Ford Site Frequently Asked Questions

BACKGROUND

Q: What is "the Ford Site"?

The Ford Site is the location of a former Ford Motor Company assembly plant in the Highland Park neighborhood of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It includes three properties:

  1. The 122-acre main assembly plant parcel, located south of Ford Parkway and east of Mississippi River Boulevard. In June 2018, Ford awarded Ryan Companies the development rights to this parcel.
  2. The 22-acre river parcel (“Area C”), located along the Mississippi River and up to the bluff edge of Mississippi River Boulevard. This area contains a steam plant and wastewater treatment plant that served the main assembly plant, as well as a former dump site. This parcel is currently owned by Ford.
  3. The 13-acre rail yard, a wedge-shaped parcel located on the south border of Ford’s main parcel. The City of Saint Paul completed a feasibility study to reimage this area’s potential use. This parcel is currently owned by Canadian Pacific Railway.

Q: What is the Ford Site Zoning and Public Realm Master Plan (‘Ford Site Master Plan’)?

The Ford Site Master Plan, adopted by the Saint Paul City Council in 2017, is the culmination of a decade of planning for the site. It provides a framework to guide mixed-use redevelopment of the 122-acre main assembly plant parcel and the adjacent 13-acre rail yard. It does not include the 22-acre river parcel (“Area C”).

OWNERSHIP AND SALE OF THE SITE

Q: Does the City own the property?

No. Ford owns the 122-acre main assembly plant parcel, and the 22-acre river parcel. In June 2018, Ford selected Ryan Companies as the master developer to the 122-acre main assembly plant parcel. Canadian Pacific Railway still owns the 13-acre rail yard.

Q: What role does the City have in developing the site and who else may be involved?

The adopted Ford Site Master Plan establishes a framework to guide mixed-use redevelopment of the Ford Site. Any changes (amendments) made to the plan must be reviewed by the Saint Paul Planning Commission and approved by the City Council.

Ford (including Ford Land and the Ford Environmental Quality Office) manages environmental testing and remediation as the property owner.

The State of Minnesota provides regulatory oversight of the pollution clean-up and environmental work done on the site.

In June 2018, Ford selected Ryan Companies as the master developer to the 122-acre main assembly plant parcel.

LAND USE

Q: How does the current Ryan Companies’ development proposal align with the City’s adopted Ford Site Master Plan?

Ryan Companies proposed several amendments to the adopted Ford Site Master Plan related to zoning, building standards, parking adjustments, roadway adjustments, stormwater and open space. A majority of these amendments were recommended for approval by Planning and Economic Development staff and the Planning Commission. The Saint Paul City Council adopted amendments to the Ford Site Master Plan on April 10, 2019.

PUBLIC FINANCING

Q: Has Ryan Companies requested any public financing for the redevelopment of the Ford Site?

On February 28, 2019, Ryan Companies submitted an application for public finance to the City’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) for the Ford Site redevelopment. The HRA is comprised of all seven members of the Saint Paul City Council and staffed by the Department of Planning and Economic Development.  All HRA investment decisions are inherently aligned with the City’s goals and values. 

Through its due diligence, the City will ensure that public funds invested in the Ford Site promote the vision of the site as defined in the adopted Ford Site Master Plan.

Q: How much public financing has Ryan Companies requested through its HRA application?

Ryan Companies has requested $58,902,279 for infrastructure costs (including road and utility construction) and $48,140,926 for affordable housing, totaling to $107,043,205 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The application also indicated that Ryan would seek additional public funding that is not part of the HRA request.

Q: What action can the City take on Ryan Companies HRA application?

The City, through an HRA vote, will determine whether any public funding is invested and what form that funding would take. Prior to any decision by the HRA, the City will do a full fiscal and legal evaluation of the application.

Q: What is the timeline for review of Ryan Companies HRA application?

The City is reviewing Ryan Companies’ HRA application and request for public funds to construct infrastructure necessary to support redevelopment of the Ford Site. This thorough evaluation of Ryan Companies’ application ensures that any public funding invested goes to public uses and reflects the City’s values and priorities for the Ford site. The City will complete its due diligence and a thorough evaluation of Ryan Companies’ HRA application, as well as hold a public hearing on any proposed public funding plan, before voting on public funding.

Q: Why did the City give public notice of Ryan Companies HRA application?

HRA policy requires public notice if it receives a complete public finance application for $250,000 or more. Since the Ryan Companies’ HRA application exceeded this amount, the City provided public notice of the application through its Early Notification System (ENS).

Q: Is the complete Ryan Companies HRA application available to the public?

The Minnesota Data Practices Act, and corresponding statutes, designates certain information submitted by a business to the government as ‘nonpublic’. As such, the City is prohibited by state law from making the entire HRA application public. The Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office is reviewing Ryan Companies’ HRA application to determine what information could be made available to the public.

Q: How does Ryan Companies’ HRA application relate to the previously approved Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Plan and Redevelopment Plan?

