The Highland Bridge development on the 122-acre site of Ford Motor Company’s former assembly plant will have about 90 percent of its first-phase utilities and major earthwork completed by the end of this month. And people can expect to see much more visible progress in the year ahead, according to Nick Koch, construction project executive for master developer Ryan Companies.

Koch was among those who presented an update on the project at a virtual forum on October 28. While questions from prospective Highland Bridge homeowners dominated the discussion, many questions were also asked about the construction schedule.

highland bridge
A conceptual image of the Presbyterian Homes senior housing project looking northwest from the central water feature at Highland Bridge.

Earthwork and the initial development of parks and other open spaces have been ongoing at the site for months. The first phase of street construction is expected to run from March to early fall 2021. The initial streets include extensions of Mount Curve Boulevard, and Cretin, Montreal and Bohland avenues as well as some secondary streets. All streets are expected to be built by 2026.

Parks and open spaces are expected to be completed in late fall 2021, along with the remaining phase one infrastructure.

Utilities on the site will include 2.75 miles of water mains, 2.2 miles of sanitary sewers and 3.75 miles of storm sewers. A large underground system is also being prepared to collect and clean stormwater. Koch said the intent is to reduce runoff by 98 percent.

One huge project now underway is the construction of a massive retaining wall around a half-mile long central water feature. Work is also underway at the water feature’s south end to open up an underground creek leading to Hidden Falls Park.

Yet another key piece of infrastructure is what will be the largest urban solar array in the Twin Cities, making 100 percent of the development’s electricity available from renewable and carbon-free sources. The site is also expected to have at least 100 electric vehicle charging stations, buildings designed to use less water, and other sustainability measures.

One huge project now underway is the construction of a massive retaining wall around a half-mile long central water feature. Work is also underway at the water feature’s south end to open up an underground creek leading to Hidden Falls Park.

The timeline for the construction of the first buildings at Highland Bridge were reviewed on October 28 by Maureen Michalski, Ryan’s vice president for development.

  • The first building going up is a five-story, mixed-use project by Ryan and Weidner Apartment Homes at the southeast corner of Ford Parkway and Cretin Avenue. It will include 230 apartments, two levels of parking, and a new Lunds & Byerlys supermarket in a 56,000-square foot space. Construction will start this winter, with apartment leasing anticipated in late 2021.
  • Pulte Homes will start work this winter on 325 rowhouses on the west side of the manmade stream that will run north and south through the site. Three- and four-story rowhouse options will be offered, with model homes expected to open next summer.
  • Presbyterian Homes has just started planning for the construction of a pair of 65-foot-tall buildings for senior housing on the two blocks bounded by a civic plaza and Hillcrest, Woodlawn and Bohland avenues. The building will include 220 independent units, 40 assisted-living units and 40 memory care units. Construction is expected to start by next summer and be completed in 2023.
  • CommonBond Communities has no timeline yet on its plans for a five-story, 60-unit apartment building for low-income seniors at 830 S. Cretin Ave. Michalski said construction is dependent on when the project gets its financing in place.
  • Project for Pride in Living is planning two buildings of affordable housing southwest of Ford Parkway and Mount Curve Boulevard. One would have 75 “workforce” apartments and the other would have 60 units for women enrolled in the Emma Norton Services supportive housing program. 

Information on condominium options will be available next summer.

At some point within the next year, Ryan also hopes to announce the next steps for the lots along Mississippi River Boulevard, which will accommodate single-family to six-unit dwellings.

Ryan is working with the commercial real estate firm CBRE on the buildings that will house retail shops. Those structures also should start to take shape next year.

— Jane McClure


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