Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Photo Friday - Saint Anthony Falls

An icon of the Twin Cities, the Saint Anthony Falls are located northeast of downtown Minneapolis between the 3rd / Central Avenue Bridge and the Stone Arch Bridge. Also known as the Falls of St. Anthony, it was the only natural major waterfall on the Upper Mississippi River. I say was because the construction of a tunnel in 1869 caused part of the natural falls to collapse. To prevent this section of river from becoming a useless rapids area, a concrete overflow spillway (also called an "apron") was constructed. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, a series of locks and dams were built to extend navigation to points upstream.

Saint Anthony Falls

The falls is the birthplace of the former city of St. Anthony and Minneapolis, as the water was a source of power for several industries. The two cities joined in 1872 to combine and fully utilize their economic power for milling operations. As a result, from 1880 to about 1930 Minneapolis was the "Flour Milling Capital of the World" and much of the evidence can still be found here, like the Pillsbury "A" Mill and the Washburn "A" Mill. The area around the falls has been designated as the Saint Anthony Falls Historic District. Read an interesting history of the Saint Anthony Falls and Saint Anthony of Padua.


More Assistance for Twin Cities Home Buyers

It was less than two weeks ago I was telling you about some recently approved, enacted, or improved home buyer programs within Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and St. Louis Park. Now I have even more to tell you about.

First, the Ramsey County Housing and Redevelopment Authority has approved the acceptance of a $1.4 million federal grant to get buyers into suburban foreclosed properties in four target areas of Maplewood and Little Canada. The money in the Opening Doors program is to be used to buy property, demolish or fix up vacant buildings and provide financial assistance to qualified first-time homebuyers. Three parts of the program include:
  • $100,000 for deferred loans for eligible buyers who purchase a property in one of the target areas. Eligible buyers will have incomes between 80 percent and 120 percent of area median income.
  • $350,000 in deferred loan financing for buyers of homes that need to be fixed up before moving in.
  • $807,000 to buy, fix and sell or rent five properties in the target areas. Once the homes are sold, the money would be used to buy, fix and sell or rent another property. The county would contract with for-profit and nonprofit developers.
The county applied for the grant, which comes from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a nearly $4 billion initiative, approved last year as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act. The Opening Doors Program isn't in effect yet because the money hasn't officially been put in the county's coffers.

Second, the Dakota County Community Development Agency has launched the Silver Lining Loan Program to help qualified buyers purchase foreclosed properties in specific areas of the county where houses stand...

Photo Friday - Pillsbury "A" Mill

The Pillsbury "A" Mill is located at 300 2nd St SE, Minneapolis, MN, and it overlooks the St. Anthony Falls.  Of the giant flour mills that made Minneapolis the milling capital of the United States between 1880 and 1930, Pillsbury "A" Mill is the only one still standing.

Pillsbury A Mill

At the time it was built, the Pillsbury Company wanted a building that was beautiful as well as functional. Local architect LeRoy S. Buffington was hired to design it. The largest, most advanced mill in the world at its completion in 1881, the "A" Mill was the standard by which all other mills of its time were measured.  The six-story building had stone walls six feet thick at the base tapering to eighteen inches at the top. With improvements and additions over the years, it became the world's largest flour mill.

The Pillsbury "A" Mill is now a National Historic Landmark. Currently, there are plans to make some changes to the 7.9 acre Pillsbury "A" Mill Complex site. The project would preserve and renovate for commercial and residential use all but one of the historic structures at the site. Only the concrete grain elevators now located along 2nd Street SE would be demolished. Six new mid- or high-rise residential buildings and their linking structures along Main Street would be added to the site. There doesn't seem to be much news on this, however, most likely due to the housing and construction slump.

Inside Pillsbury Park

In this photo you can see a closer view of the Pillsbury "A" Mill from inside Philip W. Pillsbury Park. Strangely enough, this park isn't listed...

