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Historic E.S. Hoyt House for Sale in Red Wing

An incredible piece of Minnesota architectural history has just hit the real estate market in Red Wing: The E.S. Hoyt House. This extraordinary home was designed by Minneapolis-based architecture firm of Purcell & Elmslie and the Barker & Hedges Team with Re/Max Results has been chosen to market this fantastic property.

Located at 300 Hill Street in Red Wing, Minnesota, it was built in 1913 for E.S. Hoyt, who was president of the famous Red Wing Stoneware Company. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since the 1970s. Many beautiful homes have been preserved in Red Wing, but the Prairie School style Hoyt House stands out from the crowd of Second Empire, Italianate, Gothic and Greek revivals found in this Mississippi River town. With its distinct T-shape, low hipped roof, and deep eaves, this nearly century-old house still has a modern appearance. The exterior is a bright red color scheme, with brick on the bottom level and red stucco on the top. Mortar lines, wide bands of color, and rows of art glass windows accentuate the distinctly horizontal characteristics of this Prairie School style home.

The house was designed by William Gray Purcell and George Grant Elmslie, the namesakes of the architectural practice most widely recognized as Purcell & Elmslie (P&E). P&E was the architecture firm second most commissioned to construct Prairie School style buildings, with the first being Frank Lloyd Wright himself. This isn’t surprising, as Elmslie had actually worked alongside Wright for several years before joining P&E. When P&E dissolved in 1921, it had offices in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis.

The two-story, 10-room, 4,000-square-foot Hoyt house is generous and open, while still providing adequate privacy. The home’s first level has the living room, dining room, kitchen,...

Beautifying Brooklyn Center's Bass Lake Road

Brooklyn Center is undertaking a make-over for Bass Lake Road Streetscape and Regional Trail Project. The intention is to beautify Bass Lake Road from Brooklyn Boulevard to Highway 100.

Highlights of the project include building a pedestrian bridge and improving water quality by creating a nontraditional median design to filter and treat water that usually runs off into Shingle Creek, said Steve Lillehaug, Brooklyn Center's director of public works. There's an aesthetic element, as well. Planners want to snazz up the landscaping, install a pedestrian plaza and benches, paint the concrete, and improve the lighting. City officials hope the facelift will lead to other improvements in the area.

"There is certainly an appeal that if you build good things then other good things will come around it," Lillehaug said. "It's really to draw good developers to the city and to encourage existing property owners to keep up their properties. We definitely have vacant properties through that corridor."

Funds for the $4.2 million project came from a $2 million federal grant under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. Hennepin County kicked in about $400,000. Three Rivers Park District contributed $350,000 toward the regional trail and a new pedestrian bridge over Shingle Creek. The city will pick up the rest of the tab.

The project, slated for completion in October, is one of many steps Brooklyn Center has taken in its quest to make itself desirable to visitors, developers, businesses, and residents.

"I see the city going forward," [Mayor Tim] Willson said. "There are a number of properties to work on. We're just waiting for the economy to improve."

Brooklyn Center MN real estate

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Greening Minnesota ~ May 2010

As lovers of the outdoors, Minnesotans try hard to be good caretakers of the environment. Read on to learn about environmentally friendly news that happened recently around the Twin Cities and Minnesota!

The Department of Commerce's Office of Energy Security has reported that more solar energy systems were installed in Minnesota in 2009 than in any other year. 72 solar photovoltaic systems were installed in 2009 with a combined capacity of 784 kilowatts, which is also a record for Minnesota. The previous record was from 2007, when 56 systems were installed, providing 286 kilowatts. Overall, just over two megawatts of electricity are produced in Minnesota by solar panels, which is less than 1% of the state's total energy capacity. Officials expect that number to double by the end of 2010.

A new area will be permanantly preserverd as a green space. For a price tag of $1.96 million, a parcel of land along the Mississippi River will become Washington County's latest park acquisition. Commissioners voted earlier this month to buy the forested property, which has 2,000 feet of shoreline along the Mississippi River. The county's parks director, John Elholm, said the sale should be completed in about a month.

Minneapolis park officials have approved the purchase of a significant piece of upper Mississippi riverfront parkland. The City will spend $7.7 million to buy a little more than 11 acres from Scherer Bros. The purchase not only preserves the land as a green space, it will bridge a key greenbelt gap and eventually will allow trails to be developed farther upriver in northeast Minneapolis. Park commissioners voted unanimously, saying that people living along the upper river deserve waterfront parks just like those in south Minneapolis.

The St. Paul City Council has approved a bike lane project to connect W. 7th Street to Mississippi River Boulevard. Council members voted 6-1 in favor of adding striping, signs, sidewalks, traffic-calming...

Greening Minnesota ~ April 2010

This is the Land of 10,000 Lake and millions of trees. We take our environment seriously. Read on to learn about environmentally friendly news that happened recently around the Twin Cities and Minnesota!

Anoka County Highway Department is working on ways to get fewer people driving on Highway 65 in Blaine. The county has received a $7 million Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant from the Federal Highway Administration to improve mass transit on the corridor. With $1.5 million in matching money, the county has issued a request for proposals for consultants to help create a plan to ferry nine busloads of commuters from Blaine's northern edge into downtown Minneapolis and back.

