Snelling and Selby is on a fast track for big-time redevelopment, which will make the already-gentrifying corner even shinier. The big Associated Bank building on the northeast corner will go, and most of the two blocks between Marshall and Selby will be completely rebuilt with retail space, apartments and — yes — a new bank building.
The overall development plan is not yet finalized or approved — which means that now is the time that local residents and businesses can stand up, speak out and help to shape the future of the corner. (For a lesson on why and how communities need to get involved in development early on, see St. Paul: Pelham site defeat holds lessons for neighborhood district councils by Anne Holzman.)
The corner is now home to Associated Bank, which will remain one of the major players, moving from its current, and somewhat outdated, building to a new site about a block south. According to Sarah Kidwell at the Union Park District Council, the bank already owns some of the houses on Snelling and on Dayton, adjacent to the current bank parking lot, and they plan to buy Getten Credit Union and are negotiating with the railroad for some land adjacent to the tracks.
Ryan Companies is the developer, and spokesperson Tony Barranco said they are excited about the project, but just beginning. They met with the Union Park District Council Land Use Committee in November, and will be back, probably more than once. Barranco told me:
“We are planning a mixed use project with retail and residential. That’s about the extent of what we know. We don’t have a retailer to identify as a project anchor at this point. We don’t know the number of apartments we are looking to put in.”
Neighboring businesses and Noel Nix, an aide to city council representative Melvin Carter III, have all heard talk about a grocery store going in. Would another grocery store would make sense there, with Cub, Rainbow, Whole Foods and Kowalski’s all within a mile of the corner? Barranco said they “don’t have any commitments and are not close enough to talk about it. You can say we intend to have retail as part of it.”
The other part of it is rental, probably lots of rental. Again, Barranco wouldn’t talk numbers of apartments or numbers or heights of apartment buildings. With Snelling likely to see bus rapid transit, and the Green Line less than a mile away, this is a prime location for transit-oriented development. Barranco said all of the residential space would be rental and all would be market-rate rental. That means no “affordable” rental units targeted at lower-income tenants.
A couple of neighboring businesses expressed concern about parking. Currently, Associated Bank is a good neighbor, allowing off-street parking in its lots after hours. On-street parking is tight, especially with the growing retail presence anchored by the refurbished CCI Properties building that houses Patina, Two Smart Cookies, Martha’s Gardens and more. Several vintage clothing stores, Cahoots Coffee Bar, the Neighborhood Cafe, and A-1 Lock Service are among the other thriving indie businesses on the corner — and, of course, O’Gara’s is a St. Paul institution for more than 70 years.
Hundreds of new residents will increase parking demand, as will new retail development. Neighbors who have relied on Associated’s lot to relieve the parking pressure want to know what kind of parking the new development will offer, not only for residents but also for customers of all of the neighborhood businesses.
According to Barranco, they are “hoping to have a site plan together in 60-90 days” and that they want to have at least partial opening by 2014.
How fast is the approval process? That’s not at all clear. Barranco said they will spend more time with Union Park District Council, getting more feedback. He said they will also talk to close neighbors, and revise the plan, before going to the “public process” with the City of St. Paul.
The timing for the project is key to neighborhood input and influence. In Holzman’s article, District Council staff emphasized the importance of neighborhood input at early stages of project planning:
“We learned we really have to get involved in the first stage of development,” [Fulner-Erickson] said. “Once site plans go to the level of city staff approval, the staff’s hands are tied by zoning and other considerations.”
City approval for the Selby-Snelling project probably means first rezoning the two blocks and then approving a site plan.
The Union Park District Council Land Use Committee meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Anchor Bank community room, which makes the next meeting December 11. The Union Park District Council Board of Directors meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m., which makes the next meeting December 5 at the Western District Police Station at 388 S. Hamline Avenue. [Contact info for UPDC: call (651) 645-6887 or email firstname.lastname@example.org]
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