Hillcrest Timeline: In the Beginning
The Hillcrest Golf Course first opened 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 in place until the 1970s. The last tee times at Hillcrest were in October 2017. Today, Hillcrest represents a significant investment on Saint Paul’s East Side.
2021 and Beyond
Finalization of the Master Plan is the primary focus for 2021. At the same time, the Port Authority will work closely with WSB‘s engineer consultants to develop a roadmap to potentially achieve a Carbon-Free Community that meets USGBC’s LEED Platinum requirements. At the same time, we will focus on site predesign, planning, analysis, and engineering.
A city-council approved plan is expected in early 2022, which will allow us to pivot to land sales and infrastructure in the new year. Construction should begin in 2023 with initial occupancies in 2024.
While 2020 posed unique challenges, the City of Saint Paul continued with the Master Planning 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).
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.
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.
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 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.