ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A historic landmark along the Mississippi River in St. Paul is bridging the past to the future — quite literally.
For nearly a century, the St. Paul Ford Assembly Plant rolled out everything from the Model T to Ranger pickup trucks.
Now, developers are shifting gears to transform the Capitol City.
What do you do with a 122-acre clean slate? It’s a question that took 10 years to answer.
“This last year has really been the vertical development, which is what you’re starting to see now and people are taking notice of,” said Maureen Michalski, Ryan Companies vice president of real estate development.
Highland Bridge is the name of the wide-ranging project going in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood, where the Ford Motor Company had an assembly plant for more than 80 years. It produced its last car in 2011.
“It’s great for them to finally have them come to a decision on what can be put there,” said Vadnais Heights resident Jane Usman. I’m glad that they included the parks and the ballfields and stuff for the youngsters because this area needs some green space.”
Usman grew up in St. Paul, and she happened to hit on what opens first on the site. The Gateway Park right off Ford Parkway and overlooking the Mississippi River welcomes the public this month. And that’s just the start.
“We have over 450 construction workers on site each day,” Michalski said.
Here’s the rundown: 3,800 units of housing encompassing rental apartments over a grocery store; condos; a senior living facility; affordable housing; four public parks; office and retail space, including restaurants and fitness.
The contractor estimates it will all create more than 1,000 full-time jobs.
“We are executing on that plan, that vision from the community and all of the stakeholders and folks that had input on that plan,” Michalski said.
Sustainability is also a big piece of the Highland Bridge project.
“A collective stormwater plan that manages all stormwater runoff on the site into this beautiful amenity of a central water feature. That’s a main tenet of the development,” Michalski said.
All electricity will come from renewable sources, too, and more than 1,000 trees are being planted.
The apartments and senior living spaces are available now, along with row homes for sale. Affordable housing will be finished next year.