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis March 2009

New posted listings for homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, decreased in March according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors' Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  Throughout the month, there were 556 new listings in Saint Paul, compared to the 674 homes put up on the market during March 2008.  That is a decrease of -17.5%. Comparatively, there were 548 new listings in January and 480 in February.  All St. Paul neighborhoods saw their listings decrease this time. Here is a breakdown of new listings by Saint Paul neighborhood:


Minneapolis Real Estate Market Analysis March 2009

According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors' Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities, the number of new listings in Minneapolis posted in March 2009 decreased compared to 2008's statistics.   There were 963 new listings within Minneapolis, while there were 990 in 2008, a decrease of just -2.7%. The University community saw a big increase in new listings while most other communities saw their new listings fall.  Here is an inventory of March 2009 new listings in Minneapolis by community:
Camden 133 - 7.0%
Downtown Minneapolis 142 + 13.6%

Twin Cities Lawn & Gardening Events & Classes

If you're really feeling the itch in your green thumb, there are some events and classes coming up you might want to know about, starting with one happening tonight. All of these Twin Cities events can be found and registered for at the Minneapolis Community Education website (these were under Gardening):

Low Input Lawn Care. Reduce the use of lawn care products, water, time and labor involved in maintaining a healthy lawn. The cost to attend it $15 and it is occurring at the Winnetka Learning Center, 7940 55th Avenue N. in New Hope, MN. It is taking place on Tuesday, April 14, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Creating a Landscape Plan for Your Home. This is a six-session class that costs between $110 and $130 and requires advanced registration. The first session takes place at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive in Chaska, MN, on April 16 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Managing Yard Waste and Composting. Pretty self-explanatory. The price is $15. It takes place at the Plymouth Middle School at 10011 36th Av. N. in Plymouth, MN on Tuesday, April 21 at 7:00 pm.

Native Ferns for Our Gardens and Landscapes. Tom Bittinger of Midwest Native Ferns will speak at the Twin Cities Chapter Wild Ones meeting. This free event takes place on Tuesday, April 21 from 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm at the Wood Lake Nature Center, 6710 Lake Shore Dr. in Richfield, MN.

Pruning and Care for Trees and Shrubs. Again, pretty straighforwrd. It costs $15 and takes place at Lake Harriet, 4912 Vincent Av. S in Minneapolis, MN. The class occurs on April 22 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Raving About Rain Gardens. Learn how to start a rain garden. Reservations required. It takes place on Wednesday, April 22, at 6:30 pm and the cost is $19. The place to be is Burnsville High School, 600 E. Hwy. 13 in Burnsville, MN. (See Also: Green Thumbs for Blue Lakes) ...

Falling in Love... with a House

After several blog postings of home staging tips, techniques, and examples, it was time to revisit WHY home staging helps houses to sell. So, put on your lab coats, we are dissecting the science behind the falling in love with a house.

THE HUMAN BODY: Several chemical and physical reactions occur in the body when it encounters something it loves - pupils dilate, heart rate increases, and endorphins (happy hormones) flood the blood stream. Now, this may all seem very "unromantic," but these reactions trigger an emotional response which creates a memorable experience for buyers who are visiting your house.

THE EMOTIONAL RESPONSE: Studies indicate that buyers decide within 5 seconds of seeing a house if they like it or not. I believe that the emotional response when purchasing is instantaneous. Whether buyers like, dislike, or are indifferent about the property they are viewing, they have drawn a conclusion about the house from their immediate emotional reaction. This is exactly why home staging is essential.

THE HOME STAGING FACTOR: The purpose of home staging in the process of selling a home is to create an environment in the house that buyers will (literally) love. Using stylish furnishing and design principles, home staging sets the scene for what life will be like when THIS house is purchased while re-enforcing the emotional connection for buyers.


