St. Paul, Minnesota
Union Flats is a four-story building that features 217 affordable apartment homes. Conveniently located near parks and restaurants, Union Flats is steps away from the Raymond Avenue light-rail station near Saint Paul’s Midway neighborhood. This workforce/family-focused building complements a developing neighborhood while creating more affordable units in a main housing hub. The surface parking along the west side of the building runs parallel to an existing railroad spur and is a subtle historic preservation gesture. Most of the resident parking is in a garage below the entire footprint of the building. The garage is also raised to strategically stabilize existing soil conditions. This lift provides a sense of prominence and while keeping much of the parking garage above grade. The primary cladding materials are brick, formed metal panels, fiber-cement siding and panels. In addition, a substantial amount of glass generously exceeds the minimum required glazing.
The building’s striking appearance exists on the edge of a neighborhood area that has undergone an exciting transformation and borders an industrial area. To the west of this building, modern urban design has taken hold. The previous era’s heavy industrial shells of concrete and masonry now sparkle with new life through adaptive reuse. Union Flats comfortably inhabits this neighborhood edge condition.
Union Flats’ most prominent corner greets visitors approaching from University Avenue. At first glance, to a visitor, the exterior form and materials could be described as aggressive and kinetic. This form allows the building to stand up to the industrial hulks to the east. But the building also includes inviting, welcoming touches. A closer approach reveals a welcoming entry sequence with a number of urban amenities. A shady terrace with a variety of spaces keeps residents cool in the summer. A resident bike shop keeps their bikes up-and-running. A cascading stair leads to the main entry. A beautiful architectural entry plaza leads to the massive courtyard for residents to use.
Interiors and Amenities
The entry plaza and the exciting forms that define it serves as a threshold between the activity and noise of the city and the serene courtyard beyond. Upon entering the building, the dynamic and vibrant interior design includes many amenities. An expansive lobby with bold art sets the tone for from front door to the courtyard. The lobby opens onto the club room with a spacious kitchenette, built-in banquets and central fireplace dividing the room for multiple groups to gather and work.
An expansive fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment and adjacent yoga room for residents provides a few of the wellness-focused amenities. A large bike lounge features fix-it stations and worktables. It also includes bike storage with direct street access for residents to enter local bike trails and paths. Units provide an open concept kitchen/living/dining room with luxury vinyl tile flooring, carpeted bedrooms with walk-in closets, balconies and large master bathrooms. The overall concept is to create an experience that emphasizes the merging of quality and affordability for residents and visitors alike.