An old industrial complex in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood could become a hub for creative workers under a multimillion redevelopment plan from First and First principal Peter Remes.
The 5.6-acre site near the Central Corridor
light rail transit line consists of nine buildings, along with a watertower, hence the project’s name, “Watertower Place," according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
Amy Sparks, executive director of the nearby Saint Anthony Park Community Council
, says that although the group hasn’t officially weighed in on the project, it’s generally supportive of the plan at this early stage.
In many ways, it’s in keeping with the neighborhood group’s efforts to formalize the area’s brand as a Creative Enterprise Zone
. The neighborhood has long been home to artists and other creative types.
“Some of the folks involved in the Creative Enterprise Zone heard about it and are excited about the potential,” and the same goes for the group’s land use committee, she says.
The plan includes installing working elevators, exposing boarded-up windows, and bringing light into the hallways, among other upgrades, she says. Her understanding is that Remes wants to introduce nonindustrial uses, such as a theater, into the place.
Besides the usual development hurdles, the city is evaluating some of its zoning ordinances related to industry, which could have an impact on the development's direction, she says.
“The question is, do we want this to be the Creative Enterprise Zone or to be more of a traditional industrial zone? Hopefully it’ll be a melding of the two,” she says. “The two uses, art and industry, have coexisted pretty comfortably in the area for the past 30 years and we hope to see that continue.”
Right now, the building has 60 tenants, and whether they’ll be able to stay is up in the air. “We want to make sure everything is done to keep some of the remaining tenants and to keep the building in the spirit of the Creative Enterprise Zone,” she says. “We want creative uses in the area.”
Source: Amy Sparks, executive director, Saint Anthony Park Community Council
Writer: Anna Pratt