Dirt should start flying again at the former Midway Shopping Center as work continues on the infrastructure for anticipated development around Allianz Field. The Saint Paul City Council, acting as the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, approved an additional $5 million in financing for the work on April 13.

Saint Paul’s Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) Committee reviewed the changes on April 11 with city treasurer Mike Solomon. City Council and CIB Committee members said they are eager to see development start around Allianz Field. “It seems like everything is just sitting there,” said CIB Committee member Jack Fei.

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The Saint Paul City Council approved another $5 million in spending for infrastructure to support the long-awaited redevelopment of the former Midway Shopping Center around the new Allianz Field. The costs will be shared by the city and Minnesota United Soccer Club Holdings, the developer of the Major League Soccer stadium.

The development site is bounded by Pascal Street and University, Snelling and Saint Anthony avenues. A McDonald’s restaurant and a small multi-tenant retail building are the only remaining occupants of the block besides the stadium.

A portion of Midway Center was demolished to make way for Allianz Field. The remaining portion of the strip mall and a stand-alone retail building were extensively damaged in the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, and those buildings were torn down last year. 

The short-term plan is to use the vacant property along Pascal Street for additional stadium parking. The long-term plan is to redevelop the property with a mix of commercial and residential uses. A master plan for mixed-use development was approved by the City Council six years ago. Any future changes to the master plan would have to go back to the City Council for approval.

Stadium site infrastructure, remediation and other costs initially totaled $16.1 million. That amount was increased to $18.4 million to provide a more extensive stormwater management system…. However, the total cost of the design and construction of the infrastructure came in at almost $5.5 million more than originally budgeted.

The agreements approved on April 13 build on several past agreements going back to 2015 and the development of the soccer stadium. The development agreement between the city and Minnesota United Soccer Club (MUSC) Holdings called for the city to finance site remediation and such infrastructure as streets, sidewalks, lighting, and storm and septic sewers. MUSC paid for and built the stadium. The city and MUSC worked together on various street improvements, including extensions of Asbury Street, Spruce Tree Drive, Shields Avenue and Simpson Street. 

Stadium site infrastructure, remediation and other costs initially totaled $16.1 million. That amount was increased to $18.4 million to provide a more extensive stormwater management system. The additional $2.3 million came through tax increment financing (TIF) and the HRA’s Loan Enterprise Fund. However, the total cost of the design and construction of the infrastructure came in at almost $5.5 million more than originally budgeted.

The city is contributing $2 million to defray those additional costs in accordance with agreements with MUSC Holdings and its subsidiary, Minnesota United Soccer Club LLC. The city’s contribution is coming from transfers of TIF balances and sewer funds. MUSC is covering the difference.

The City Council, acting as the HRA Board, also approved changes to the lease agreement at Spruce Tree Center’s parking ramp so that it can continue to be used by patrons of Allianz Field.

In November 2019 the HRA authorized the sale of the ramp to Spruce Tree Ramp LLC. The parking ramp license agreement gave the HRA the right to use up to 200 parking spaces in conjunction with certain events at Allianz Field. 

The HRA on April 13 agreed to assign its rights under the parking license agreement to Minnesota United. Now the team will manage the parking for Allianz Field events, not the city.

— Jane McClure

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