Amherst H. Wilder Foundation is proposing to relocate their corporate offices
and consolidate dispersed programming locations at the Lexington/University site.
A four-story office building is proposed just south of the Aldis store parking
lot, as well as a 4.5 story parking ramp and some semi-private greenspace.
Wellington Management owns the old 6.5-acre shopping center on the
southwest corner (behind the White Castle), and is in the process of purchasing
an additional 2 acres to the south. Wellington's original proposal for the site
was a traditional strip mall with commercial pad sites fronting both Lexington
and University. Now, Wellington is planning a staged development, which has already
begun with the sale of a 1.2 acre portion of the site fronting University Avenue
to Aldi's grocery store chain. A later stage of development on the interior of
the lot (south of the Aldi's) is planned to be higher-density and more transit-oriented.
TCF Bank Branch
|Final Approved Elevation|
coalition of community-based organizations now includes about 20 organizations
that are all working to ensure that the development of Lexington/University benefits
area residents and is consistent with community needs and plans. The Coalition
recently developed a document that summarizes many of the substantive issues that
the various groups are concerned about with regard to the Wellington development
and development along University Avenue in general.
THE BAR: COMMUNITY EXPECTATION FOR DEVELOPMENT ON UNIVERSITY AVENUE
|March 24, 2004||Memorandum
of Understanding between Wellington and the City|
28, 2004||Application for splitting lot into
|June 23, 2004||Creation
of TIF District|
|June 28, 2004||Lot
|June 30?, 2004||Aldi's
site plan submitted|
|July 27, 2004||Lex-Ham
and University UNITED Appeal of Lot Split|
5, 2004 ||Aldi's Site Plan Approved by Zoning
|August 13, 2004||Full
Planning Commission Acts on Aldi's Site Plan|
19, 2004||Public Hearing on Appeal of Lot
|August 23, 2004||Last
day to appeal Aldi's Site Plan|
30, 2004||1st Meeting of Design Advisory Group|
|October 4, 2004||Community
Meeting at Dunning Rec Center|
6, 2004||City Council rejects the Lex-Ham/UNITED
|October 11, 2004||Demolition
of the old shopping center began|
1, 2004||2nd Meeting of Design Advisory Group|
has been vacant for some time, and blighted for many years. Three years ago Home
Depot had a purchase agreement for the site but eventually backed out when public
subsidy for the project began to appear unlikely. At that time, University UNITED
and some community partners developed an alternative vision for the site of a
mixed-used, transit-oriented development that would include a a substantial number
of new housing units.
The corner of University Avenue and Lexington Parkway is a key intersection
of the premiere transit corridor in the region and a beautiful residential parkway.
What happens on this site impacts a wide array of important issues, including
affordable housing, transit, environment, jobs, and the role and rights of the
community in the development process. It will also profoundly shape future development
patterns along the corridor.
In 2001, UNITED staff compiled a report detailing
the existing education, cultural, and healthcare related organizations and entities
that are clustered around this critical intersection. Click
here to view this report.
In 2002, UNITED worked closely with the St.
Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) and others to coordinate
a Transit-Oriented Development Planning Study for the intersections of Lexington/University
and Snelling/University. Approximately 200 community stakeholders participated
in this planning process that resulted in a TOD Framework plan. This TOD Framework
was adopted by the City Council as an amendment to the City's Comprehensive Plan
in February, 2004 (click
here to link to the TOD Framework summary).
Concurrent to the TOD planning
process, University UNITED independently developed a vision for re-making the
Midway shopping centers from Snelling Avenue to Syndicate. Click
here to view this graphic vision and narrative report. Connecting the vision
of a new Midway shopping area and the proposed Lexington Park, UNITED envisioned
a large scale reworking of the area bounded by Snelling Avenue, University Avenue,
Lexington Parkway, and Interstate 94. This .25 square mile area could potentially
include more than 1,000 new housing units, connecting to a newly remade regional
shopping/entertainment area by attractive walking and biking paths.
