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Friday, March 28, 2014

Development Buzz from Councilmember Russ Stark

Urban Investment Group (UIG), based in Denver, has been selected as the development consultant on the old Snelling Bus Garage and Midway Shopping Center sites. A partnership of the City of Saint Paul, the Metropolitan Council, and RK Midway (owners of the Midway Shopping Center) selected UIG to develop a concept plan for the redevelopment of the 30+ acre area bounded by Snelling, University, Pascal, and St. Anthony. This does not mean that the Midway Shopping Center will be going anyway, but rather that the parties are working together to develop an overall scheme for the redevelopment of the sites, which would presumably happen in phases and over a number of years.

I have long believed that this "gateway" site for our community in this part of Saint Paul could be a key driver of bringing additional investment in the area in the form of additional housing, businesses and jobs. This new partnership between the Met Council, the city and RK Midway represents tremendous progress toward this goal. The Snelling Station Area Plan, adopted by the Saint Paul City Council a few years ago, is providing the basic framework for redevelopment of the sites. UIG is being tasked with determining the types and amounts of development that the market can bring to bear and testing the ideas in the Station Area Plan regarding the locations and amounts of needed new public infrastructure (streets, park, etc.) UIG's work will wrap up in April, at which time the concept plan will move to the St. Paul Planning Commission. At various points in this process, but particularly after this initial work is completed, there will be many ways for community members to provide input and feedback into the overall development plan. More on the timeline and process for this important site here, including opportunities to weigh in on Open Saint Paul in April/May.   

Historic image of the American Can / Silgan building at 777 Prior Ave. (courtesy of

Orton Development, based in the San Francisco Bay, recently purchased the old American Can/Silgan manufacturing site on North Prior at Minnehaha, and the old Fischer Nut building on Wycliff Avenue in the West Midway industrial area. Totaling 750,000 square feet of space, these two buildings have been sitting vacant (Silgan) and largely vacant (Fischer Nut) for many years, and the purchases by Orton suggest growing interest in investment in the area. Orton is still developing its plans for these buildings, and I will share information as I learn it.

Demolition is underway on the first phase of the Vintage on Selby Development at Snelling and Selby. Phase one involves demolition of several older buildings at Snelling and Dayton and the construction of a new Associated Bank branch at that corner. Phase two will then involve demolition of the old Associated Bank building, and construction of the new Whole Foods store and 208 luxury apartments, slated to open in the fall of 2015.

Project for Pride in Living (PPL) will finally break ground this spring on the new Hamline Station development at Hamline and University Avenues. The project, which will include two buildings separated by a public plaza in the middle of the block will include 108 apartments at varying prices, and some first floor retail/commercial space in the building right at Hamline/University.

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