Residents of Lexington Landing worry about speeding vehicles and pedestrian safety when crossing the rerouted section of Lexington Parkway that divides the two halves of the senior apartment complex. They are asking for safety improvements at the site, such as a raised crosswalk or even a skyway between the development’s two buildings.

The Highland District Council’s Transportation Committee heard those requests on January 17. It is asking Lexington Landing developer J.A. Wedum Foundation and the Ramsey County and Saint Paul public works departments to look at the situation and bring back solutions.

“There’s no easy way at all for people to get across the street,” said Lexington Landing resident Vera Wenzel, one of several people who attended the meeting either in person or virtually.

She and other residents worry about crossing Lexington at West Seventh and Albion streets to access services in the two buildings, as well as the prospect of people trying to make mid-block crossings.

Lexington Landing
The first phase of the Lexington Landing senior living complex when it opened in December 2020. Photo by Brad Stauffer

Lexington rerouted through site

The irony is that by solving one longtime problem, another may have been created. Lexington Landing is on what used to be the 5-acre Riverside School site. The Saint Paul Public Schools sold the property to the Wedum Foundation and the school was torn down in August 2017.

Lexington was rerouted through the site as a means of dealing with the longstanding traffic hazards at the old West Seventh-Montreal-Lexington intersection. It was a change sought by the HDC.

The south end of Lexington was turned into a cul-de-sac and the parkway was rerouted between the two sides of the development site to cross West Seventh. The rerouted Lexington will eventually connect to Shepard Road via Elway Street. The connection was to be completed in 2022, but was pushed to this construction season.

 

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“It was a challenging intersection to the south,” said developer Scott Black. He called the change to the development plans to reroute Lexington a “gut punch,” but said it was done to help address the traffic hazards at the old intersection.

A look at how the two Lexington Landing buildings are located on the triangular plot, with the rerouted Lexington Parkway between them.

The two building phases

The first phase of Lexington Landing, a five-story building, opened in December 2020 on the southern end of the site with about 154 independent living, assisted living and memory care units.

The second phase is a four-story building on the northern end of the site with about 90 independent living units for those 55 and older. It won city approval in 2021 and it expected to open this year.

“We want the buildings to operate as a campus,” Black said. Some of the amenities within the two buildings include a bistro, commercial kitchen, barber shop, beauty parlor, fitness center, gym and pickleball courts.

Issues at the intersection

Neighbors have complained that motorists speed up and down Lexington, including between the two apartment buildings, and that there are traffic backups at the Lexington and West Seventh intersection. They also said turning vehicles at the intersection create hazards for pedestrians.

Committee member Mark Triola lives in the area and drives Lexington and West Seventh daily. He said speeding vehicles have ended up in his yard.

“Vehicles back up and people want to jump the stop light” at Lexington and West Seventh, Triola said.

“It’s an interesting intersection,” said Nick Fischer, project manager for Ramsey County Public Works. “It was built by the county, it was timed by the city and it’s in the state right of way.”

Ramsey County has discussed changing traffic signal timing with the city, but was told that would mean changing it for all of the other signals along West Seventh.

Tunnel idea dropped, skyway could be considered

Committee members and residents discussed options for Lexington Landing at length. Building a tunnel beneath Lexington was explored, but dropped due to costs and underlying bedrock, Fischer said.

Black said the developers were originally told a skyway could not be allowed over a county road, but Fischer said the county could look at the idea. While a skyway would help Lexington Landing residents, Black said it would not improve traffic safety for everyone who lives, works or does business in the neighborhood.

— Jane McClure

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