Snelling/University 'urban village' plans take shape - but there's a price
Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN), 2014-07-14
July 14 --In St. Paul's Midway area, a future "urban village" near the Green Line is taking shape on paper.
Consultants have completed a 44-page report examining development opportunities for the Midway Center shopping plaza and the site of the old Metro Transit bus barn on the southeast corner of Snelling and University avenues.
The 34.5-acre "super block" is looked to by the city of St. Paul and the Metropolitan Council as a future model for "transit-oriented development" near the new light-rail corridor.
The verdict? Those plans may be doable, but they won't be cheap.
The report by Urban Investment Group , RNL and KHO Consulting examined potential development arrangements for the Snelling-Midway "SmartSite."
The consultants found a $22 million to $31 million gap between today's market value of the site and the cost of necessary new infrastructure, including $40 million in needed structured parking, as the land is redeveloped in phases.
The report encourages a mix of building types and uses, most of them at least four stories tall, with open spaces and pedestrian amenities to create the feel of an urban village.
It suggests a variety of approaches to close the funding gap, including tax-increment financing and grants and loans.
The consultants completed their report after meeting with a working group composed of representatives from the Met Council , Metro Transit, the city of St. Paul , the St. Paul Riverfront Corp. and shopping plaza owner RK Midway LLC , which owns 20 acres consisting of Midway Center.
The report encourages a public-private partnership that respects the shopping center's current revenue sources but rebrands the area. RK Midway would have the exclusive right to purchase the Met Council's 10-acre bus barn site.
The city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority has an option on an additional 5 acres just east of the bus barn parcel, land that is also owned by RK Midway.
A master developer would be chosen for the site, and new public amenities would roll out gradually and be tied to completion of private, revenue-generating structures such as retail, according to the report.
City, Met Council and RK Midway staff are still reviewing the consultant's findings, according to a statement from the city's Planning and Economic Development staff.
The report is available at stpaul.gov/snelling redevelopment.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at twitter.com/FrederickMelo .
(c)2014 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
Visit the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) at www.twincities.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services