Apartment towers may rise beside stadium

$120M project would include a third building with retail, office space

By Jane McClure

Four years after the St. Paul City Council adopted a master plan for redeveloping the blocks surrounding the new Major League Soccer stadium at Snelling Avenue and I-94, Snelling Midway Redevelopment LLC has stepped forward with the first major project on the former Midway Shopping Center site since much of it was cleared to make way for Allianz Field. Dubbed the United Villages at Midway, the proposed development would include two new towers with 243 apartments, 15,780 square feet of retail and office space and 148,470 square feet of parking.

The St. Paul Port Authority’s Credit Committee on April 21 unanimously approved an application for $2 million in grants for pollution cleanup on the site. The Port Authority Board will review the grant request on April 28, and it is expected to be submitted on May 1. If all goes as planned, pollution on the site could be cleaned up this fall.

The new buildings would be located on the east side of Snelling Avenue between Spruce Tree Drive and Shields Avenue, on the site occupied by Big Top Liquors before that business moved to 1544 University Ave. The new buildings would be just west of the Great Lawn that adjoins the north side of Allianz Field.

Dr. Bill McGuire, lead owner of the Minnesota United soccer team, is the co-developer of United Villages at Midway with longtime Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff. The development would consist of two apartment towers of between nine and 18 stories and a three-story building with about 19,000 square feet of retail space and almost 30,000 square feet of co-working office space. The project would span two blocks, with parking beneath both blocks on one level underground. The estimated cost is $90 million for the two towers and $30 million for the three-story building.

The proposed United Villages at Midway with its two towers and adjacent three-story building at right, looking toward the northeast from Snelling Avenue.

The buildings were designed by the Kansas City architectural firm of Populous, which also designed Allianz Field. Mortenson Construction, which led the stadium project, would also lead the work on United Villages. The towers would be built first, and the second block of retail and co-working space would come later.

Port Authority project manager Ava Langston-Kenney presented a report on the pollution cleanup and the recommendation for approval on April 20. “Only public agencies are eligible to apply for these funds, but both publicly and privately owned sites with known or suspected soil or groundwater contamination qualify for them,” Langston-Kenney said. She called the funding “essential” for the redevelopment of the property.


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Outlined in purple above, the site of the proposed United Villages at Midway is located on the east side of Snelling Avenue just northwest of Allianz Field.

The city of St. Paul or the Port Authority can apply for pollution cleanup grants on behalf of the developers. One application for up to $1 million is being made to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). A second application for $500,000 is being made to Ramsey County, with a third application going to the Metropolitan Council.

The 34.5-acre Midway Center “superblock” bounded by Pascal Street and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues was for many years the site of the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company streetcar maintenance garage and storage facility. The site proposed for United Villages is just north of what later became a Metro Transit bus garage. State records indicate that it was polluted by petroleum products. It is likely that soil vapors will also have to be vented.

The master plan for redeveloping the superblock, which was approved by the City Council in 2016, calls for a mix of office, retail, hotel and residential uses. Big Top, Rainbow Foods and Midway Pro Bowl were among the businesses forced out of Midway Shopping Center. Fewer than a dozen businesses remain. 

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