Renaissance Box

Renaissance-Box-530The grand opening of Renaissance Box, located at 200 10th Street East (St. Paul) was held on October 28, 2011. Developed by Aeon, a local housing nonprofit organization, the renovated building and remediated site is now home to 70 affordable rental units in Lowertown St. Paul. Shortly after the grand opening, all of the units were rented and the building is now at full occupancy. Renaissance Box features efficiencies, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Of the 70 affordable apartments, 61 percent are targeted for individuals with annual incomes of $21,000 to $33,000. Fourteen of the units are reserved for individuals transitioning out of long-term homelessness who are earning between $10,000 and $17,000 a year.


The building, built around 1915, was the former location of the O’Donnell Shoe Company factory. The property is listed on the National List of Historic Places. The building was vacant for years and had become rundown. Impacted soil was found on the property and the site entered the Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) program. Aeon saw the potential for the blighted building to provide affordable housing and took on the project. This, Aeon’s twelfth historic preservation project, received the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota’s Adaptive Reuse Award. It is also recognized for its green design and is poised to achieve LEED Gold certification in 2012.

Environmental issues and the cleanup process

  • Soil impacted with lead, mercury, arsenic, barium, cadmium, and polyaromatic hydrocarbon and petroleum compounds was discovered on the property during the Phase II Environmental Investigation.
  • The extent of impacted soil was determined and 1,389 cubic yards of impacted soil were excavated and disposed off site.

Redevelopment of the site

  • An old addition to the building was demolished to make way for the new building entrance.
  • All hazardous material releases were assessed and properly removed from the building prior to renovation.
  • The site was landscaped after the soil cleanup to include grassed areas and a picnic patio in the back yard of the site.
  • The site was vegetated with grass, trees, shrubs and ornamental garden plants.

Environmental and economic benefits

  • Renaissance Box contains 70 units of housing, all of which have been rented.
  • The building contains an outdoor patio, workout room, a craft room and an event room.
  • The building has been redesigned with energy-saving features and contains a green garden that filters and utilizes building runoff.
  • Some of the general site runoff is directed to rain gardens to reduce stormwater impacts.
  • It is estimated that Renaissance Box will generate $62,000 per year in property taxes by 2013.

Assurances received

  • September 28, 2011: A No Further Action Letter for releases to soil was issued by the VIC Program.
  • November 14, 2011: A Full Certificate of Completion was issued on by the VIC Program.
  • September 27, 2011: A Petroleum Closure letter was issued.

Institutional controls

No institutional controls were required at the Renaissance Box property.

Project partners

  • Aeon
  • Minnesota Housing
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
    • VIC staff Ed Olson, Project Manager, and John Betcher, Hydrogeologist
    • Petroleum Brownfield staff Mark Koplitz, Project Manager, and Bassou Oulgout, Hydrogeologist
  • The Javelin Group – Environmental Consultant