Three minor amendments regarding lighting standards, fence materials and street-level uses for new structures have been approved for the city of Saint Paul’s master plan for the Highland Bridge development in Highland Park. The amendments were given the green light on September 7 by staff from the city’s Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Planning and Economic Development departments following a review by the Saint Paul Planning Commission’s Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee.
The amendments will accommodate the University of Saint Thomas’ plan to construct new baseball and softball fields, a parking ramp and practice facilities on a former rail yard at the southeastern corner of the 122-acre Highland Bridge site.
UST has been working for the past several months with Highland Bridge master developer Ryan Companies on its plans for the sports facilities. The 13-acre rail yard is owned by Canadian Pacific Railway, but Ryan has the property under contract. Initially, five major and three minor amendments to the master plan were being eyed for the sports complex. However, that was before UST decided to remove the hockey arena from the site plan.
One of the amendments will allow lighting standards of up to 90 feet tall for the baseball and softball fields. The master plan for that area of Highland Bridge currently limits the height of lighting standards to 20 feet. However, any new lighting must be directed away from adjacent residential areas to meet the requirements of the master plan. According to Maureen Michalski of Ryan Companies, the new lighting will be directed onto the ballfields and will not shine all night.
A second amendment will allow chain link fences to be installed for the ballfields. Chain link is not currently allowed as a permanent fence material at Highland Bridge.
The third amendment will remove the requirement that all new structures have active uses at street level, such as a retail store. New retail uses would not be practical for the parking ramp that UST is planning, Michalski said. Grade changes in the area where the ramp will be built are another factor. Instead of retail, a plaza and landscaping are planned for the parking ramp’s street frontage.
The master plan for Highland Bridge was adopted in 2017 and amended in 2019. Major plan amendments and zoning changes must be approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. Minor amendments may be approved by city staff.
— Jane McClure
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