Heights will have apartments, single homes, townhouses and senior housing. It will also have onsite job opportunities. The project will be in the works for the next five years.

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