Lexington cluster
The Hopetown Group wants to build a pair of two-story homes on a vacant lot at 855 S. Lexington Pkwy., just west of Albion Avenue.

The Saint Paul Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit on June 10 for a two-unit cluster development on a vacant lot at 855 S. Lexington Pkwy., just west of Albion Avenue. The decision is final unless it is appealed to the City Council.

Developer Tim Helin’s Hopetown Group wants to build a pair of two-story homes on the lot, one behind the other, according to city planner Spencer Johnson. Each house would have two-stall garages. The finished houses would be sold. The homeowners would have a shared maintenance agreement for the property. 

The lot is zoned for single-family housing and was previously occupied by a rental house that was torn down a few years ago. It is in an area of Highland Park that has seen significant redevelopment in recent years, including townhouses and the Lexington Landing senior housing campus.

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With a cluster development, residential properties are placed on a site to provide more open space. The irregularly shaped, 12,116-square-foot site has 67.9 feet of frontage along Lexington. The Planning Commission is allowing that instead of the minimum frontage of 80 feet.

“This would allow us to put two housing units on a property that would otherwise only have one,” Johnson said. According to him, the project makes good use of the deep lot.

“This would allow us to put two housing units on a property that would otherwise only have one,” Johnson said. According to him, the project makes good use of the deep lot.

Other than the front footage, the application meets all requirements for a conditional use permit and a cluster development, Johnson said. The requirements include building placement on a lot, lot coverage, setbacks, design, consistency with the city’s comprehensive plan and compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.

One challenge the site presents is its slope, which averages 15.7 percent. Johnson said additional standards must be met for lots with slopes greater than 12 percent.

Helin has submitted a grading plan for the houses. The plan calls for removing nearly all of the trees on the lot, which neighbors have raised concerns about. Details about grading will be addressed during the upcoming site plan review.

Neighbor Olivia Geigle, who lives nearby, said that while she supports the development, she is concerned about slope disturbance and water runoff. With other nearby projects along the base of the bluff, there have been problems with mud slides when vegetation is removed and sites are graded.

— Jane McClure

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