ST. PAUL-A new 5,200-sf community center opens Thursday that is expected to become a key part of the $50 million Ames Lake neighborhood revitalization project on the city’s East Side. The center includes renovation of 364 affordable housing units spread over several dozen buildings that is owned and managed by Real Estate Equities. Ultimately, with consolidation and demolition of some of the units, the development will result in more than 300 rental units in single-family houses, apartments and townhouses.

The project is in a troubled neighborhood bounded by Rose Street, Barclay Street, Magnolia Avenue and Hazelwood Street, which is east of Interstate 35E and north of Interstate 94. The center will have space for 100 people, a computer lab, a multipurpose art room and a full-service kitchen and accesses a plaza with a playground and green space for family gatherings and recreation.

Three years ago, Real Estate Equities purchased 34 1960s-era buildings and started a $50 million project to renovate or redevelop the buildings into a variety of mixed-income housing options in conjunction with the City of St. Paul, Fannie Mae, the St. Paul Foundation and the Federal Housing Urban Development program. Ultimately, there will be 27 buildings and 11 new town homes totaling 308 units.

In an effort to improve resident stability and safety, Real Estate Equities is working with Opportunity Neighborhood Development Corp., a nonprofit development group that also coordinates services for tenants. The new center is a key part of that effort, which reflects an increasing number of large property management firms that provide low-cost housing are starting to add a social service component to their tenants, according to housing officials.

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