ST. PAUL - Highland Park residents are divided. And the division was on display Friday morning during a planning commission hearing.
Residents are at odds over the city’s proposal to redevelop the former Ford plant site.
Currently, the site is zoned industrial. The city wants to zone the site for mixed-use. It would be split into six districts.
The plan proposes residential housing, parks, open space plus retail and offices. Many of the new buildings will use solar power.
You can call it a city within a city.
“I oppose the plan. I imagine myself walking as I do daily crossing and going into the new development, confronted by blocks and blocks of ten story buildings at Cleveland avenue. It is already one of the busiest intersections in St. Paul,” one woman told commissioners. “It is already tough for pedestrians trying to cross the street.”
The city’s plan could create up to 1,500 jobs. It would also create what the city calls a transportation network.
“It is excessive and reckless, this density plan. It only helps Ford’s pockets, the city’s pockets and the future developer’s pockets,” one opponent said.
A millennial who told the planning commission he lives in an apartment building nearby offered strong support.
“I believe it is in line with our values. Minnesota has a problem attracting and retaining young people. For young people, transit and density is what defines livability,” he said.
Commissioners say the plan would fit within the existing neighborhood.
A video on the city’s website outlines how the city plans to update the grid system.
For now, this plan is just a guide. The redevelopment could take up to 15 years. The planning commission will vote on the proposal next month.