While all of the relevant community plans
clearly call for mixed-used, transit-oriented development on the site, the zoning
for this land was never changed to reflect this community planning. This discrepancy
between planning and zoning should not stand, as both state law and the City of
St. Paul zoning code state clearly that zoning and Comprehensive Plans must be
Memorandum of Understanding:
to purchasing the site, Wellington signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
with the City Council/ HRA, spelling out a proposal for an auto-oriented retail
project. (March 24, 2004). He subsequently modified his proposal to add mixed-use
housing/commercial at the rear of the lot, to be developed after the perimeter
lots were sold off. The MOU envisioned the need for Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
In March of 2004 University UNITED's board passed a resolution
opposing this original proposal (click
here to view), and another resolution regarding a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) (click here to view the
MOU) between the City of St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA)
and Wellington Management (click
here to view the resolution).
On June 23, 2004, the City Council, acting
as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) established a TIF district for
the site making it eligible for public financing. This document references the
possibility of residential development, including 110 units of rental housing
and 72 units of ownership housing. The establishment of the District does not
mean funds are assigned to the project, but rather creates eligibility.
A community forum about the project was held
on July 28th and more than 105 people attended. Wellington Management presented
their plans, and a community vision and statement of principles ratified by numerous
community groups was presented to Wellington. UNITED is a signatory to the Community
Statement and is opposed to the Aldi's project because it does not meet TOD guidelines
for job or housing density, and is therefore not consistent with the City's Comprehensive
Plan. Wellington presented a set of three possible scenarios to the community:
Lot Split and Aldi's:
has gotten approval to split the site into three separate lots, and has sold a
1.2 acre lot on University Avenue to the Alid's grocery store chain. Aldi's, a
private-label budget grocery, is under construction and will create about 10 jobs.
Lexington Hamline Community Council and University UNITED appealed decisions by
the City to approve both the lot split and the Aldi's site plan, arguing that
both actions were inconsistent with the University Avenue Transit-Oriented Development
Framework which is part of the City's Comprehensive Plan. The two organizations'
and our coalition partners also made the case that the overall redevelopment should
not be considered or approved piecemeal, but rather as one comprehensive plan.
of the 11-2-04 Meeting of the DAG
City Councilmember Debbie Montgomery
and the department of Planning and Economic Development have created a Design
Advisory Group for the Wellington development. This group had its first meeting
on August 30, and will continue to meet with Wellington until plans for the remainder
of the site are finalized. The precise role of the Group has not been clearly
defined, but presumably it is meant to provide feedback on the design of the project.
of the Site:
To date, Wellington Management has presented
a series of different scenarios for what they might develop on the remainder of
the site. The most recent scenario, which would be very high density, would include
a new Midway YMCA, new headquarters for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, housing,
and retail. Wellington will present the latest plans to the Design Advisory Group
created by the the City on November 1.
Other Development Sites at the Intersection
the street to the north, Hoa Bien restaurant is hoping to partner with JB Realty
on a rebuilding and expansion of the restaurant that would include banquet space.
UNITED is engaged in conversations with the developer about intensifying the redevelopment
proposal to use the land more efficiently and add to transformation of this key
node on the University Avenue Corridor.
Recently, however, word has gotten around that both Walgreen's and
TCF bank are interested in the site. Big commercials users such as these two are
usually willing to pay top dollar for the sites that they want.
the east, the Lexington Branch Library is slated to vacate an old theater building
and move down to Dale and Univeristy in 2005, and Frank's Nursery is going out
of business and the site is on the market.
The site was formerly home to Lexington Park,
where the St. Paul Saints played for half a century.
|Courtesy of MN Historical Society|
The site also abuts some underutilized properties on "superblocks"
between University Avenue and Interstate-94, including car dealership inventory
lots, and a vacant property owned by the St. Paul School District. These "superblocks"
historically housed large corporate headquarters such as Brown and Bigelow and
Montgomery Wards. These adjacent blocks may present opportunities for further
redevelopment in the coming years.
|Courtesy of MN Historical Society|