Early Spring Home Maintenance Checklist II

About a month ago, I wrote a post called Early Spring Home Maintenance Checklist. Well, this is going to be part two, or II, of that checklist. The first was spring home maintenance that could be taken care of, regardless of how bad the weather might get outside. It is Minnesota, after-all, and I don't need to tell you how unpredictable it is. Remember the snow storm on April 11, 2008? Ugh. This is a list of stuff you can probably start doing now that it seems to be really warming up outside (knock on wood). The spring selling season is really gearing up, so following these steps to make sure your home is in tip-top condition could make a big difference in its curb appeal.
  • Check and maintain roof shingles
  • Unclog and Secure Gutters and Downspouts
  • Inspect siding, brickwork, or stucco for deterioration
  • Pressure wash siding
  • Paint exterior if it needs it - before it gets too hot to do it!
  • Inspect decks and porches for rotting and unsecured boards or railings
  • Pressure wash deck & patios
  • Examine putty/caulk lines & weather stripping around exterior windows and doors
  • Check and Re-caulk Flashing
  • Grade ground around house from up to down to funnel water away
  • Inspect and seal asphalt or concrete driveways (use correct sealer for climate)
Though you might be tempted, like me, to get into doing some yard work, this brief article in the Star Tribune has some common sense approaches about what projects you might want to hold off on. It's no coincidence the day after this article was published I started my own little potted garden to tide me over. And there you have it! Some more spring maintenance tips to get you started on preparing for the home selling season....

More Twin Cities Real Estate Events - April

More Twin Cities Real Estate Events for April.

Where Do I Begin? Cabinet Concepts and Interiors at 6563 City West Pkwy. in Eden Prairie will be holding a class on Kitchen Remodeling on Monday, April 13, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The cost to attend is $24.

Is There A Do-It-Yourself Solar Project Out There? At this event, learn what you can do yourself, and more importantly when to hire a professional. It's free to attend and will be held at Natural Built Home, 4020 Minnehaha Av. S. Minneapolis, MN.  It takes places from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Tuesday, April 14.

ABC's of Finding and Negotiating your First Home. Learn how to purchase the best house and negotiate the best price and terms in a buyer's market. Avoid common mistakes and Internet pitfalls that can cost you thousands. Learn how to make smart decisions when choosing a mortgage to fit your budget and dreams. Learn about first time buyer programs, zero down and government loans and grants. It will be held on Wednesday April 15 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM at Anwatin, 256 Upton Ave. South, Minneapolis. The cost is $15.

If you can't make this one, another session will be held Monday, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM on April 20 at Henry, 4320 Newton Avenue North, Minneapolis.

Is Your Home Healthy? Continuing with the trend of home improvement classes named in question-form, learn what causes basement mold, moisture and mildew and how to correct it at this class. The price to attend is $15 and it will be held at the Winnetka Learning Center located at 7940 55th Ave. N. in New Hope from 9:00 am to 11:00 am on Saturday, April 18.

Home Improvement and Design Expo. At this event, exhibitors and vendors will show the latest in home improvement resources, energy efficiency, services, and more. Have a question? You can "Ask the Expert" and likely get an answer. This event is being held at the Schwan Events Center,...

Photo Friday - Stone Arch Bridge

It's Friday, and I've decided that Friday's are going to be fun and photography related. Last week I showcased some fun photoblogs. Today, I'm going to showcase some of our own pictures from around the Twin Cities community.

Stone Arch Bridge

The first post is going to be about the Stone Arch Bridge. The Stone Arch Bridge crosses the Mississippi River at Saint Anthony Falls, between the 3rd Avenue Bridge and the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridgein downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was built originally in 1883 by railroad tycoon James J. Hill to be railroad bridge for his Great Northern Railway. There was also a passenger station on the west bank of the river.

Stone Arch Bridge

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 as a part of the Saint Anthony Falls Historic District. The bridge ceased to be used as a railroad bridge in 1978 (or 1965? I found two different dates for this) and fell into a period of disuse. It was repaired and adapted in the early 1990s to be a pedestrian bridge, which is its present use. As part of the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, the bridge is very popular with walkers and bikers.