F&C Top Projects: Twelve22 Apartments

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024

Twelve22 Apartments in St. Paul was selected as one of Finance & Commerce’s Top Projects of 2023, recognizing Minnesota’s top design and construction projects for the year.

An independent panel of judges selected 54 honorees for the annual program. Projects are judged on their degree of difficulty, creativity in design, innovative construction techniques, cooperation among contractors and management, and sustainability efforts. Judges noted the construction industry continued to experience challenges in 2023, from persistent inflation to higher interest rates and labor shortages, requiring flexibility to get projects successfully completed.

Twelve22 Apartments
1222 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN 55104

The St. Paul Casket Company located at 1222 University Ave in St. Paul, was the most significant casket manufacturer in Minnesota for three decades. The 4-story vacant building was purchased in 2019 by local developer JB Vang Partners with the goal of renovating the property into an affordable housing development. Designed by architect Allen H. Stem and completed in 1923, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2021. The team preserved its historic integrity while remediating contamination to create a new 55-unit affordable housing development utilizing Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Historic Tax Credits (HTC).

The renovation and adaptive reuse of 1222 University is a successful example of giving new life to existing building stock. The building was an ideal candidate for historic preservation and redevelopment not only for its prime location at the intersection of University and Griggs along the Green Line, but also because its reinforced concrete structure provides a solid basis for rehabilitation, with little major restoration required to its foundational components.

The team worked closely and creatively to incorporate the National Park Service (NPS) and State Historic Preservation Office’s (SHPO) requirements while still meeting the many Minnesota State Building Code requirements to create a residential housing project.

The team took on the challenge of converting and dividing the existing open manufacturing floors into unique one and two-bedroom apartments. The original factory-installed windows were restored, or matching replacements installed, inviting ample daylight into apartments. Early on, the decision was made to refinish the exterior back to its original style as much as possible to pay homage to its 1920s appearance, by painting it white and painting the window and door details black.

With their historical consultant, the team selected original components of the building to salvage and incorporate, including the grand stair, spiral staircase to roof, clock tower, former vault doors, freight elevator wood doors, and in-unit window wall and garage door style window walls. The team gracefully modified the historic iron grand stair railing to meet today’s fall protection standards while keeping the historic appearance of the stair design. To preserve its character, missing medallion ornamental wall elements were replicated.

Twelve22 was the first project to receive aid from a St. Paul fund designed to help build deeply affordable housing, as defined under federal housing standards at 30% or less of area median income. This apartment is all affordable, but at different levels, helping achieve the city’s goals of building more deeply affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods. Adding 55 units of affordable housing in a growing area of St. Paul, and along a transit corridor is transformational for the community. Re-inhabiting this vacant building and highlighting its historical significance and character helps contribute to bringing positive change to this neighborhood


  • Owner & Developer: JB Vang
  • General Contractor: Frerichs Construction
  • Architect & Interior Designer: Pope Design Group
  • Structural Engineer: Nelson-Rudie & Associates, Inc.
  • Mechanical Engineer: Emanuelson-Podas, Inc.
  • Civil Engineer: Larson Engineering
  • Historical Consultant: Landscape Research LLC
  • Environmental: GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. 
  • Affordable Housing Consultant: The Landon Group 
  • Legal Counsel: Hust Law 
  • Accountant: Mahoney 
  • Tax Credit Syndicator: Grow America 
  • Lender: R4 Capital and Allianz Life 
  • State Historic Bridge Loan: Rethos 
  • Financing Partner: Met Council TBRA 
  • Financing Partner: City of Saint Paul 

See the rest of this year’s honorees on the Finance & Commerce’s announcement.

This year’s Top Project will be featured in a special magazine and in a series of stories and photos in the Finance & Commerce daily newspaper and on the F&C website starting in July 2024.

See more images of Twelve22 Apartments on our project page.