A Minnesota United stadium plan that would have a new MLS facility as centerpiece of a 34.4-acre “superblock” at Snelling and University in St. Paul has received an important approval from the St. Paul Planning Commission.
The Minnesota United stadium plan would transform a former bus terminal and much of the Midway Shopping Center into a mixed-use development with retail, residential and green space. The current Midway Shopping Center, which dates back to the 1950s, would be torn down to make way for the development as well.
It’s been a complicated process to put the Minnesota United stadium plan to date, requiring other city approvals, a land lease from the regional Met Council and state approval of several initiatives, including a liquor license and a property-tax exemption. (The land is currently off the tax roll because its ownership by a governmental body; the exemption would be extended to Minnesota United FC.) The property-tax exemption is still up in the air, as it was part of an omnibus tax bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature but left unsigned by Gov. Mark Dayton. While the property-tax exemption is collateral damage, it will require a special session to be resolved — or perhaps be resolved in the 2017 legislative session.
It remains to be seen whether the property-tax exemption will impact construction (it’s a major expense — some $3 million a year), but for the meantime work continues on the project. At the Planning Commission meeting, there were the usual objections to such a large project, centering around how it could negatively impact traffic and parking in the area. (Snelling and University is a major Twin Cities interaction when it comes to traffic; Snelling and I-94 on the south side of the project is as well. From the Star Tribune:
Planning documents now call for broadband development and a separate fund, with contributions from developers, to address neighborhood issues arising from stadium events and operations. City staff also increased the maximum density of buildings in the area.
[RK Midway/Midway Shopping Centr owner Rick] Birdoff said the proposed density is far too aggressive. City staff replied that if a desirable project comes along that does not meet the requirement, officials could consider modifying the rules.
“I think we’ve put together some really sound design principles that hopefully will bring the city the development that it wants,” Planning Commissioner Paula Merrigan said after the board unanimously approved the plans.
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