The A-Mill Lofts are becoming the poster child for how easy it is to twist public subsidies for "affordable artist housing" into a commercial gold mine for developers.
When Plymouth developer Dominium rehabbed the old mill near St. Anthony Falls, taxpayers picked up most of tab through an assortment of grants and tax credits.
The result was a 251-apartment complex that cost $400,000 more per unit than the average affordable housing project, according to a University of Minnesota study. It's now valued at $42 million. And in 13 years, Dominium can jack rents to its heart's content.
A-Mill's purpose is to provide cheap living for the artistic community. But this too comes with a very loose definition.
Meet Taylor Huggett, an analyst for Dominium, one of the nation's largest affordable housing developers.
When his work day is done, the son of Dominium Vice President Jeffrey Huggett retires to his top-floor apartment at A-Mill, where rent starts at $900-a-month. "At least one member of the household" must "be approved as an artist in order to qualify."
One doesn't have to make a living through artistic creation, according to Dominium, "but must be able to demonstrate a commitment to it."
If the junior Huggett falls under that broad definition, he must be doing it on the sly. His background shows Theta Chi fraternity membership at Arizona State University, where he received a bachelor's in communications in 2012. He's also an Edina High grad.
But his artistic endeavors, at least publicly, amount to a Facebook video that stars people partying and singing a once-popular ditty by Blink 182.
Taylor Huggett didn't respond to repeated messages seeking comment. However, Dominium spokesperson Darin Broton says Huggett met the income qualification, which means he makes no more than $36,420.
As for the Huggett junior's artistic passion, "My understanding is that he's a vocalist, a singer," says Broton.