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Ford site development agreement reached, according to St. Paul and Ryan Cos.

By November 11, 2019December 13th, 2021Site development

The Ryan Cos. has entered into a development agreement with the City of St. Paul that will bring 3,800 housing units, the state’s largest urban solar panel and 100% of the electricity from renewable or carbon-free sources to the Ford Motor Co vacant. site.

The plan – which must be approved by city council – relies on funding of $ 53 million in increase in municipal taxes.

It is a type of public investment that recycles new property taxes generated on the site to fund improvements in the same location – public infrastructure such as utilities, parks and water bodies in 40 future development blocks. Estate on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in the City District of Highland Park.

That number is less than half of the $ 107 million TIF requested in March by Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. However, it does not fully encompass the additional TIF funds that will likely be needed to ensure that 20% of the housing on site is affordable.

“It wasn’t always clear that we would end up here on this stage,” Gov. Tim Walz said, introducing St. Paul’s Mayor Melvin Carter and officials to Ryan on Tuesday at a media event inside the hall. ‘an icy tent at the Ford site. “It’s an incredible part of the story that is on this piece of land.”

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, left, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Ryan Companies Northern Region President Mike Ryan shake hands and talk about the $ 92 million development of the Ford site at St. Paul’s Highland Park on November 12, 2019 (Pioneer Press / Scott Takushi)

Carter added, “After more than a decade of work, we are ready to make our grand vision for the Ford site a reality. The homes, jobs and public spaces we build here together will shape our city for generations to come.

As part of a master plan and zoning agreement signed in 2017, St. Paul City Council committed to providing a wide range of medium to high density housing on the outskirts of one of the neighborhoods. the city’s wealthiest, including affordable housing for the very poor – families earning 30 percent of the region’s median income, currently around $ 30,000 a year.

The $ 53 million from the TIF will finance more than half of the site’s $ 92 million in public infrastructure, with the remainder being private sector investment.

Affordable housing, which often draws funds from a variety of sources, can depend on additional TIF money on a project-by-project basis, said Ryan Cos. Vice president Tony Barranco.

“Our values ​​prioritized affordable housing at deeply affordable levels… sustainability, jobs and the preservation of Little League’s ball fields,” said Chris Tolbert, St. Paul City Council member.


Interior view of the Ford site in St. Paul’s Highland Park, looking west across the Mississippi River to the buildings at the Minneosta Veterans Home complex, November 12, 2019 (Pioneer Press / Scott Takushi)

Also in attendance at Tuesday’s event were representatives of the project’s new affordable housing partners – Project for Pride in Living, CommonBond Communities and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, including Habitat President Chris Coleman, former city mayor. .

Most of the city council members were in attendance, with the exception of Dai Thao, who Tolbert said was traveling for prior engagement, and Kassim Busuri.

RELATED: Ford Site Q&A: What Comes First, What About Ball Fields, More

Ryan officials have said if city approvals come together block by block, construction could begin in the spring and the first residents will move in three years later. The site’s infrastructure will be largely developed within five years.

The overall development plan will be presented to the municipal council before the end of the year.

On October 10, 2018, The Ryan Companies unveiled renderings and a general concept plan for the former Ford Twin Cities car plant in Highland Park, which will be converted into 3,500 housing units and 150,000 square feet of retail space. (Courtesy of Ryan Companies)

Ford opened the 122-acre Highland plant in 1925 to build Model T automobiles and closed it in 2011 as part of a national restructuring plan. The automaker chose Ryan Cos. as the main developer of the site in June 2018.

The overall goal is to create 3,800 housing units, 265,000 square feet of office space and 150,000 square feet of retail space.

Around 1,000 permanent jobs are envisaged on the site, in addition to the 14,500 construction jobs currently being developed. The plans call for 50 acres of open public space and over 1,000 trees.

Company officials said development would likely begin to unfold off Ford Parkway, starting with a civic plaza and through a series of single-family homes built along Boulevard on the Mississippi River.

When fully constructed over the next 10 to 20 years, the site is expected to add $ 1 billion in new property tax value to the city’s $ 23 billion tax base.

“This site has long been for us and for many one of the biggest redevelopments (opportunities)… in the country,” said Ryan Cos. Co-chair Mike Ryan. “Homes, jobs, nature, environment, sustainability, the ability to walk… I think what we’re going to accomplish here will have a longevity that’s hard to envision given the somewhat barren site today. “

TIF’s demand unveiled in March – $ 107 million in tax evasion to fund the site’s infrastructure, parks and other public spaces – has not been welcomed by many critics who have questioned why a new development in one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods would need a public subsidy. .

Some business leaders were concerned that the additional public investment would simply allow Ford to increase the selling price, knowing that taxpayers would actually bear the additional costs.

Ryan said his development team “never had to guess” the city’s political priorities, from parks to affordable housing. “Honestly, I got a little hungry in my stomach,” he said. “You have had great success in our discussions to make us accept more risks. “


On October 10, 2018, The Ryan Companies unveiled renderings and a general concept plan for the former Ford Twin Cities car plant in Highland Park, which will be converted into more than 3,500 housing units, 265,000 square feet of office space and 150,000 square feet of retail space. (Courtesy of The Ryan Companies)

Barranco said reaching this point has been “hard, difficult to put all of these pieces together” and thanked a long list of city employees and partners, including former council chairman Russ Stark, the head of the city. Resilience Mayor, Deputy Mayor Jaime Tincher and Melanie McMahon, Tolbert’s legislative aide.

The company is working closely with Xcel Energy to ensure that 100% of the electricity used on-site comes from renewable sources, including a new seven-acre solar panel that will likely be the state’s largest for an urban area.

“When we told them to think outside the box, they took the box and threw it away,” Barranco said.

The land – which spans 40 future city blocks – still belongs to Ford Motor Co. Barranco said Ford had provided the flexibility on the schedule to put a development program in place, but officials at Ryan Cos. didn’t want to say when the sale would be finalized. .

“They gave us time for this to happen,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, the St. Paul’s Center for Economic Inclusion released a written statement celebrating Ford’s sitemap and congratulating the mayor, city council and Ryan Cos. for a plan that prioritizes the development of mixed revenues across the site.

“Collectively, our regional leadership was not lacking in the drive to achieve equity, but in infrastructure,” said Tawanna Black, Founder and CEO.