HourCar will be allowed to operate a pair of four-space car-sharing hubs at the Highland Bridge development following a minor amendment to the Ford site’s master plan. One hub will be on Cretin Avenue and the second on a street still to be determined.

Ford site master developer Ryan Companies is seeking minor and major amendments to the master plan, which was originally adopted in 2017. Minor amendments can be made by city staff, while major ones must go through the Planning Commission and City Council.

evie HourCar
HourCar operates the Evie Carshare program that features electric Chevy Bolts.

The Planning Commission and Highland District Council recently heard updates on the master plan amendments. The one for the car-sharing hubs was released on February 17 and made it through a 10-day
period without an appeal.

Car-sharing previously assigned to parking lots, ramps

The master plan originally called for car-sharing vehicles at Highland Bridge to be located within private parking lots or ramps. The number of spaces were to be set by the number of dwellings in residential buildings or number of parking spaces in commercial lots and ramps.

Car-sharing spaces can still be provided in private parking lots, said city planner Spencer Miller-Johnson. However, the amended plan now allows the car-share vehicles to also be parked on public streets.

On-street hubs believed to offer more public access

Miller-Johnson said HourCar and Ryan believe that having the spaces on a street provides more public access. Planning Commission chairman Luis Rangel Morales said that had to be weighed against the loss of street parking spots.

The change ends what had become a conundrum for the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Almost every project at Highland Bridge has gone to the BZA for a variance from the car-sharing requirement, much to the board’s annoyance.

Ryan Companies wanted condition removed

Ryan officials have sought to have the car-sharing requirement removed since 2018. Instead they want to work with HourCar and Xcel Energy on car-sharing hubs for the entire site. HourCar operates the Evie program that features electric Chevy Bolts, while Xcel operates charging stations.

When the master plan was first approved, Saint Paul had three car-sharing vendors as possible candidates for the Ford site. Previous programs allowed users to pick up a car at a designated location or use a computer app to find where a previous user may have left a car.

By 2018 HourCar was the only candidate left for car-sharing at Highland Bridge. The amendment to the master plan allows HourCar to use its current business model of creating vehicle hubs rather than scattered sites.

— Jane McClure


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