Three-bedroom, 2.5-bath rowhouses are in the works at Highland Bridge

The Highland District Council (HDC) Community Development Committee got a peek on July 21 at plans for the 320 rowhouses proposed for a 15-block area at Highland Bridge, the 122-acre redevelopment that is in the works for Ford Motor Company’s former assembly plant in Highland Park.

Pulte Homes is developing the three-story rowhouses. The city’s subdivision review for the project got underway on July 21, and the site plan review and permit requests will follow in the weeks ahead. The project does not appear to require any zoning changes or variances. Pulte Homes has been working with master developer Ryan Companies on the proposed rowhouses for about two years.

The three-story rowhouses will be located on the west side of the central water feature at Highland Bridge.

Paul Hoyer of Pulte Homes said the developer has received many inquiries about the rowhouses. They would range in size from 1,900 to 3,000 square feet and in price from the high $300,000s to the $500,000s. The rowhouses would be built just to the west of Highland Bridge’s central water feature. They would have three bedrooms, 21/2 bathrooms and two-stall garages. Some units would have rooftop terraces with views of the Mississippi River and the central water feature.

Work on the model rowhouses will begin later this year with completion in January or February 2021. Construction of the first four blocks of rowhouses will follow in the summer or fall of 2021. The plan is to build all of the rowhouses in a three- to five-year period, working from north to south.

All of the rowhouse buildings will be certified LEED silver for energy efficiency. Some of the units will be all-electric. The site of the buildings will be fully landscaped with boulevard trees and about 10 to 12 feet of green space. Stormwater will be handled through an underground system and filtered before entering the central water feature. Yard work, snow removal and exterior maintenance will be handled through a homeowners’ association.

Six of the 320 rowhouses will be affordable to households making a fraction of the Twin Cities area’s median income. Habitat for Humanity and future residents will provide some of the labor on the building that will house the six affordable rowhouses.

Pulte Homes is a subsidiary of Atlanta-based PulteGroup. It is the third largest home builder in the United States.

City, county to coordinate water reservoir removal, arena upgrade

Saint Paul Regional Water Services and the Ramsey County Department of Parks and Recreation will coordinate the demolition of Highland Park’s decommissioned southern water reservoir and the construction of a new parking lot for the adjacent Charles M. Schulz-Highland Arena, the Highland District Council (HDC) Community Development Committee was told on July 21. 

Committee members want to make sure that the impacts of the projects are communicated to neighbors. They also want water utility and county officials to consider traffic safety issues at the ice arena near Ford Parkway and Snelling Avenue. One idea HDC members raised is creating a separate access street to the arena, possibly at Bohland or Hillcrest avenues. However, building a new stretch of street with an outlet onto Snelling would generate additional expense and approvals, since Snelling is a state highway.

Demolition of the 18-million-gallon reservoir, which was built in 1926 but has not been used for more than five years, is set to begin this construction season. The 4.3-acre site is expected to eventually be converted to fields for youth soccer and other sports. The water utility also is discussing with master developer Ryan Companies using dirt and crushed concrete from the reservoir’s demolition as fill for development of the Highland Bridge project on the former Ford site.

Once the reservoir is demolished, the county can launch a project to reconstruct and expand the arena parking lot and correct longstanding drainage problems. The project has been on the drawing board since 2016, said Ryan Ries, director of facilities and sustainability for the county.

County officials hope to award a contract for the parking lot work in the weeks ahead. Reconstruction of the lot is expected to start in 2021 and be completed by the following winter. Upgraded lighting and landscaping are part of the project, which would be paid for with county bonds—$275,000 for design in 2020 and $1.9 million for construction in 2021.

Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is eyeing the old reservoir site for soccer fields. A lease with the water utility is now in the works.

BZA approves sign variances for Waterford Bay at Island Station

Waterford Bay, a new 242-unit apartment building now under construction at 380 Randolph Ave., can have larger signs as the result of several variances approved on July 27 by the Saint Paul Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

Imaginality Designs LLC sought the variances to allow a freestanding sign and a wall sign on the sloping, 9.6-acre property that was once home to the Island Station power plant along the Mississippi River. Efforts to save the 1920s-era structure fell short several years ago. The plant and its 289-foot smokestack were demolished in 2014.

Illinois-based Stoneleigh Companies is now developing the site. Construction on the $6 million project began earlier this year.

For multifamily structures on parcels larger than 25,000 square feet, two identification signs on each street frontage are allowed. The total amount of signage on each frontage is limited to 24 square feet. A total of 75 square feet is proposed on one side of the building.

Signs also cannot project higher than 30 feet above grade. The top of the wall sign will be at 45 feet. The freestanding sign will be located 6 feet away from the front property line and is limited to a height of 5 feet. An 8-foot sign is proposed.

City staff recommended approval of the variances, citing the large lot size, the property’s irregular shape, the amount of open space around the development, trees along Randolph and the site’s slope toward the river.

The West Seventh/Fort Road Federation did not take a position on the variances and no neighbors objected.

Candidates file in Mendota Hts.

Voters will be asked to fill the seats for Mendota Heights mayor and two council members during the November 3 general election. The terms are two years for the mayor and four years for the council.

Candidates must file an affidavit of candidacy by August 11 with the city clerk at Mendota Heights City Hall, 1101 Victoria Curve. The filing fee is $5. For more information, visit mendota-heights.com/elections.

News Briefs were compiled by Jane McClure and John Wadell.

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