Jun 24, 2021 - News
A look inside St. Paul's Highland Bridge development
A new central water feature at St. Paul's Highland Bridge site with steps for enjoying the water and trails alongside.
A new central water feature at the Highland Bridge site has steps for enjoying the water and trails alongside. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

The vision for the former Ford plant in St. Paul is finally looking like a reality, thanks to a massive civil engineering job that has recreated a creek in the middle of the $1.4 billion, 10-year project.

Driving the news: Nick Koch, project executive for master developer Ryan Cos., gave Axios' Nick Halter a tour of the 122-acre Highland Bridge development this week, at a time when infrastructure work is about 60% complete and the first buildings are under construction.

Why it matters: The project will eventually bring 3,800 new housing units as well as medical, retail and office space to the city.

  • But it also has several public elements that will be available sooner than you might think.

Chief among those is a central water feature, as well as two new city parks, that will likely be available for public use this fall.

  • The feature catches stormwater from the development and the surrounding neighborhood, sending it through a three-phase filtration system before flowing into a recreated creek that had been filled in by farmers decades ago.
  • Two more parks will open next year and a civic plaza along Ford Parkway could be completed this fall or next spring, Koch said.
An excavator creates a new creek in St. Paul's Highland Bridge development.
An excavator created a new creek channel in St. Paul's Highland Bridge development this week. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

What else is happening: A new street grid is taking shape, with the first asphalt going down this week.

  • Construction is underway on a 230-unit market-rate apartment complex that will also be home to a relocated Lunds & Byerlys store.
  • Crews this week also started building a 300-unit senior living complex by Presbyterian Homes & Services.
  • Meanwhile, work is in progress on four model row homes that will help Pulte Homes sells the 325 other row homes planned on 15 new city blocks.

What's next: Construction on nearly 200 affordable apartments will begin by the end of the year, and work could start on the first of 34 custom homes along Mississippi River Boulevard in the spring.

  • The entire project should be complete around 2030.
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