Development Roundup

Posted on 09 September 2015 by Calvin


Dickerman Park development means parking changes for Griggs Midway
Development of Dickerman Park along University Ave. means the Griggs Midway Building Corporation must vacate space it has used for many years for parking. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, voted unanimously Aug. 12 to approve a forgivable loan of up to $200,000 to assist with a parking lot redevelopment project.

Funds will come from the Neighborhood Commercial Parking Pilot Program, which wasset up by the HRA in 2009 during Green Line light rail construction.

The Griggs Midway Building Corporation owns five buildings on the block at the northeast corner of Fairview and University. Two of the buildings front on Dickerman Park, which is being reclaimed by the Department of Parks and Recreation after decades of private use for parking. That eliminates about 57 parking spaces. Also, a parking lot was developed along Fairview that encroaches upon city right-of-way. Another 27 parking spaces will be lost as the city also wishes to reclaim that property.

Redesigning parking behind and beside the Griggs Midway complex will make up for most of the lost parking. Because it is within one-quarter mile of an LRT station, there are no parking requirements for Griggs Midway. No additional city or HRA approvals are required. No existing businesses will be displaced or relocated.

Groundbreaking for Prior Crossing planned Sept. 21
Construction starts this fall on a University Ave. site just east of Prior Ave. The groundbreaking event for Prior Crossing, as the housing is called, will take place Mon., Sept. 21, 5-6:30pm, at 1949 University Ave. State and local officials expected to attend include St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Rep. Alice Hausman, Ward Four Council Member Russ Stark, and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Commissioner Mary Tingerthal.

The building will house Ramsey County’s first supportive housing for youth and young adults who have experienced homelessness. It will be within blocks of the Green Line’s Fairview station, making housing conveniently accessible to both downtown areas and plenty of job and educational opportunities.

Capital funding for the 44-unit, $10.7 million project was finalized with $8 million in state tax credit funds awarded to Beacon in 2014 when the state legislature authorized $100 million for affordable housing bonds. Other public funders include the City of St. Paul ($1.1 million) and the Metropolitan Council ($927,000). St. Paul Public Housing Authority awarded the housing 32 Section 8 project-based vouchers that will keep rents affordable.

Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, working with The House of Hope Presbyterian Church and other local congregations and the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, made Prior Crossing a reality. The House of Hope congregation donated $500,000 in initial funding to leverage further private and public capital and operating funds. Wilder Foundation will provide on-site supportive services to the 44 young tenants who will live at Prior Crossing.
Raymond Ave. Flats project moves ahead with changes

The Raymond Ave. Flats project can proceed, but with changes meant to mitigate its impacts on the University-Raymond Commercial Heritage Preservation District. The St. Paul City Council unanimously upheld an appeal last month by Exeter Group and overturned project denial by the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC).
Planned is a five-story, 119-apartment addition to the General Motors Truck Company Building at 2390-2400 University Ave.

“This was a difficult one,” said Council President Russ Stark. The development is in his ward. Stark said he could support the project with changes in design that would balance the site’s traditional neighborhood zoning and its historic district issues. The design changes have already been submitted to city officials.

Stark also asked Exeter to work with the HPC staff on issues including placement of HVAC equipment, demolition of a chimney, and exterior materials for new construction.
Thomas Nelson, who is leading the project for Exeter, said the developers are satisfied with the outcome. “We’ve agreed to the changes and will continue to work with the city,” he said.

The historic district is centered on historic industrial and warehouse uses, the West Midway trucking industry and the Minnesota Transfer Railroad. The projects’ building is considered contributing to the historic district.

Stark said that the project changes should address concerns that HPC raised in its June vote to deny the project. He said that some HPC findings are speculative. One of the concerns the HPC raised was that extensive alterations to the building could potentially affect the historic status of the property and possibly, the entire historic district. But Stark questioned that, as did consultants hired by the developers.

The truck company building, which was built in 1928, is one story high. It is between two multi-story buildings. It is L-shaped and wraps around the former Twin Cities State Bank. It is west of another Exeter project, the seven-story C&E Lofts. Until recently the building housed an armored vehicle company.

Streetscape project gets support from city
Allocating $1 million from the city’s sales tax revenue Pay-Go Economic Development Fund will help cover costs of Snelling Ave. streetscape work, as well as planning for the former Ford Motor Company site redevelopment, commercial zoning vitality funding, the St. Paul Design Center budget, and other projects. But the Aug. 19 vote by the St. Paul City Council wasn’t unanimous as council members Dave Thune and Dai Thao voted against.

The program, which was set up last year by the City Council, is meant to provide flexible approach to commercial revitalization throughout the city by investing in neighborhood commercial corridor districts that have assets with potential, organizations with capacity, and community-developed plans. The intent is to leverage other investment. Most of the funding goes for plan implementation, with a smaller amount toward planning.

Thao objected to a $75,000 allocation to reduce street assessments and help pay for streetscape work along Snelling Ave. in Hamline-Midway. The street is being rebuilt this year to accommodate the A Line rapid bus improvements. He contended that other businesses have also had to pay high street assessments. But other council members noted that the city has reduced other assessments in commercial districts in the past, including along Green Line light-rail.

The allocations also included $200,000 for Ford planning, $50,000 toward the design center and its work implementing various community plans, and projects on Rice St., Payne Ave., Phalen Village, and E. 7th and Arcade streets.

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