Interest has been strong in the owner-occupied housing planned at the Highland Bridge development in Highland Park. The sale of the first 22 rowhouses being built by Pulte Homes is scheduled for January 18-20.

But with bidding on the units starting at close to double the prices announced 18 months ago, many prospective homeowners have come to realize that they are already out of the running.
 
 
 
Hilghland Bridge rowhouses
From the Pulte Homes website, an artist’s rendering of some of the rowhouses planned for the Highland Bridge development in Highland Park.

The rowhouses are being built west of Highland Bridge’s central water feature—a man-made stream and adjoining park running north and south through the 122-acre site. Four different rowhouse models are up for bid in the January sale with prices starting between $593,990 and $760,990, according to the Highland Bridge and Pulte websites. Depending on how the bidding goes, the sale prices could be much higher.

“Who is middle class who can afford that?” Michelle Williams asked. “I’ve been waiting for housing options at Highland Bridge for a long time, and I feel a sense of betrayal. It feels as if the only housing options (there) are for the very rich or the very poor.”

The rowhouse units range from 1,935 to 2,322 square feet. Prospective buyers have been meeting with Highland Bridge sales representative to review all of the options available before submitting their bids. 

   

“We’ve witnessed first-hand the intensity of intrigue in this project,” said P.J. Cushing, director of marketing for Pulte Group’s Minnesota division. “Over the last 18 months, we’ve had thousands of people sign up to receive updates, and the vast majority have been highly engaged.”

Prospective buyers will not have to wait long to learn if their bids have been accepted. Winners will be notified by the end of the day on January 22, Cushing said. The first residents could move in as early as this summer.

Former Highland Park resident Michelle Williams was among those who were hoping to bid on a rowhouse. In mid-2020, Highland Bridge master developer Ryan Companies indicated that the rowhouses would sell in the $300,000 range. Williams had postponed buying a new home in anticipation of buying a rowhouse at Highland Bridge. However, even the starting prices are beyond her reach, she said.

 

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“Who is middle class who can afford that?” Williams asked. “I’ve been waiting for housing options at Highland Bridge for a long time, and I feel a sense of betrayal. It feels as if the only housing options (there) are for the very rich or the very poor.”

A reflection of the local housing market

The high prices of the rowhouses and the single-family homes planned for Highland Bridge are believed to reflect the current real estate market in the Twin Cities and the high demand for housing options that are not widely available in Saint Paul.

City Council member Chris Tolbert, whose Ward 3 includes Highland Bridge, said he has heard concerns about the rowhouse prices. However, he added, there has been strong interest in the rowhouses ever since the master plan was released a few years ago.

The 34 single-family lots at Highland Bridge also attracted great interest when their availability was first announced in early 2021. Twenty of the lots are shown on the Highland Bridge website. Their prices range from $475,000 to $1.15 million. The zoning allows for one to six dwellings to be built on each of the lots. The homes are expected to cost between $1.3 million and $3 million.

Ten of the 34 single-family lots were reserved as of mid-March 2021. The sales have closed on two of the lots and construction is expected later this year. Two additional lot closings are in the works, according to Jim Seabold of Coldwell Banker Burnet, which is handling the sale of the single-family lots along Mississippi River Boulevard.

Ryan Companies has postponed the construction of some mixed-use commercial-residential and multi-family residential buildings following last November’s passage of Saint Paul’s new rent control ordinance. Other Highand Bridge projects are moving forward.

Construction of CommonBond’s and Project for Pride in Living’s new income-restricted apartment buildings is scheduled to begin in late spring. Weidner Apartment Homes’ market-rate units above the new Lunds & Byerlys grocery store under construction at Ford Parkway and Cretin Avenue are expected to be advertised for lease in the spring.

— Jane McClure

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