Mar 18, 2021 - News

Inside the plans to redevelop St. Paul's Hillcrest Golf Course

This is the Hilltop scenario which would have more housing and less industrial space Image: Cuningham

Two plans have emerged for what to do with the former Hillcrest Golf Course on St. Paul's East Side.

The state of play: Both involve a mix of an industrial buildings, housing and parkland, but they diverge on how much of each.

The "Hilltop Plan" would have a large, 24-acre park in the middle, with denser housing on the north and industrial buildings on the interior.

  • 1,151 units of housing
  • 750 to 800 jobs
  • 24 acres of parkland

The "Jobs Focus Plan" would be heavier on industrial uses built up along McKnight Avenue. There would be lower density housing and a smaller park.

  • 900 units of housing
  • 1,000 jobs
  • 13 acres of parkland
The job focus plan has a smaller park, more industrial space and lower-density housing Image: Cunigham

The intrigue: Hillcrest, in a blue-collar neighborhood, is about the same size as the Ford site, another redevelopment project located in the affluent Highland Park neighborhood.

  • St. Paul City Council approved more than $107 million in tax-increment financing to pay for infrastructure and affordable housing at the Ford site.
  • Hillcrest got $10 million worth of help through taxpayer bonds that the St. Paul Port Authority used to buy the course. Otherwise, the Port Authority will have to pay for the roughly $27 million worth of infrastructure and site cleanup by selling land to developers.

What they're saying: Ethan Osten, a member of the Community Advisory Committee for Hillcrest, told MinnPost that the city's lack of investment will make the project harder to develop.

  • Port Authority President Lee Krueger disagreed, telling Nick the land sales should produce enough money "to pay for infrastructure that will be high quality."

What's next: The city, Port Authority and architect Cuningham are taking feedback and hope to get a master plan approved this fall.

  • The best-case scenario would see construction begin in 2023, but a total buildout could take 8 to 10 years.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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