Since 2006, when Ford Motor Company announced its intent to close the plant, the City of Saint Paul has been working actively to plan for the site’s future.
A total of 14 professional studies conducted by the City and additional studies by Ford Motor Company have examined a wide range of topics, such as the potential of industrial reuse, a geotechnical analysis of the tunnels under the site, open space priorities, sustainable design, stormwater management, and traffic impacts.
The studies were essential to understand opportunities for and limitations on the redevelopment of the site – economically, environmentally, socially, and within the context of the community. The studies identified infrastructure efficiencies, cost-effectiveness, opportunities for environment design and conservation, and how to strike a balance between development and the creation of vibrant public spaces.
1. Ford Site Transportation Study (2016)
The City of Saint Paul hired nationally recognized professional transportation analysis firms Nelson/Nygaard, SRF Consulting and Utile to conduct a transportation study on how the Ford Site could develop without straining the traffic system in the surrounding neighborhood.
The study showed that incorporating a street grid on the site will assist in managing vehicle traffic and provide better connections for pedestrian and cyclists. A robust transportation network will create a connected site that accounts for and enhances the residential element of the existing neighborhood and will ensure a better experience for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike – both in and around the site, particularly along Ford Parkway.
The master developer selected for the site will be required to conduct a more-detailed traffic study that will provide more specific information about needed improvements in the area and allow the city to develop precise cost estimates for needed infrastructure. This will be part of the full, state-mandated Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR) considering many aspects of the development. The AUAR will likely be completed in 2019.
2. Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) Feasibility Study (2016)
Underground Energy, LLC performed a feasibility study of Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) for heating and cooling of the proposed redevelopment at the Ford Site. ATES is a sustainable geothermal heating and cooling technology that can yield significant, large-scale energy savings for buildings and energy districts that have large heating and cooling requirements and that overlie at least one productive aquifer.
In 2018, Ever-Green Energy presented the Ford Site Energy Implementation Plan. This plan is intended to help decision-makers prioritize the infrastructure and technology solutions for the development.
3. Integration of Rooftop Photovoltaic Systems in Saint Paul Ford Site’s Redevelopment Plans (2016)
4. Sustainable Stormwater Management Study (2016)
The City is actively looking at innovative approaches to stormwater management on a variety of sites throughout the city, with Ford Site redevelopment being a clear opportunity to consider a district-wide approach. Capitol Region Watershed District and the City of Saint Paul completed a Sustainable Stormwater Management Study to enhance potential outcomes for stormwater infrastructure on the Ford Site. The study lays the groundwork for future stormwater infrastructure, with one of the goals being to ”daylight” Hidden Falls Creek in Saint Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood, identified as a priority in the City’s adopted Great River Passage plan. The Ford stormwater infrastructure plan outlines transformation of the site by featuring a stormwater-based amenity for the community that reconnects the community to parks and the Mississippi River.
5. Jobs Strategy Report (2016)
The Ford Site Job Strategy Workgroup evaluated potential employment at the site and how to reflect the changing patterns of the 21st Century workforce. Partners including GREATER MSP, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Saint Paul Port Authority, and Saint Paul Building and Construction Trades Council identified neighborhood-friendly employment types for the site and strategies to attract those employers to the future development. Based on the current proposed zoning plans, the site could support roughly 1,500 jobs, nearly matching the number of people previously employed at the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant’s peak.
6. Sustainable Ford Site Redevelopment – A LEED-ND Evaluation (2016)
This report, prepared by the Natural Resources Defense Council, recommends strategies to implement comprehensive and sustainable redevelopment of the Ford Site. The guidelines were generated by auditing the city’s priorities for the site and previous site planning documents for against the NRDC Green Neighborhood Assessment Tool.
7. Saint Paul Ford Site Energy Study Report (2015)
The City of Saint Paul hired Ramboll Energy and Krifcon Engineering to evaluate opportunities for renewable, on-site energy generation. Funding for this study was provided by the McKnight Foundation and additional assistance was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Saint Paul.
8. Market Analysis for the Ford Site (2015)
Maxfield Research and Consulting LLC conducted a market study for the future Ford site in 2015. The findings informed the type and mix of uses envisioned by the City of Saint Paul in its zoning concept for the future site.
9. Ford Site Zoning Framework Study (2013)
It’s critical that the City of Saint Paul ensure it has the proper tools, including zoning, at its disposal to efficiently and effectively facilitate redevelopment of the Ford Site that reflects the comprehensive and ambitious vision and goals of the City, community and other stakeholders. The Ford Site Zoning Framework Study, with financing provided by the Metropolitan Council Metropolitan Livable Communities Fund, considered what type of zoning tools and districts could effectively provide for:
- The range and mix of uses and scale of development contemplated in the five redevelopment scenarios;
- Economic, social and environmental sustainability that relates to the surrounding neighborhood; and
- Flexibility to respond to market changes that occur over the years it takes to redevelop the site.