Also in Anoka County, employees may have saved a few jobs by saving energy (and money). First, lights were dimmed. Utility costs at the government center were reduced by $58,000 in 2009. In 2010, the county is expected to save more than $65,000. Next, Facilities Management and Construction team is changing the heating and cooling set-points in county building from 70/73 to 68/74. That means the heat will kick in at 68 degrees rather than 70 in the winter and the cooling system will trigger on at 74 degrees rather than 73 during the summer. Each degree of change will result in a 3% savings to the annual utilities budget of $720,000. The facilities management and construction team also has turned off most of the government center's lobby lights. The idea is to use natural daylight for lobby activities.

Mulroy’s Body Shop at the corner of 39th Street and Nicollet Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis has the largest array of solar panels in the Twin Cities, generating 30% of the building’s power. The installation of the shop’s 174-panel, 40-kilowatt system was completed in early April as part of a project run by South Minneapolis-based Solarflow Energy. The company offers solar electricity leasing. The company is under contract with Xcel Energy for the project, which involves...

Eagan Takes a Preemptive Strike Against Emerald Ash Borer

Eagan is striking a preemptive blow against the emerald ash borer. The city's weapons of choice? An $89,000 grant and some chainsaws.

Come spring time, Eagan city workers will be evaluating boulevard trees and removing any that have defects which could make them attractive to the emerald ash borer. If a tree is deemed vulnerable, the resident will get an offer for a city worker to remove it to help stave off the nasty beetle. Residents with vulnerable trees on their property, provided they're on boulevards where the city has the right-of-way, will be able to get replacement trees free. The types of trees to be offered are hackberry, honeylocust, bicolor oaks and Kentucky coffee trees.

Minneapolis, Saint Louis Park, and Eagan MN received the 3 largest of 15 grants awarded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment approved by Minnesota voters in November 2008. Cities that have found the beetles, including St. Paul, are receiving bigger grants to battle the ash borer.

"We don't have it yet," added Paul Olson, Eagan's superintendent of parks, "but this is a lot like controlling a major forest fire with a firebreak. We'll be taking out high-risk ash trees, but also using insecticide trunk injections to preserve high-quality ash trees."

Eagan has already taken an inventory of its trees, identifying about 100 that are at currently at risk and need to be removed. About 20 ash trees on boulevards will be treated with pesticides for protection. Eagan has a total of 3,600 ash trees in the city right of way.

The grant covers only the boulevards. Private homeowners can pay for their own protection or removal, but city officials will come out and help assess risks and any possible...

Successful Programs Put Buyers into Foreclosed Homes

Forgivable-loan programs aimed at helping lower-income home buyers have put nearly 200 participants into foreclosed houses in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center. Both cities have offered up to $10,000 for closing or down payment costs to eligible participants who buy foreclosed homes. The interest-free loans are forgiven if the buyer lives in the home for five years.

In Minneapolis, 147 participants have bought homes this year in foreclosure-ridden neighborhoods, mostly in the north, northeast and south-central parts of the city, said Cheris Shoquist, city foreclosure project coordinator.

About 50 others have bought foreclosed homes across Brooklyn Center since that city's program began in March, said Gary Eitel, community development director.

The Brooklyn Center City Council has been updated on the program and has decided to continue it. It gets its funding from $1 million in new taxes generated by a commercial tax increment financing district.

Minneapolis allocated an additional $500,000 to its program after the first $500,000 was snapped up last year by 50 home buyers. At that time, the program had no income limits, but the second installment allows buyers to have up to 120% of the metro-area median household income of $81,000. The city added another $1.5 million to the program from a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank.

Brooklyn Center limits its ReNew Loan program to lower-income, first-time buyers. The ReNew Loan program provides up to $10,000 to each eligible buyer for closing fees or down payments on vacant homes that the seller has registered with the city. Single buyers or couples can have up to the metro median household income; families of three or more can have up to 115% of the median income.

Buyers also may be eligible for up to $8,000 per home from the Pohlad Family Foundation.

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Wells Fargo Partnering with Twin Cities to Reduce Foreclosures

Are you late on mortgage payments, facing foreclosure and have a loan through Minnesota's largest home lender, Wells Fargo? Don't ignore your mail.

San Francisco-based bank Wells Fargo & Co. will turn to the Twin Cities  for help in reaching troubled homeowners. Early next year, Wells Fargo and the two governments of Minneapolis and St. Paul will hold joint workshops where people late on their mortgages can apply to have their loan payments reduced.

Invitations to the events will have Wells Fargo's and the city's names on the envelopes and letterheads in the hopes of getting beleaguered mortgage holders' attention.

This is the first time that Wells Fargo has joined with city governments to reach struggling homeowners facing foreclosure. The partnership comes after the Mortgage Bankers Association announced that 6.98% of nearly 900,000 mortgage holders in Minnesota, or about 62,000 people, had fallen behind on their payments: A record high.