The City previously adopted a TIF district for the Ford Site to preserve it as a public financing option if it were to choose to use it in the future. The establishment of a TIF district did not assign or earmark any public funds for a developer, and did not determine that TIF would be used.

If TIF funds were to be used on the Ford Site, the City would hold a public hearing and the City’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority and City Council would have to vote to authorize the funds. 

The City is doing its due diligence to thoroughly examine Ryan Companies’ entire HRA application. It will be examining all aspects of the request for public funding to determine what, if any, impact there may be on the City’s budget. Tax increment financing is a redevelopment tool used to spur quality development where it otherwise would not timely occur by capturing the “increment” generated from increased property taxes of the development to finance qualifying costs of the development. 

FORD SITE MASTER PLAN

Q: Under the adopted Ford Site Master Plan, how many housing units can be built on the Ford Site?

Residential units on the future Ford Site would be a mix of ownership and rental, vary in size and price, and target different ages and household types, though much of this will depend on current market conditions at the time of development. The Ford Site Master Plan also includes goals around affordable housing across the site.

At full build-out, under the adopted Ford Site Master Plan, the redevelopment could include between 2,400 and 4,000 residential units and reflect an estimated increase of 4,320 to 7,200 new residents. Note: The 2010 census shows that the average multi-family unit household size in Highland averages 1.8 people, which was used for the estimation of new residents in the redevelopment area.

Q: Will the Ford Site have affordable housing?

The adopted Ford Site Master Plan recognizes the important need for affordable housing in the City, and includes the following affordable housing goals for the Ford Site:

  • 5% of housing units should be affordable to households earning 60% or less of Area Median Income (AMI)
  • 5% of housing units should be affordable to households earning 50% or less of Area Median Income (AMI)
  • 10% of housing units should be affordable to households earning 30% or less of Area Median Income (AMI)

Q: Will there be parks or open space on the Ford Site?

Under the City’s parkland dedication ordinance, the City can legally require up to 9% of the property to be designated as parkland during the platting process (creating new property lines to subdivide the property into smaller parcels), though a developer could decide to build more parkland than required by City ordinance. Additional land can be set aside for stormwater treatment infrastructure (with park-like qualities) and public right-of-way (roads, bike paths and sidewalks) in addition to the 9%. 

Both the adopted Ford Site Master Plan and the current Ryan Companies development proposal include significant new parkland, with both green space and a water feature.

Q: What will happen to the Little League baseball fields?

Per the adopted Ford Site Master Plan, the baseball fields are considered recreation fields and are an allowed use anywhere on the site. Since the baseball fields on the site are currently privately owned by Ford and will be part of the private sale to a developer, the City does not determine whether they stay or not. However, Ryan Companies has currently said that they plan on retaining two of the three baseball fields in their plans for the development of the Ford Site.

Q: How will storm water be managed on the site?

Both the adopted Ford Site Master Plan and the current Ryan Companies development proposal feature a central water feature, serving a dual purpose of stormwater filtration and management which contributes to achieving sustainability goals for the site.

Q: Will the Ford Site be sustainable?

The adopted Ford Site Master Plan advances key elements of sustainability – economic, environmental, and social. It envisions a livable, mixed-use neighborhood that looks to the future with clean technologies and high-quality design for energy, buildings, and infrastructure. The future developed Ford Site will support walking, biking, and transit; and provide jobs, services, housing and activities that every generation can enjoy.

A Roadmap to Sustainability for the Saint Paul Ford Site was completed in 2011, providing goals and strategies to achieve sustainability on the Ford Site. These goals are provided in eleven broad categories, which include: building energy, transportation and public realm network, materials, water and wastewater, solid waste, stormwater and groundwater, soil, vegetation and habitat, recreation and public space, night sky radiation, and urban heat island.

Additionally, the City’s Sustainable Building Policy is intended to improve the environmental effects of buildings being constructed and operated in a sustainable manner.

Q: How much traffic will the Ford Site generate?

The City of Saint Paul hired nationally recognized professional transportation analysis firms Nelson/Nygaard, SRF Consulting and Utile to study 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 ensures a better experience for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike – both in and around the site, particularly along Ford Parkway.

The master developer of the Ford Site will be required to conduct a more detailed transportation study, which will look specifically at how various development scenarios impact transportation access to, from and around the site, and identify tactics to mitigate any concerns. This will take place as part of the Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR), a full environmental impact analysis. The AUAR will be required to be completed and approved by the City before any construction can happen on the Ford Site.

Q: Is additional transit service being considered for the Ford Site?

Yes, enhanced transit service to support the people living on, working at, and visiting the Ford Site is a priority. There is already strong transit service on Ford Parkway, with the A-Line bus rapid transit connecting the site to the Blue and Green light rail lines, as well as multiple bus lines in close proximity to the site. The City will work closely with Metro Transit to look at routing transit service through the Ford Site once redevelopment occurs, connecting it to the area transit network.

Additionally, Cretin Avenue is one of the main north-south roadways in the adopted Master Plan, with space allocated for future enhanced transit service.