Consultants from SEH, Cornejo Consulting and DPZ & Company conducted the study and presented an overview to the Planning Commission on October 19, 2013, detailing the analysis and potential zoning approaches. Information and findings from the report are found in the Executive Summary and Ford Zoning Framework Study report and City Zoning Analysis (also Appendices 2 - Case Studies and 3 - Site Transects). Three presentations made by the consultant team to the Ford Site Planning Task Force during the study also describe the Ford Zoning Study process, interim findings, and evaluation of zoning approaches that informed the final report.
10. The Roadmap to Sustainability for the Saint Paul Ford Site (2011)
The Roadmap to Sustainability for the Saint Paul Ford Site and Executive Summary, prepared by a team of sustainable development and green design professionals, presents an important and ambitious agenda for sustainable redevelopment of the site and mechanisms to move that agenda forward in cooperation with policy makers, site developers and the community. This work was made possible through a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
11. Ford Site Open Space Guidelines (2010)
A Ford Site Open Space Workgroup convened in June 2010 to support and refine the work of the Ford Site Planning Task Force in the area of open space planning. The group’s work over eight months culminated in the report, Ford Site Open Space Guidelines. Consultants from Hoisington Koegler Group and HR&A Advisors led the workgroup's efforts and prepared the report, with assistance from Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, the Department of Planning and Economic Development, and the Ward 3 City Council office of Patrick Harris.
12. Sustainable Stormwater Feasibility Report (2009)
The Sustainable Stormwater Feasibility Report for the Ford Plant Site (and Report Figures), prepared by Barr Engineering, investigates the feasibility of low-impact stormwater management at the Ford Site and general recommendations to achieve it in redevelopment. This work was made possible through a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
13. Green Manufacturing Potential for the Ford Site (2009)
The goal of returning quality jobs to the Ford Site as part of redevelopment prompted this study to assess the potential of attracting green manufacturing. The Ford Site Green Manufacturing Reuse Study concluded that the site is not strongly positioned for wholescale industrial reuse in today’s marketplace, particularly given constrained road access to interstates. However, the study identified a window of opportunity for smaller scale industries potentially suited to neighborhood infill sites like Ford in the central cities. This work was made possible under a grant from the Department of Commerce, as directed by the Minnesota State Legislature.
14. Vision, Goals and Five Redevelopment Scenarios (2007)
In 2007, a consultant team hired by the City of Saint Paul worked with the Ford Site Planning Task Force, stakeholders, and the public to identify a general vision and goals for the site and to create five alternative development scenarios for a redeveloped Ford Site. The five scenarios intentionally represent a wide range of distinctive reuse options and were developed for the purposes of analyzing the benefits and impacts of different land use and infrastructure choices.
· Scenario 1: Primary Reuse for Industry
· Scenario 2: Mixed Use - Light Industrial / Flex Tech
· Scenario 3: Mixed Use - Office / Institutional Campus
· Scenario 4: Mixed Use - Urban Village
· Scenario 5: High Density Urban Transit Village
1. Public art
Staff met with many local public art experts and community members to create a technical guiding document that serves as a starting point and possible template for a future community-drive Public Art Plan for the Ford Site. Technical details for implementation, sample tables, visions, and public art inspiration are included to provide understanding and to inspire.
2. Real estate
Perry Rose advised the City on redevelopment priorities, opportunities and financial feasibility of the site. They conducted a financial real estate analysis of potential redevelopment, based on estimated site value from a market study conducted by Maxfield Consulting and estimated infrastructure costs based on a study by SRF.
3. Ford Site study tour of Europe
In early 2015, City officials and community partners traveled through European cities to identify key lessons and beneficial ways to build a 21st Century Community at the Ford Site. Check out this video that summarizes some of the key takeaways from the trip:
1. Master developer search (2018-2019)
Ford has not yet determined when it seeking a master developer to buy and redevelop the site. CBRE will represent Ford when the site goes to market.
2. Alternative Urban Area-wide Review (2018-2019)
An Alternative Urban Area-wide Review (AUAR) is similar to an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for multiple development scenarios on the same property and typically takes 12 months to complete. The AUAR will provide analyses that inform the community, developers and decisions-makers about potential environmental and traffic impacts of redevelopment and mitigation measures that may be needed in response. The state mandates that an AUAR, paid for by the property owner, be conducted on the redevelopment scenarios once the site environmental assessment is nearly complete and a prospective developer is identified. The City of Saint Paul would be the responsible governmental unit overseeing the AUAR.