The Saint Paul Port Authority acquired the former Hillcrest Golf Course in June 2019 for $10 million. Redevelopment of the 112-acre site is contingent upon a comprehensive master plan.
Master Planning Process
The city of Saint Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) is leading the master planning process. Above all, this plan will dictate what will be built on the site and determine the balance between housing, jobs, and open spaces. Planning starts in the fall of 2019 and should take 12 to 18 months to complete.
To ensure both residents and business owners have a voice in this process, the city is creating a 10-person Community Advisory Committee. Applications are being accepted through September 6, 2019. Once formed, the committee will discuss topics including land use priorities, street and trail networks, open spaces, and neighborhood connections. Right now, the plan is to include five Saint Paul residents and one or two Maplewood residents. Residents may be renters, homeowners, or business owners. In addition, the goal is to have one business representative and one planning commissioner join the committee. And to ensure representation of larger groups, there is a spot available for both a housing representative and someone with expertise in multi-modal transportation. Roles are subject to change depending on applications received. The committee is to be reflective of the age, race and gender diversity of the Greater East Side.
Committee work will begin in October 2019. Monthly meetings will be held on Tuesdays, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The meeting schedule may change as needed. Once complete, the Port Authority will follow the master plan to design, construct, and deliver market-ready parcels. Ideally, parcels will be on the market by 2021.
Project Financing and Projections
The Saint Paul Port Authority will use general obligation bonds to cover the $10 million purchase price. Debt service will be approximately $750,000 per year, over a 25-year term. Tax payer burden will be less than $5 per year for a median-valued home.
The Port Authority will then pay for site clean-up, infrastructure, and green space with revenues earned through land sales, grants, and assessments. As of July 24, 2019, $300,000 in grants have been secured through the EPA.
Because of these improvements, private sector investment will follow. Post-development, we expect the property to be worth $250 million. Furthermore, tax revenues should increase from $500,000 to $5 million per year, adding to the city’s bottom line.
Our goal is to protect up to 20 acres of green space on the former golf course site. This could include parks, open spaces, and both stormwater and wetland amenities. While the Port Authority will design and construct all spaces, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation will maintain up to five acres. The Port Authority will maintain the remaining 15. Green spaces will also serve as a buffer between industrial and residential properties. All green spaces are contingent upon the final master plan.
One of the three pillars of our mission statement is advancing sustainable design. Along those lines, we will advocate for Next Generation Stormwater Management systems, renewable energy systems, and sustainably designed buildings on the site. In addition, light industrial buildings will be required to go through a Green Building Design Review. The goal here is to identify new ways to improve worker health and productivity, minimize environmental impacts, and protect the health and safety of those living and working in the neighborhood. All sustainability strategies are contingent upon the final master plan.
Future construction contracts will be subject to a Project Labor Agreement. In addition, the Saint Paul Port Authority will follow the city of Saint Paul’s HREEO standards, including the Vendor Outreach Program. The Port Authority will also work with engineers and consultants to recruit a diverse local workforce throughout the construction process.
The Saint Paul Port Authority’s Position
While we cannot overstate the importance of the final master plan, our vision for Hillcrest is a mixed-use development with housing, jobs, and green space. At the Saint Paul Port Authority, we have a long-history of purchasing and redeveloping distressed properties that are perceived as too risky for private investment. Hillcrest fits this description because of soil contamination, lack of infrastructure, lack of a master plan, topography challenges, and zoning needs.
As an economic development agency, our goal is to accelerate redevelopment by removing barriers. As risks are eliminated, private investment will follow. In fact, we foresee this as the biggest modern-day investment in Saint Paul’s East Side. When all is said and done, we will deliver on jobs, housing, and tax revenue goals.
Last updated August 12, 2019