Former Ford Site master development finalized; could go to city council by end of 2019

Officials: $92 million in infrastructure needed with $53 in tax increment funding

Sloane Martin
November 12, 2019 - 2:04 pm
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St. Paul officials announce the master plan development for the former Ford plant is finalized and set to go before the city council by the end of 2019.

The 122-acre site is currently filled with gravel, concrete and empty fields. After the Ford plant in the Highland Park neighborhood ceased operation in 2011 after 84 years, it took about a decade to clean up the site and find a solution. In 2017, officials adopted a proposal described as a "sustainable mixed-use village" and "21st Century community" of 40 full, new city blocks to be completed with the help of Minnesota-based Ryan Companies.

"When Ford Motor Company opened a sprawling auto manufacturing plant on the banks of the Mississippi River, they laid the foundation for nearly a century of opportunity and growth in our city," St. Paul ward 3 Councilmember Chris Tolbert said. "I believe that today we are embarking on another once-in-a-century project that will reap benefits for generations to come."

The site retains 50 acres of green, public space with parks, recreational fields, walking paths, waterways and more than 1,000 trees. There will be 3,800 housing units — at least 20 percent of which (760 units) will be affordable to households between $30,000 to $60,000 for a family of four — including rowhomes, single-family and multi-family-style. There will be 265,000 sq. ft. of office space and 150,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The baseball fields will be preserved.

City of St. Paul/Ryan Companies

Officials predict it will create 14,500 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent full-time jobs once it's complete. It will also be home to Minnesota's largest urban solar array with the goal of 100% electricity derived from renewable and carbon-free sources. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter says it's estimated to generate $1 billion in added property tax value to the city's current $23 million tax base.

"In addition to the public-private partnership we were just discussing, there will hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment to bring the actual projects to life, which is all the vertical development," said Mike Ryan of Ryan Companies.

According to the city: "The proposal includes an investment of $92 million for new public parks and infrastructure, realized in part through $32 million in private infrastructure investment in addition to the private investment required to develop the numerous individual projects and $53 million in tax increment financing." 

"It's the investment in the infrastructure," Ryan said. "You have to build all of the streets, all of the parks, the utilities, all of that."

It will take up to two decades for the site to be fully finished. The first residents could be living there as soon as three years from now.

Ryan Companies has not purchased the site from Ford and Mike Ryan said he was not able to discuss the timing of that. Construction will begin closest to the Mississippi River and Ford Parkway.

Ryan Companies

Ryan Companies

Ryan Companies

Ryan Companies

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