Development around Allianz Field is anticipated to be scaled back from what was originally planned, according to an alternative urban areawide review or AUAR update completed late last year. Neighbors could also see a plan come forward for a large dynamic display screen at the property.
Notice of the AUAR was published Dec. 20 in the EQB Monitor. A comment period ended Jan. 5. If Metropolitan Council and state agencies don’t object, city officials can approve the AUAR and use it for another five years.
What is an AUAR?
An AUAR process is a hybrid of the environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) and environmental impact statement (EIS) review processes. The process is overseen by the state’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB).
A responsible governmental unit – in this case the City of St. Paul – uses an AUAR as a planning tool, to understand how various develop scenarios will affect the community when a larger project is proposed or is in process.
The Snelling-Midway project was one of the first for St. Paul to use an AUAR process. Other projects since then that have used AUAR processes include the redevelopment of the former Ford Motor Company plant into Highland Bridge and the Hillcrest Golf Course redevelopment on the city’s East Side.
The first AUAR for a project is a pre-development document, examining how different development plans could affect the surrounding community environment before any development occurs. An AUAR update is then done every five years until a large project is completed. The document released in December is Snelling-University’s second AUAR.
The AUAR looks at an array of potential environmental impacts – including on traffic, wildlife, water resources, historic resources and air, light and noise pollution.
The process is designed to look at the cumulative impacts of anticipated development scenarios within a given geographic area. The AUAR document uses a list of questions adapted from the EAW form, but provides a level of analysis of typical urban area impacts comparable to an EIS. Environmental analysis information from an AUAR can be used to inform local planning and zoning decisions.
The current study
The first Minnesota United Stadium and Mixed-Use Urban Village Alternative Urban AUAR was approved in 2016.
The study area is 34.43 acres, located just north of Interstate 94, bounded by St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues, and Pascal Street. Staff from city departments worked with consultants from Stantec and SRF to update the AUAR.
The study outlines what has been completed to date, and what work is remaining. At Snelling-Midway, the 20,000-seat Allianz Field has been built and is operating. Streets, parking and public areas were completed.
But the anticipated mixed-use development, to be led by Snelling Midway Redevelopment LLC, hasn’t happened yet. The latest plans approved by the city date from May 2016. While city staff did see a vision for a new development scenario in July 2020, no new plans have been submitted to the city. That means the 2016 plans are still technically in effect. The AUAR includes both the 2016 plans and the 2020 proposal.
“Should (Snelling Midway Redevelopment LLC) submit redevelopment applications under a new development scenario, the (city) will evaluate whether the applications are consistent with the 2016 Snelling Midway Redevelopment Site Master Plan or will require amendments to the 2016 Master Plan,” the AUAR stated. Staff did determine that the new development proposal would be consistent with the plans submitted as part of the 2016 study. It also put residential development on the Pascal-St. Anthony parking area.
One idea that would have to require a city zoning change is the idea of putting a large dynamic display screen at the site. The screen “would feature various types of programming for display including community night-out movies, showing live performances at community festivals, public service announcements and advertisements, visual art, and live broadcasts of home and away soccer games.” It’s not a permitted use.
Here’s what else could change. The 2016 plan called for 620 multi-family dwelling units. The 2020 anticipated scenario is for 948 units. A 400-unit hotel was envisioned in 2016; 100 rooms were cited in 2020.
The commercial building area envisioned in 2016 was for 1,000,000 square feet of office area and 421,100 square feet of retail, including an 800-seat cinema, a 50,000-square-foot fitness club and 39,000 square feet of bowling alley space. The 2020 scenario includes 802,680 square feet of office space and 241,4254 square feet on general retail.
The 2016 plans call for the park area extending from the stadium to extend all the way to University. The 2020 plan has commercial development on that block.
The 20,000-seat soccer stadium was completed. The AUAR notes it has the capacity to expand to 25,500 seats.
New structure heights would be 35 to 230 feet under the 2020 scenario, as compared to 70 to 290 feet in the original plans. Parking space numbers decrease from 4,720 in the 2016 plan to 3,204 in the 2020 scenario.
One area studied is transportation. The newest study indicates that the 2020 redevelopment scenario would generate fewer motor vehicle trips than anticipated in the 2016 plans. But there is also a caveat.
“Due to a combination of the COVID-19 related travel pattern impacts and lack of any development during the previous five-year period, new traffic data and intersection analysis were not completed as part of this AUAR update. Therefore, this AUAR update is intended to provide an overview of current development assumptions as compared with the previous development assumptions,” the AUAR stated. The traffic studied is daily traffic and not event traffic. Traffic studies will be updated as development occurs.
It also notes that an event transportation management plan for events at the stadium was developed and implemented as part of the 2016 study.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here