Rendering of a building proposed to be built at 485 S. Snelling

Saint Paul development roundup – January 2021

At Sustain Saint Paul, a central part of our mission is to champion abundant housing. Saint Paul needs more housing of all types: affordable and market rate, homes to own and to rent, homes for large households and small ones, homes suitable for all ages and abilities. More homes per neighborhood means more neighbors: more customers for local shops and restaurants, more eyes on the street to aid in community public safety, more tax revenue to keep our streets in good repair and our schools and libraries funded. And, when done right, more homes means fewer cars, less pollution to our air, less wear and tear on our roads, fewer pedestrian fatalities, and happier, healthier people. In short, we need more housing to become a more sustainable city.

As we advocate to change city policies that make it difficult and expensive to build abundant and affordable homes in Saint Paul, we need your help to make sure that proposed housing development projects are approved in our city. Many in Saint Paul object to these projects, out of fear that they will “ruin” their neighborhoods. Our elected leaders need to hear from those of us who believe our neighborhoods will actually benefit from new housing.

485 S. Snelling Avenue

Ward 3, Council Member Chris Tolbert

At the current site of a gas station at the corner of Snelling and Randolph Avenues (where the Macalester-Groveland and Highland neighborhoods meet), a developer has proposed to build a six-story apartment building that would add 115 new homes to the neighborhood. The site is located along a high-frequency transit corridor, the A-Line Bus Rapid Transit route, with a transit stop located across the street. 

One drawback of this proposal are that it includes no ground-level space for commercial tenants (only a leasing office and amenities for residents). Another is that it proposes approximately one underground parking space per apartment– an absurdly high amount, considering its location along a major transit route, and the fact that building so much parking is likely to inflate the cost of the project and the rents needed to cover them. Nevertheless, we support this project: 115 homes are a far better use of this land than a gas station.

1074-1096 James Avenue

Ward 3, Council Member Chris Tolbert

A five-story apartment building is proposed for the southeast corner of James Avenue and Lexington Parkway, in the southeastern part of the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood. The site is within blocks of two bus routes, the Jefferson Avenue bikeway, a grocery store, and many local shops and restaurants. The building would add 93 homes to the neighborhood, on a lot previously occupied by only two single-family homes. This project would be a great addition to the neighborhood. 

411-417 Lexington Parkway

Ward 1, Council Member Dai Thao

Just two miles north of the James-and-Lexington site, a Minneapolis company proposes to build a six-story building which would supply 288 new homes and ground-level commercial space to a large vacant lot along Lexington Parkway. This project would be an excellent use for the site, which is just steps away from a station on Saint Paul’s most important transit route, the Green Line light rail. Importantly, the developer proposes to offer “blended affordability” in the building, with units available for rent at 60% of the Area Median Income. When Alatus previously proposed to build at this site in 2019, many neighbors voiced concerns that the new construction would cause rents to rise for vulnerable renters elsewhere in the neighborhood.

2063 Marshall Avenue

Ward 4, Council Member Mitra Jalali

At the northwest corner of Cleveland and Marshall Avenues in the Merriam Park neighborhood, a developer proposes to replace a rental house and a duplex with a five-story mixed-use building. It would add 58 new homes to the neighborhood, at an intersection which will soon include a transit stop for the planned aBRT B-Line high frequency bus route. Additionally, the building would provide ground-level commercial space to enhance a neighborhood commercial node. 

Take action

Not sure what to say to your council member? Here are some ideas:

  • All four of these projects are consistent with the goals and strategies of Saint Paul’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan and the Climate Action Resilience Plan.
  • All four of the sites for these proposed projects are at or near transit corridors and/or high-quality bicycle routes, and walkable neighborhood commercial nodes: they are places where people could manage to live, shop, and get around without a car.
  • These projects will increase the amount of tax revenue the city collects from the lots they occupy, and helps fund critical infrastructure maintenance and municipal services.
  • Increasing the number of housing units in Saint Paul helps decrease the upward pressure on rents and home prices, and helps keep the city affordable.