Guardian Angels

Guardian Angels—Former schoolhouse converted to apartments

Guardian Angels—Former schoolhouse converted to apartments

208 East 4th Street, Hastings, Minnesota

This award-winning development included:

  • affordable rental housing (20 apartments, 10 town homes)
  • a battered women’s shelter
  • community education center

Partner organizations:

  • Hastings Community Education
  • Community Action Council
  • St. Edwards Catholic Church
  • City of Hastings
  • Dakota County HRA
  • Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA)

Funding Sources:

  • Section 42 tax credits awarded by the Dakota County HRA
  • Forgivable mortgage awarded from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) for the early acquisition and renovation of the church rectory, as  well as providing 3 additional funding sources for the project
  • The City of Hastings financed the renovation of the Church building to provide for the future community center, as well as provided tax increment financing for the entire project


Entrance to the concerted schoolhouse apartments

In the fall of 2000, St. Edwards Church of Hastings approached Loren Brueggemann, who was currently working in partnership with Sherman Associates, Inc., with the idea of selling their historic school and church for redevelopment. This property, known as Guardian Angels, takes up an entire city block, and consisted of a historic school building, a rectory, and sufficient land for new construction. After several meetings concerning the appropriate reuse of this property, the Church Board agreed to Loren’s idea of converting the existing buildings into affordable housing in order to service the needs of the community.

Once all parties came into agreement on the trajectory of the redevelopment, Loren began speaking with the City of Hastings. It was there that he met John Grossman, director of Hastings HRA, who informed Loren of another pressing need within the community. Community Action Council (CAC), a local, nonprofit, community based organization (currently known as 360 Communities) was going to lose the space that housed their battered women’s shelter. They were in urgent need of a new space, and John wondered if a space for the shelter could be incorporated into the redevelopment.

New town homes

Incorporating the women’s shelter into the redevelopment plan presented an interesting challenge: the shelter had to be moved into the new space far more quickly than the time frame for the entire project allowed.  Knowing that there was no time to lose, Loren sought assistance from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA), who awarded a no-interest, no-payment forgivable mortgage in order to acquire and renovate the rectory ahead of schedule.  St. Edwards Church agreed to sell the rectory before the rest of their property, and the women's shelter was able to successfully move there in 2001, a full year before the rest of the project was finished.

Following the completion of the rectory’s renovation and the successful opening of the Hastings Lewis House (the shelter), work began on the rest of the project. The historic school building was converted into both affordable rental apartments and a family education center (run by Hastings Community Education).  The education center offers adult vocational training, and provides child care for parents with young children. The historic church was also fully renovated into a community center, which offers art and dance classes. Newly constructed town homes were built in the style of the historic buildings and provide further affordable housing within the project. The affordable housing is offered at 40, 50, and 60% median income levels.

Upon the completion of construction in 2002, the Hastings community gathered in celebration, with over 500 guests attending the grand opening of the Guardian Angels project.

Within its first year alone, two residents of the women’s shelter and their families were able to successfully utilize all of the resources offered by Guardian Angels, completing vocation training through the family education center, finding employment, and later moving into 2 of the affordable rental units. Their quick transition into becoming stable members of the Guardian Angels community show the success of the strategies within the project.

In 2002, MHFA awarded Guardian Angels with the annual Partners in Affordable Housing Award for Excellence in Housing Design. Further acclaim followed on September 23, 2003, when the Guardian Angels project was presented a national award from the National Association for County Community and Economic Development (NACCED) for Excellence in Community Development.