Jul 20, 2023 - Development

First phases of development around Allianz Field could start this fall

Allianz Field and surrounding land

Allianz Field during the MLS All-Star in 2022. Photo: Omar Vega/Getty Images

Development around St. Paul's Allianz Field could get started as soon as this fall, but it may not be nearly as grandiose as the master plan approved for the 35-acre superblock back in 2016.

The latest: Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire told that Axios construction could begin in the coming months on an office building, hotel, food pavilion, a large playground, and a sculpture garden.

Why it matters: Some neighbors have been frustrated by the lack of progress around the soccer stadium, which currently is largely surface parking lots.

  • McGuire stressed that new plans submitted to the city don’t dramatically change his earlier urban village vision, though this first phase doesn’t include any of the towers and dense housing in the master plan.

Between the lines: Real estate experts always doubted in early plans that the Midway neighborhood could support the 1 million square feet of office space. With the rise of remote work, those prospects are even dimmer, given the high vacancy rates in Twin Cities office towers.

  • Apartment construction has remained strong in the metro, but McGuire wouldn’t say if housing remains part of his vision. Several remaining blocks in the new plans are slated for development, but it’s not specified if they'll be office, residential, hotel, or retail.

Be smart: In business terms, the Midway neighborhood is facing some headwinds.

  • Buildings destroyed in the 2020 riots have not been rebuilt, leaving scars along University Avenue.
  • Green Line train ridership remains depressed due in part to crime problems.
  • High-interest rates, construction costs, and St. Paul's rent control policy have also made development more difficult (though housing construction in St. Paul has ticked back up in 2023 after a dramatic slowdown in 2022).
  • Across Snelling Avenue, two apartment buildings called The Pitch and Pivot have opened since the stadium was built. Both are advertising two free months of rent for new leases and have significant availabilities. Groups that finance apartment projects could see those discounts as red flags.

What he's saying: McGuire said the sculpture park, playground, hotel, and office building are intended as building blocks to "excite people to come to the area."

  • The office building, he added, will be about 90,000 square feet and the tenants would be relocating to the neighborhood from elsewhere.
  • Asked if the building would become Minnesota United FC's headquarters, McGuire said, "That's a possibility."

The intrigue: Jonathan Oppenheimer, who served on a citizen advisory committee for the project, wrote last week that McGuire is planning an enormous sculpture of a loon (the team mascot) for the corner of Snelling and University.

  • McGuire confirmed that an international artist is working on a sculpture that will be exciting and "potentially iconic."
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