St. Paul Notes: Once in a lifetime

UAW mural https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathancharles/6077695964/in/photolist-dyzA4D-RBhLd-hPqnv-qnpki-ag4Mgs-5N9C7u  by Jonathan Haynes https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathancharles/

UAW mural at Ford Plant by Jonathan Haynes, used under Creative Commons license

The Ford plant’s departure leaves St. Paul with 125 acres of prime land on the Mississippi River. That’s an opportunity to build what St. Paul is calling a 21st Century Community, a “livable, mixed use neighborhood that looks to the future with clean technologies and high quality design for energy, buildings and infrastructure.” In an online forum, the city is asking for feedback as planning proceeds. The questions posed:

  • What makes a great urban neighborhood?
  • Are there neighborhoods that we should look to as inspiration for redevelopment of the Ford site?
  • If so, what are they, where, and what makes them great?

The first week brought only five public comments, with nothing added since January 3. So far, commenters are asking for:

  • a mix of housing, transportation and shopping with a strong sense of neighborhood
  • “varied and affordable housing” and “a heterogeneous neighborhood” and both multi-family and single-family homes
  • bike lanes, wide sidewalks, good public transportation
  • green space with “native plants and ground cover that support pollinators, not water thirsty and chemical dependent turfgrass,” walking paths
  • pervious pavement, rain gardens, water reclamation, green roofs, LEED certified buildings, passive house technology

St. Paul has a rare opportunity to create a new community, rather than retrofitting and remodeling old streets, business districts and housing. According to the timeline, 2015 is the year to continue environmental remediation, demolish buildings, and find a master developer and buyer for the site. That’s up to Ford — the owner of the property.

How much weight will public comment and input have in any decision-making? Hard to say, but the city has influence through zoning and financing.

If you want a voice, you can add your comment, or endorse the comments already posted on the forum by clicking here.

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