{ Development Roundup } June 2020



How will fires affect Midway Center ‘superblock’?

Development at the Midway Center “superblock” is moving toward a fall groundbreaking for new construction on the western part of the site. But how a devastating fire in the remaining part of Midway Center will affect redevelopment remains unclear.

Much of the remaining shopping center building along Pascal Street was extensively damaged by fire overnight May 28-29, as was Big Top Liquor. Big Top had relocated to the former Midway Perkins building along University Avenue. As of Monitor deadline plans for the shopping center hadn’t been announced. The western section was slated to eventually come down, but it was almost largely occupied.

Union Park District Council (UPDC) heard a development update at its May meeting from Bill McGuire, lead owner of the Minnesota United FC soccer team and lead partner in site redevelopment with RK Midway.

The developers are working with the St. Paul Port Authority to obtain $2 million in site cleanup grants from the state, Ramsey County and Metropolitan Council. The applications were submitted May 1. It’s anticipated that much pollution is from an old streetcar garage and Metro Transit bus barn and repair facility at the site.

The United Villages at Midway development’s towers would include 234 dwelling units over a 148,470-square-foot parking podium, with 15,780-square-feet of retail and coworking office spaces above the parking and below the towers. The parking is to be in one level underground. McGuire said that while changes are considered for tower placement, the design is largely as shown in April. Construction drawings are still in the works. Stadium designer Populous is project architect. The goal is to open the building in spring 2022.

The towers would be nine to 18 stories tall and would be adjacent to an “activated alley” of retail and live-work spaces, with a smaller 3 to 3.5-story structure with retail and small business/nonprofit incubator space. That building footprint is about 20,000 square feet. McGuire said one focus would be local food businesses.

One point McGuire made is that without parking spaces, investors will not consider the project. Parking and ways to promote more mass transit use were brought up district council members.

Other parts of the development are moving ahead, although a proposed movie theater may have to shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic-induced crisis movie theaters everywhere face, said McGuire. It’s more likely a proposed hotel will eventually built as part of the development. That also may face delays.

17-story apartments,

YWCA replacement

Area projects, including housing at Fairview and University avenues and a replacement for the YWCA of St. Paul, are among four city submissions vying for development funds. The St. Paul City Council voted May 6 to seek Metropolitan Council and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grants for the projects. Cities must apply for the funds with developers.

Two projects, including apartments planned for 1845 University Ave., are in line for Metropolitan Council Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA) dollars. Two 17-story apartment buildings are proposed by Minneapolis-based Reuter Walton Development. The buildings would go up on property owned by Goodwill/Easter Seals of Minnesota. The project began community review in late 2019. Apartments planned are affordable housing, in a mix of unit sizes.

Reuther Walton is seeking $111,814 in TBRA funds and $654,080 from DEED. Both funding sources would assist with site cleanup. Part of the property was once a gas station.

Another request is from Keystone Community Services, which has locations in Merriam Park, the North End and West End. Keystone is also seeking pre-development funding of $100,000 from Metropolitan Council, for a site to be determined.

The YWCA request would replace the YWCA that has stood at Selby and Western avenues for many years, possibly with a mixed-use development. Awards are to be announced in the weeks ahead.


development wins approval

Development of the former US Bank property at University and Raymond avenues is moving ahead. The St. Paul Planning Commission May 29 approved a needed variance and conditional use permit for 2383 University Ave.

The development company Kraus Anderson obtained approvals for the project. The project is already zoned for traditional neighborhoods 3 use so no zoning change is needed. The approvals are final unless an appeal is filed with the St. Paul City Council within 10 days.

The developers will tear down the longtime Midway Bank and its drive-through lanes. Parking lots are also part of the development sire. The lots and bank will be replaced by a six-story building. The building will have 222 dwelling units, 2,200 square feet of first-floor commercial space and amenity spaces for tenants. Three of the first-floor dwelling spaces will be live/work units.

The building will have frontage along University, Raymond and Charles avenues. It will be V-shaped with a courtyard. Its design plans got a nod of approval May 18 from the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission. The site is in the Raymond-University Commercial Historic District.

The conditional use permit is needed for a 66’ 7” building height, with 73’ 4” for the elevator penthouse. Floor area ratio or FAR variance is needed as well. The 3.0 FAR maximum is slightly exceeded as a 3.6 FAR is proposed.

St. Anthony Park Community Council recommended approval, with conditions. Conditions sought include asking that the commercial space become community incubator space if it is not leased, that there be a publicly accessible pedestrian path on the east side of the building where there is currently an alley, and that the building meet sustainability conditions outlined in city plans.

No one has come out in opposition to the project.

Bandana Square project moves ahead

One hundred and fifty-three housing units will be built atop a parking ramp near Bandana Square, as a result of St. Paul Planning commission approvals May 1.

TJL Development’s affiliate Pacific Ramp LLC is leading the project, which requires a zoning change and a front yard setback variance. The commission approved the requests, and sent the rezoning request for final approval from the St. Paul City Council. The rezoning will be the focus of a public hearing later in June. for rezoning and the front yard setback variance.

The property is currently occupied by a parking ramp that serves adjacent commercial uses including a hotel. The applicant wants to rezone the property from B3 general business to traditional neighborhoods 3 use, to allow proposed construction of 153 residential units on top of the existing ramp. A portion of the ramp will be leased to the adjacent hotel for guest and employee parking.

The Bandana Square area was historically a rail yard, with its building converted to office, retail and commercial uses. The current uses include a hotel, event center, and office space. Multi-family housing was developed to the west.

City staff recommended approval of the zoning change and variance as did Como Community Council. No one has expressed opposition to the project.


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