Mar 9, 2023 - Real Estate

Highland Bridge development progresses, but apartments still stuck

A medical building in St. Paul

Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

St. Paul's Highland Bridge development took another step forward this week with the opening of a new medical office building anchored by M Health Fairview.

State of play: Construction is also underway on three affordable housing complexes on the 122-acre site.

  • Plus, developer Ryan Cos. is already looking for tenants for a second planned medical office building.

What's ahead: The third of four parks, Assembly Union, will open this summer, bringing three pickleball courts, a basketball court and a large play area.

Yes, but: A huge question mark remains. Ryan has halted all future apartment development, citing the city's new rent control policy for scaring off lenders and investors.

  • Despite St. Paul carving out a 20-year exemption for new construction, the company said in November it was unsure if it could get financing for projects (company officials wanted a 30-year exemption).

What they're saying (now): "We don't have support from any of our lenders or investors ... to build any more (apartments)," said Tony Barranco, the company's north region president.

The bottom line: Without financing for the apartments, the massive project — originally planned for 3,800 housing units — will stall out somewhere around 800 units (construction of houses and row homes will continue).

Yes, but: There are other factors slowing down apartment construction, namely high interest rates and high construction costs.


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