Wells Fargo isn't the first bank to work with the cities, but it is the largest. And it took two years and some urging from city leaders to get to this point. Read more about what it took to get Wells Fargo to the table.

The details of the program were vague, but this is what was printed in the Star Tribune:

There would be an unspecified number of workshops in which borrowers could apply for assistance through the U.S. Treasury's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), a program for reducing monthly mortgage payments. The bank has also agreed to help stabilize neighborhoods by identifying blighted properties and donating them to the cities or to nonprofit groups. On Friday, Wells Fargo presented each city with a $62,500 grant to help first-time home buyers with down payments.

So far, Wells Fargo, Minneapolis, and Saint Paul haven't set targets for how many...

Greening Minnesota - June / July

The regular Greening Minnesota feature was interrupted in June because we were moving over to the new website. But that doesn't mean that the collection of green stories stopped. This month's edition includes stories from and for June and July 2009. This is in some-what chronological order for when the stories were published.

Four creative containers for recycleables (and only recycleables) were unveiled in Mears Park. The Lowertown park is the third location to take part in an experiment by St. Paul and Eureka Recycling to see whether "public space recycling" can be cost effective and help the environment. People can recycle aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles. If you see them, make sure you don't put garbage in them! That can take away from  some of the benefits. St. Paul has set a goal to be waste free by 2020.

Speaking of recycling, you probably know places where you can recycle electronics and cellphones in Minneapolis and St. Paul. But what about electronic chargers? A recent article by the Star Tribune answers that question for you.

Cub Foods and Supervalu have announced that a Cub store has become the first grocer in Minnesota to be awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold NC2.2 Certification. The Cub store, located in the Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, is one of three grocery stores in the nation to successfully achieve LEED Gold Certification. Check out the link to read all about the store's green technology, including its 44 skylights that illuminate 75 percent of regularly occupied spaces using a solar powered GPS system that tracks and redirects sunlight as needed.

Workers have given the Target Center some of its first patches of green. Once completed, the $5.3 million, 2 1/2 acre project will be the fifth-largest green roof in the United States. It will prevent an estimated 3.68 million gallons of rainwater annually from draining into the Mississippi River. It is the the third green...

Edina Preserving Historic Bungalows

The City of Edina wants to ensure that it doesn't lose the bungalows it has left in its Morningside neighborhood. Matching a $5,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, the city will survey the historic bungalows to determine their common architectural features. Then, owners will be able to nominate bungalows as Edina Heritage Landmarks, which will help to guide future remodeling of the homes.

It's a mini-version of what's already been done in the city's historic Country Club neighborhood, where homeowners who want to make significant changes to a house must clear their plans with the Edina Heritage Preservation Board. But instead of designating an entire neighborhood as historic, bungalow preservation would be done house-by-house on a voluntary basis.

Built between 1905 and 1935, the bungalows were homes generally inhabited by working people. These Edina MN homes tend to be less than 1,000 square-feet and are one to one-and-a-half stories tall. Most have low-pitched hip or gable roofs, a porch, and four to six rooms on the main floor. Many have swinging doors between the kitchen and dining room, and built-in buffets and bookcases. The 100 to 125 bungalows make up about 20% of Morningside's 600 houses.

"It's a matter of preserving them," said Joyce Repya, associate Edina city planner. "This identifies the uniqueness of bungalows in Edina. ... It's a charming part of our city, and it's nice to embrace that and not lose it."

Meetings will be held this fall to explain the project. The City of Edina will use the survey to create a list of common characteristics as a guide for homeowners to use if they want to preserve design elements.

The voluntary Edina Heritage Landmark designation means that only homeowners who want to participate will be involved. An individual plan of action would be...

New Ramsey County Program Prepares Vacant Homes for First Time Owners

Though a lot of attention is paid to foreclosures and vacant homes in cities, suburbs can have high rates of both. With 3,000 foreclosed properties in Ramsey County last year and horror stories of rundown homes affecting area neighborhoods, a new foreclosure program is taking aim at the county's suburbs. 25 foreclosed houses in Maplewood MN and Little Canada are going to get some work done, a face lift, and the chance to be a home again.

First time home buyers do not want to deal with homes that have a lot of problems or need a lot of fixing up.  Especially since there are many perfectly good homes on the market without damage.  The Ramsey County HRA has been working to find a model to make these suburban homes more marketable. A $350,000 federal grant, plus another $1.3 million in federal stimulus dollars, is about to make that happen. The funds will be used by Ramsey County to rehab rundown homes, with the investment balanced against the price a first-time home buyer would be willing to pay.

The results is that first time home buyers are getting into fixed-up homes, neighborhoods are being stabilized, and communities are looking more appealing, which may draw even more residents. Here's how it will work:

The county will work with a developer or other intermediary to help them locate and purchase a home. The developer will hold the title to the property, but the county will hold the mortgage.

The county will pay for the repairs to make the home more marketable to first-time home buyers. In the case of the Larpenteur Avenue rambler, that meant upgrades to the plumbing, electrical and heating and cooling systems, as well as new carpets, freshly painted walls and a newly sided garage.

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When a buyer steps forward, the developer gets...