Dayton’s Bluff homes get a second chance

The homes on the tour are located in the Dayton’s Bluff Historic District. (courtesy of St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority)

737 Plum St., built in 1882, is 2,192 square feet with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

216-218 Bates Ave., is known as the Schornstein Garage. 

208-210 Bates Ave., built in 1885, is a two-story commercial building known as the Schacht Building.

275 Bates Ave., built in 1884, is 1,640 square feet with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. 

700 E. Fourth St., built in 1879, is a two-story Queen Anne style home.  

767 E. Fourth St., built in 1890, is 2,136-square-foot home with five bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The Dayton’s Bluff Community Council and the city of St. Paul are hosting a tour of vacant homes in the Dayton’s Bluff Historic District.

The tour will be Sunday, April 17, from 1 to 5 p.m, but this won’t be the typical showcase of beautifully restored and decorated houses with manicured lawns.

Instead, it will be a tour of dwellings for sale that need of a lot TLC and elbow grease. 

Those interested in the tour can meet at the East Side Enterprise Center, 804 Margaret St. A 1954 Twin Cities bus will take the public to the homes on the tour. Participants are also welcome to visit the homes on their own during the tour.

The St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority has recently put up Requests for Proposals for six properties in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. They are located at: 700 E. Fourth St.; 767 E. Fourth St.; 737 Plum St.; 275 Bates Ave.; 208-210 Bates Ave. (multi-family property), and 216-218 Bates Ave. (commercial property).

Tour-goers will be able to enter four of the six buildings, with 208-210 Bates and 216-218 Bates remaining closed due to safety issues. 

Volunteers and city staff will be available to answer questions about the buildings and explain the process of submitting a proposal.

These six Dayton’s Bluff properties are seeking proposals to purchase and renovate the buildings through the HRA’s “Inspiring Communities” program. 

The HRA board approved the housing redevelopment strategy in October 2013. 

According to the St. Paul city website, Inspiring Communities “provides focused investment in cluster areas in neighborhoods most impacted by foreclosure and vacancy.” 

Sarah Zorn, principle project manager, explained how the Inspiring Communities program works.

“Through the Request For Proposals process, the HRA will provide the difference between the total project cost and the sale price to the end buyer. This amount cannot exceed $150,000 (per unit) without a waiver from the HRA Board.”

Zorn added that buyers would include the requested subsidy in their RFP application, which is used by the HRA board to determine which proposals to move forward with.

The application is found at and developers must meet certain criteria, such as credit worthiness, experience and capableness.

Zorn added that since the creation of the Inspiring Communities program in 2013, 16 properties in the Dayton’s Bluff Historic District and 160 properties throughout St. Paul have been reconstructed or newly constructed.

For people interested in submitting proposals for the properties, the deadline is May 11 for 700 E. Fourth St., 767 E. Fourth St., 737 Plum St. and 275 Bates Ave.

The deadline for submitting proposals for the properties at 208-210 Bates Ave. and 216-218 Bates Ave. is June 8. 


Giving derelict buildings a second chance

Karin DuPaul, who is organizing the tour, said these buildings are “part of the fabric of the neighborhood” and that saving older homes helps add value and history to the neighborhood. 

She said, “It isn’t good for the neighborhood to have vacant homes. ... It gives these properties another chance, rather than [demolish] them.”

DuPaul said this will be the first tour since 2013. She said the tours began in 2008, following the collapse of the housing industry during the Great Recession. She said the number of foreclosed and vacant homes has been gradually decreasing, hence there has not been a tour for three years. 

She said the program has been successful over the years, and only a few homes on past tours have ended up being razed. 

However, she said the tours aren’t the only reason for this success. “We have lots and lots of people that love our neighborhood.

“It’s one way of helping make the neighborhood better again.”


Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.


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