A $900 million project that would dramatically alter St. Paul's skyline and transform its riverfront took a step forward week.
Ramsey County directed its staff to enter talks with developer AECOM over an exclusive 6-month agreement, which would see the company perform due diligence on its ambitious riverfront vision.
Its proposal would see a massive residential, commercial and retail development built on a "land bridge" over Shepard Road, between the Minnesota Science Museum and the Wabasha Street bridge.
This would see Shepard Road and the railroad tracks go underneath the development, giving downtown St. Paul genuine pedestrian access to the riverfront through connections from St. Peter Street and Market Street.
If followed through to the end, the development would also see the building of four towers that would change the city's skyline.
The project would be carried out in three phases, which are as follows:
Phase 0: Construction of a 1,200-1,800 stall parking ramp that would go beneath the development.
Cost: Factored in to other phases.
Phase 1: Construction of small tower creating 250-350 apartments, along with a larger tower housing a 150-250 room luxury hotel and 80-150 condos. It would also see Phase 1 of the land bridge – known as "The Lid" – over the railroad and Shepard Road.
Phase 2: Building of a 12-20 story office tower (height depends on market demand), extension of "The Lid" around the tower, and extension of St. Peter Street to the river esplanade.
Phase 3: Construction of a 24-36 story office tower, additional public realm space, a connection to Market Street and Upper Landing, and finishing the esplanade to connect Market and St. Peter Streets.
If fully approved and able to go ahead, the development is scheduled to be completed in 2026, though MPR notes that this is the fourth attempt to redevelop the riverfront in St. Paul since 1992.
Mayor Melvin Carter says the project would prove hugely attractive in encouraging businesses and families to settle in the city, saying: "When people decide to start their business, plant their roots, and live out their dreams in Saint Paul – our downtown vitality, access to riverfront amenities, culture and entertainment are all factors that matter."
Ramsey County Board Chair Jim McDonough meanwhile says that the project represents "a unique opportunity to bring vibrancy to downtown Saint Paul in a way that has never been done before."