With Lowertown development, union pension fund invests in Building Trades workers

(Union AdvocateThe AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust treated the men and women working to redevelop a property in St. Paul’s Lowertown district to lunch Aug. 31, highlighting the trust’s unique approach to investing union pension funds in union-built construction projects. The development, 333 on the Park, is transforming an eight-story office building, originally constructed in 1913, into an apartment building with 134 market-rate units. HIT, which pools together union pension funds, has invested $27.7 million in the $42 million project.

Upon completion, 333 on the Park will have generated an estimated 190 jobs for members of the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades.

About 120 people attended the appreciation lunch last month, including construction workers, HIT staff and representatives of unions, general contractor Frana Companies and management company Timberland Partners.

“The Housing Investment Trust is pleased to partner with the men and women of the St. Paul building trades to rehabilitate 333 on the Park by investing their pension capital in their community,” HIT Chief Operating Officer Ted Chandler told attendees.

Situated adjacent to Mears Park and two blocks from the Mississippi River, 333 on the Park will offer residents easy access to recreation, transit, shopping and employment options. It’s connected to the Saint Paul skyway system, and the Metro Transit’s Green Line runs right past the property.

Don Mullin, executive secretary of the St. Paul Building Trades, said the development would both create jobs and increase housing options in the area.

web-333park-eatinbg“This is a good example of investing union pension dollars to create construction jobs with health care and retirement benefits, and at the same time benefiting the community at large,” Mullin said. “It’s a win-win scenario for St. Paul residents, the HIT, and the St. Paul Building Trades.”

“It’s good to come to a job with quality people and work, giving the company a high-quality product,” Jerry Grobe, a member of Cement Masons Local 633 who’s working on the HIT project, said.

The development of 333 on the Park brings the HIT’s total investment in St. Paul to $139 million on 10 projects since 1991. The trust has invested a total of $564 million in 42 projects in the Twin Cities over that time, building or preserving 6,500 housing units and creating an estimated 5,075 union construction jobs, as well as approximately 6,775 jobs across other industries.

“We look forward to working with HIT on its next project,” IBEW Local 110 Business Manager Jamie McNamara said.