By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul’s city council will soon vote on what to do with the 122 acres site where the Ford Plant used to sit, but the city’s plan has neighbors at odds with each other over how the site should be redeveloped.

While most agree with the plan to include housing, retail, green space and shops, but not all are happy with the density of the proposed project.

Dueling lawn signs in yards across the Highland Park and Mac-Groveland neighborhoods in St. Paul shows a difference of opinion in how the Old Ford Plant site should be developed.

“What the city has proposed is far too dense, in terms of the population, that it’s proposing to put on a relatively small area,” Charles Hathaway said.

The group “Neighborhoods for a Livable St. Paul” says to put more than 7,000 people in a space less than point 2 square miles will impact the quality of life of the rest of the community.

“The traffic is truly a concern,” Hathaway said.

But the group, Sustain Ward 3 likes the plan it says hits all three of its core values of community, fiscal and environmental sustainability.

“Fiscal sustainability, because we have a huge hole in our budget and we need that increased tax base,” Brandon Long said. “Denser communities are more walkable, with transit connection, and that’s the environmental piece. And community sustainability — this is the equity piece that I think gets lost. Sometimes we see a lot of all are welcome in the neighborhood and we want to make sure all are welcome here.”

Ward 3 City councilman Chris Tolbert is the man in the middle of this fight.

“There are very strong views in the neighborhood,” he said. “As Winston Churchill says, ‘It’s not the end, but the end of the beginning,’ and we are just setting that framework and putting forth that vision for a developer to work within.”

Tolbert believes pushing forward now will keep the city of St. Paul in the driver’s seat for the development of this site. St. Paul’s City Council will hear from the public next week and make a decision the following week on rezoning the site.


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