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Development Roundup September 2019

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Two area district councils are asking for more affordable housing units in the development planned for Lexington and University.

STAR requests OK’d
On Aug. 21, the St. Paul City Council approved more than two dozen Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) requests, including Midway projects.
None of the area projects were affected by changes made by Mayor Melvin Carter. About $2.6 million in grants and loans won approval.
Co-Motion Center for Movement at 655 N. Fairview Ave. received a $40,000 loan and $40,000 grant, with a $180,000 match. The fund would be used for building improvements, by Element Boxing & Fitness.
New Vision’s new headquarters in St. Paul at 860 Vandalia St. was awarded a $105,424 grant will be matched with $105,424 to build out the facility, which also houses the Tech Dump electronics recycling program.
The Community Involvement Programs-ALLY People Solutions agency at 1515 Energy Park Drive was awarded a $100,000 loan and $50,000 grant, with a $150,000 match.
A new Playwrights’ Center at 711 Raymond Ave. obtained a $100,000 grant and $50,000 loan, with $7.625 million match to convert an old warehouse into a playwrights center.

Lexington-University project faces pushback
Two area district councils are asking that a planned mixed-use development near Lexington Parkway and University Ave.include more affordable units. Summit-University Planning Council and Frogtown Neighborhood Association are asking that the Alatus LLC project include more affordable units. Those two district councils are asking Union Park District Council (UPDC) to vote against the two current proposals for 411 Lexington Parkway. The requests were discussed by the UPDC land use committee Aug. 19. That committee took no action but took the request under advisement.
How much say UPDC can have isn’t clear. Alatus needs no zoning changes or variances, and isn’t seeking public subsidy.
Two redevelopment plans would each have a six-story mixed-use building with a grocery store and east-west bicycle-pedestrian connection through the structure. Both plans offer about 21,000 square feet of space for a grocery store. The number of apartments, ranging from efficiencies to four-bedroom units, would be about 226. There would be about 180 parking spaces, underground and on the main level. Both plans also call for the building to have two outdoor amenity decks. One plan calls for all market-rate apartments, as well as 5,000 square feet space for smaller community coworking or a business incubator space.  The second plan calls for what Alatus representatives describe as privately subsidized/affordable units, with six to 12 units allocated to people who meet income restrictions.
Frogtown and Summit-University district councils are asking for more affordable units, noting that development along the Green Line light rail has already forced renters out. That include Tia Williams, co-director of Frogtown Neighborhood Association. She and others said the need for more affordable housing has to be considered.
Ward One Council Member Dai Thao has also joined in the issue, asking that property owner Wilder Foundation only sell the development site for affordable housing.
Wilder officials have pushed back, saying they are selling property to cover the costs of their social services mission. The Lexington site has been for sale for several years and hasn’t found a buyer yet.