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Development Roundup: Mixed-use, multi-family projects are moving ahead

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By JANE MCCLURE

MISCO awarded city funding
A long-vacant University Avenue lot could be redeveloped in the future, if funding is obtained from Metropolitan Council.
In May the St. Paul City Council approved a Metropolitan Council funding application for 1433 University Ave. It is one of two city sites in contention for Metropolitan Council Tax Base Revitalization Seeding Equitable Environmental Development Grants. The other application was for a site on the city’s east Side.
Results of the application will be known later this year. The St. Paul applications will vie with requests from around the region, and go through a ranking and review process. Cities make the applications on behalf of developers and property owners.
If the grant is obtained, the current or future lot owner could use the funds to determine the extent of any pollution cleanup needed there. The public funding can be used to determine the scope and severity of contamination and development a cleanup plan and/or to assist with the cost of implementing a completed cleanup plan.
For several years Metropolitan Council has provided a wide range of grants to help redevelop urban and suburban sites. Several University area projects have received the funding, with some under the Livable Communities grants program. Other funded projects focus specifically on transit-oriented development.
Part of Livable Communities, Tax Base Revitalization Account or TBRA funding helps areas that have lost commercial/industrial activity ready and available for economic redevelopment. The grants provide funds for environmental site investigation and cleanup for redevelopments that enhance the city tax base, promote job retention or job growth and/or create or preserve affordable housing. Seeding Equitable Environmental Development or SEED grants are intended for applicants with sites within or directly adjacent to an area of concentrated poverty that show potential for future job growth or housing development but do not have a specific redevelopment project yet. The sites are or are perceived to be contaminated, according to the council. 1433 University is one of those sites.
The site at 1433 University was occupied for decades by various manufacturers and retailers, housed in a two-story brick and block building. For much of its history it housed auto-related businesses. The building was damaged by fire years ago and was torn down.
How it should be redeveloped has been a question for some time. In 2010 its site was used by photographer Wing Yung Huie to display his photos, as part of the University Avenue Project. The public art project featured hundreds of photos projected onto the adjacent building at night.
The site has been a parking lot in recent years. It has drawn neighborhood complaints from time to time for tall grass and weeds, and for the condition of a wrought iron fence that has repeatedly been damaged.

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