Ramsey County poised to commit $26M to revive downtown St. Paul waterfront development – Twin Cities

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With a key vote next week, the Ramsey County Board is poised to revive plans for an $800 million housing, office and commercial development overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. The next step will be finding state matching funds for a nine-acre public park.

Ramsey County selected AECOM four years ago among 10 developers interested in redeveloping a lengthy section of Kellogg Boulevard previously occupied by Ramsey County’s Government Center West complex and the former adult detention center. The Los Angeles-based developer has pitched four towers hosting residences and commerce.

Despite repeated requests from the county for state bond funding, the RiversEdge project hasn’t seen much in the way of visible progress since 2018. On Tuesday, the seven-member county board will vote on whether to approve a new preliminary development agreement with AECOM, as well as a $26 million commitment from the county toward the nine-acre park.

“We’re one of the last major river cities to activate the river,” said Ramsey County Board Chair Trista MatasCastillo, noting the park terrace will create additional acreage over Shepard Road and the railroad tracks, much like a split-level home. “We’re going to take a five-acre site and create a nine-acre development.”

The county board will seek another $26 million in bond funding from the state, which would help fund land acquisition, design, furnishing and construction while likely attracting private dollars.

Undated courtesy image, circa July 2019, of a proposed Riversedge development along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. (Courtesy of AECOM)

In a written statement, county officials said the urban park would be constructed along Kellogg Boulevard and over Shepard Road and the adjacent railway, extending from downtown St. Paul directly to the river. Trails would connect people to the Mississippi River, downtown St. Paul and other regional trail systems.

Park construction would precede private development. County officials predict that an infusion of housing, Class A office space, street-level retail and entertainment in RiversEdge could yield some $15 million annually in property tax revenue alone.

MatasCastillo called the Park at RiversEdge “the catalyst for the entire riverfront development” and “ensures that the community has access to the river first.”

“Essentially what we’re doing is putting our financial commitment on the table,” MatasCastillo said Thursday, “and moving that ahead so that we can move as quickly as possible, and signal to the Legislature and to the developers that we’re serious about this project and have confidence in it.”

The Park at RiversEdge would be a central component of St. Paul’s proposed River Balcony project, a 1.5-mile promenade overlooking the river.

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