SAINT PAUL, MN – Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman today joined Ford Site Manager Michael Hogan and City Councilmember Chris Tolbert to provide an update on the redevelopment of the former Ford assembly site, approximately one year before the site is expected to be marketed to prospective master developers by Ford Land once a full environmental assessment is complete. Stressing an ambitious vision for the 21st Century Community, Mayor Coleman outlined action steps the city will undertake ahead of the anticipated issuance of a national request for proposals by Ford Land.
“Through continued hard work and engagement among our residents, business owners and city staff, my hope is that once the environmental and other studies are completed we will have the green light for these 125 acres along the Mississippi River to reemerge as a connected, livable and green site and serve as a model for a 21st Century Community,” said Mayor Coleman.
“Taking a passive role on this site is not an option for our city – and, thankfully, we have a partner in Ford who welcomes our engagement. Outlining an ambitious vision and setting clear parameters for a future development partner, as we are doing, requires that we work aggressively this year and take concrete steps to ensure our expectations can be met.”
Ford reiterated the company’s intent to position the site for marketing in mid-2015, when Ford Land will issue a national request for proposals to attract a master developer for the site. Building on development and community engagement activities that began in 2007, the city will lead multiple efforts over the next year to ensure prospective developers are given greater certainty about the site’s potential use.
“Looking ahead, this site will go on the national stage in search of a developer to recast it into a 21st Century Community,” Coleman said. “Ultimately, when the site is complete, it should demonstrate that we can connect people through multiple-forms of transit, that community energy needs can be met on site, and that jobs, people and green space can interact to create a vibrant and livable place to work and live. But we need to help attract the right developer by doing some of the legwork ahead of going to market.”
Mayor Coleman outlined key urban design and planning activities the City will lead over the next year, including:
Zoning Research and Analysis: The city will initiate work to rezone the site to guide future use and design. New zoning for the site must be carefully evaluated by the city, key stakeholders, the real estate community and the public. Public meetings to review zoning priorities for the site will begin in October of this year, with work expected to be completed by early 2016.
Jobs and Employment Workgroup: A jobs and employment working group will evaluate potential employment at the site and how to reflect the changing patterns of the 21st Century workforce. Partners to help the city identify neighborhood friendly employers include GreaterMSP, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and Saint Paul Building and Construction Trades Council.
Energy and Sustainability Study: The city will complete an energy and sustainability study, evaluating how renewable energy resources as well as energy efficient technologies can help achieve a site with a minimal energy use profile. The McKnight Foundation provided funding to the city to hire an energy consultant team to evaluate options for renewable, on-site generation. The study will be conducted by Copenhagen-based Ramboll Energy and will serve this site as well as provide findings to inform and inspire other communities. Additional assistance is being provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. The study is expected to be ready by summer 2015.
Transportation Planning: Ongoing transportation planning will address a multi-modal approach for residents to move between living, learning, working and recreating in the community. This will include discussions about linking to existing mass transit opportunities, such as bus and light rail, with walkable and bikeable elements. Transportation options will be evaluated in concert with the zoning study and will be coordinated with other transportation planning efforts currently underway, such as the Riverview Corridor study currently underway.
Ongoing Public Communications: Regular updates will be provided on a special section of the city’s website, www.stpaul.gov/21stCenturyCommunity as well as via the city’s Facebook page and Twitter handle. The city also announced a new monthly e-newsletter, Saint Paul’s 21st Century Community, that can help subscribers track progress on the site. The newsletter’s first edition will be in August 2014 and people are invited to subscribe via www.stpaulgov/21stCenturyCommunity.
“We owe it to past, present and future Highland Park and St. Paul residents to strive for greatness at the Ford Site,” said St. Paul City Councilmember Chris Tolbert who represents the Highland Park neighborhood. “Today we are taking an important step toward our vision for a ‘21st Century Community’ that embodies the things we love about St. Paul, and the things that will keep our neighborhood and city strong for future generations. Our task is to achieve greatness at this site for our neighborhood and our city, and I am excited to get to work.”