Hillcrest Timeline: In the Beginning
The Hillcrest Golf Course timeline begins with its opening in 1921. Over the course of 96 years, it experienced a series of financial highs and lows and changed ownership multiple times. In 1945, a group of businessmen acquired the property and converted it to a Jewish-only operation. This was in response to the high level of anti-semitism at the time. Membership restrictions remained until the 1970s.
The Steamfitters Pipefitters Local 455 acquired Hillcrest Golf Course, which was in bankruptcy proceedings. Their original intent was to build a training center on the site. During this time, the course remained open.
Subsequently, the Local 455 found an alternate site for their training center. As a result, they put the Hillcrest Golf Course back on the market.
The Local 455 faced challenges selling Hillcrest Golf Course, due to soil contamination, limited infrastructure, and no master plan. Meanwhile, memberships were down and the course was losing money. Consequently, they closed the course in October 2017.
When the Local 455 realized the property was too challenging for the traditional commercial real estate market, they approached the Saint Paul Port Authority. The project was a unique fit for the Port Authority, because of their expertise cleaning and redeveloping brownfields. From there, negotiations began and the Port Authority embarked on the due diligence process.
To start, the Port Authority hired Maxfield Research & Consulting to conduct a market study. They delivered the report in April 2019. Results showed high demand for housing, both owner-occupied and rentals, with the highest demand for affordable housing options. They also identified significant potential for business parks, like those previously developed by the Saint Paul Port Authority.
In contrast, the report showed little opportunity for retail and office space. Exceptions include service retailers, value retailers, small grocers/co-ops, fitness centers, medical providers, and fast casual restaurants.
- Roadways and Grading
- Traffic Impacts
- Water and Sanitation
- Costs and Risks
In July 2019, the Saint Paul Port Authority purchased Hillcrest Golf Course for $10 million. The Saint Paul City Council and Port Authority Board of Commissioners both approved general obligation bonds to cover the purchase price.
At this time, the Port Authority assumed responsibility for future costs, including infrastructure investments. Both parties agreed that the Port Authority would not seek additional city funds, including Tax Increment Financing (TIF).