Ryan Cos. announces plans for an urban village at St. Paul’s Ford site

October 11, 2018

Ryan Cos. unveiled plans Wednesday night to transform the former Ford Motor Co. site into a mixed-use urban village that promises to be one of St. Paul’s largest redevelopment opportunities in generations.

To achieve that sweeping vision, the Minneapolis-based developer announced that it will plant at least 1,000 trees, set aside more than 50 acres for public-access open space and construct Little League baseball fields. The plan was unveiled to the public in a presentation at Highland Park Middle School.

About 20 percent of the residential units will be affordable housing, interspersed with apartments, condominiums and senior living communities, Ryan has said. The development will also include retail stores and health care facilities.

Mike Ryan, market leader of Ryan’s north region, praised the design for balancing diverse living spaces and amenities.

“Neighborhoods like this are very rare, and I can’t imagine a location in the state where a new resident would rather live,” he said.

City officials have said the site has a potential redevelopment value of $1.3 billion and could bring in new tax revenue of more than $20 million annually. Ryan estimates that the project will create more than 14,000 construction jobs and 1,300 permanent jobs in a variety of industries after its completion.

The announcement came after months of internal planning and several meetings involving the surrounding neighborhood, all on the heels of a decade of discussions and community meetings that followed Ford’s decision to cease its Highland Park operations.

Ford announced in June that Ryan would be the developer of the 122-acre site.

For some, the Ford site redevelopment is considered a rare chance for St. Paul to add affordable housing and green amenities in a brand-new, forward-looking neighborhood. Others have pressed for a development that meshes with the character — including traffic and housing density — of the surrounding neighborhood, expressing fears about tall apartment buildings and rush-hour traffic gridlock.

Construction at the property, south of Ford Parkway along the Mississippi River, could begin as soon as 2019, Ryan said. It is one of Ryan’s largest projects, although the company has played major roles in high-profile local developments including W Minneapolis-The Foshay in downtown Minneapolis, Midtown Exchange in south Minneapolis, the $588 million Downtown East mixed-use project flanking U.S. Bank Stadium, and CHS Field in St. Paul’s Lowertown.

The St. Paul City Council last year approved a master plan for the Ford site, complete with zoning for multifamily housing, parks and transit access. Project zoning amendments will also require city approval.

Developers assured the public that after decades of car manufacturing, Ford has cleaned the site to meet state standards for residential property.

“We have taken due our diligence period very seriously, and we would not move forward with the development if we were not confident that it was cleaned up to our residential standards,” Ryan said.

Staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report. James Walsh • 612-673-7428

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