Three developers vie for role in transforming part of St. Paul riverfront

September 18, 2018

The St. Paul riverfront could be dramatically altered by an array of skyscrapers and even possibly a waterfall, according to projects proposed by several developers.

Ramsey County staff are in discussions with three development teams about how to transform the neglected bluffs alongside the Wabasha Street bridge in downtown St. Paul that used to be the site of the West Publishing Co. buildings and the Ramsey County jail.

Sherman Associates along with Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate have proposed a $120-150 million project which would be made up of three buildings on top of three-to-four stories of underground parking, said George Sherman, head of Sherman Associates. Shermans project would consist of a 150-room hotel that would face the riverfront, 150 apartments that could be converted into condos, as well as 300,000 to 400,000 square feet of offices, which would be managed by Frauenshuh.

The office tower would be about eight stories and the residential tower would be 12 to 14, Sherman said. Major components of the project would be a pedestrian walkway over Kellogg Boulevard and the railroad tracks close to Shepard Road with retail and restaurant space planned near the riverfront as well as near the Wabasha Bridge.

I think the riverfront in St. Paul is one that has so much vibrancy, Sherman said. This will really be connected to the riverfront in a really dynamic way.

AECOM, a Los Angeles firm that has a Minneapolis office, has proposed a mix of skyscrapers that could include a hotel, multifamily residential, retail and offices, said AECOM managing principal Brian Dusek.

Outdoor space could include parks, a promenade along the river with outdoor dining and a possible amphitheater with St. Peter Street and Market Street extending over the railroad tracks through the site to the river, he said. Renderings show tree-lined walkways, a dock and a cascading waterfall.

The Prairie Island Indian Community, which owns the Treasure Island Resort Casino, has proposed a hotel, workforce apartments, and offices to be built on the property, said Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega.

The Prairie Island Indian Community declined to comment on its proposal.

It needs to be something the community and the county and the city are proud of and thats the kind of stuff that we are looking at, Ortega said, about the proposals. That it has access to the river, that it is multiuse, has amenities to the public. We are looking at all of those issues.

Ramsey County spent $17 million to demolish the West Publishing and county jail buildings and prepare the site for redevelopment. Previously, it selected Phoenix-based Cardon Development Group to build a $225 million mixed-use project that would have included a hotel, offices and housing. Those plans fell through last year.

In recent months, the county managers office has been talking with as many as nine developers about the site.

We continue having very robust conversations with developers and partners about transforming the Riverfront Properties site into a premier development that is a long-term landmark asset for downtown and the broader community, said Ramsey County spokesman John Siqveland.

Ramsey County staff plan to recommend a development proposal for the site at a County Board workshop on Nov. 13.

I think they are all good projects, Ortega said. We have more questions to ask.

Nicole Norfleet 612-673-4495 Twitter: @nicolenorfleet

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