Midway Center is no more. A demolition permit for what remained of the 1950s-era shopping center was issued on September 16, and a wrecking crew swung into action on September 20, reducing the building to rubble later that week. Cleanup of the property is expected to continue this fall. What happens to the property after that is still up in the air.
 
The Saint Paul City Council ordered the demolition in August following a legislative hearing at which a representative of the property owner indicated that the shopping center would be replaced with parking.
Midway Center
Midway Shopping Center in better days. Photo by Brad Stauffer
 
Parking is considered to be a short-term use, and members of the Union Park District Council (UPDC) land use committee want to make sure it does not become permanent.

UPDC land use committee members want to see more than parking on the site. “Once something is approved, it’s hard to replace,” said committee member Roger Meyer. “Parking lots have a way of becoming permanent.”

At a meeting on September 20, the UPDC committee reiterated its concerns about the future of the land surrounding the Allianz Field Major League Soccer stadium at Snelling and Saint Anthony avenues. Much of Midway Center was torn down several years ago to make way for the stadium. The portion on the southwest corner of University Avenue and Pascal Street was all that remained in May 2020 when several of the shops were looted and set ablaze in the civil unrest after George Floyd’s murder.
 
The City Council approved a master plan five years ago to redevelop the area bounded by Saint Anthony, Snelling, University and Pascal with new housing, hotels, retail stores and office space. A tax increment financing district to help finance the redevelopment was approved by the City Council in August. However, the lack of progress on the redevelopment has frustrated members of the UPDC and Hamline-Midway Coalition.
 
UPDC land use committee members want to see more than parking on the site. “Once something is approved, it’s hard to replace,” said committee member Roger Meyer. “Parking lots have a way of becoming permanent.”
 
In a letter to the City Council, the UPDC committee recommended that the parking lot be temporary. To discourage its permanence, the committee asked that the parking lot be given a gravel rather than a paved surface. The committee requested annual updates from the property owner on the need for the parking lot. It also asked that the property owner assign a maintenance manager who can be contacted if any problems arise.
 
The Midway Center property is owned by RK Midway Shopping Center LLC of New York. Snelling-Midway Redevelopment LLC holds the lease. Bill McGuire, managing owner of the Minnesota United professional soccer team, also manages Snelling-Midway Redevelopment LLC.

— Jane McClure

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