Reporting Bill Hudson
ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Under the noontime sun, St. Paul city and business leaders snipped the ribbon on a growing revival. The city is in the midst of a building boom and the latest example is the Lofts at Farmer’s Market.
“To build something like this and get rid of that ugly hole in the ground,” said Cecile Bedor, St. Paul’s director of planning and development.
The clock was ticking on a vacant lot at 260 East 5th Street in the Lowertown neighborhood. That’s when developers and the city combined forces to bring the market-rate apartment project to fruition. The 58-unit complex becomes another notch in the city’s “Rebuild St. Paul” initiative.
The $13 million housing project was financed largely by Build America federal bonds and is already fully leased.
“I think if you demonstrate that these are great places to live you build buildings, which have immediately leased out 100 percent. That starts other projects and other interest from developers and suddenly the wheels keep spinning,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
The city’s development traction is coming from a wide range of projects, including the nearly $1 billion Central Corridor light rail line. Although the lengthy and disruptive construction process has contributed to a number of business relocations and closures, it is also attracting new development along its path – namely, condominium and apartment buildings.
Renovation of the historic Union Depot in downtown St. Paul will serve as the rail and transit hub. And a new $54 million ballpark at the Farmers Market for the St. Paul Saints will help draw more people like Hillary Keller and her dog Amelia to live downtown.
“I like the walkability, things nearby the neighborhood,” said Keller.
More people moving into downtown means that more restaurants, attractions and nightlife are required. A major expansion at the popular Cossettas Italian restaurant near Kellogg and West 7th should help grow customers for other businesses as well.
Pat Boemer’s Patrick McGovern’s Pub is across the street from Cossettas and he is excited to see the $10 million expansion take shape.
“With Moe opening his burger place and Cossettas new addition, it’s really starting to bring people to the area and it’s fantastic for everybody because everybody’s got different fare,” said Boemer.
The city hopes to finalize funding on the Penfield project, which will include a downtown Lund’s grocery store. They’re also hoping that a new Saint’s ballpark will put some 400,000 people downtown from spring through fall — nearly what the Wild draw over the winter months.