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Land Use

Our Committee on Land Use and Economic Development (CLUED) meets on the third Monday of each month. We usually meet from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at 161 Snelling Avenue North.

The Committee makes recommendations and informs residents on residential and commercial development. We review variance applications and construction site plans, make recommendations on problem properties, support transit-oriented land use, and work with government officials to positively impact land use decisions. If you have an issue you’d like to bring to the Committee, please email katie@unionparkdc.org.

Everyone is welcome to attend our meetings. If you'd like to be on our distribution list, please email julie@unionparkdc.org. You'll receive the agenda and supporting documents before each monthly meeting. If you are interested in joining the Committee, you’ll need to attend three meetings to become a voting member.

 

Current Land Use Committee Topics

The next Land Use and Economic Development Committee meeting will be held at 6:30 pm on Monday, April 17 at 161 Snelling Avenue North. 

The property owner of 451 Fariview Avenue N is proposing to convert ground-floor commerical space into two one-bedroom units. The building is currently an 18-unit residential apartment building with 1,350 square feet of vacant commercial space located on the ground floor of the northwest part of the building. 

The property is located in a RM2 multiple family residential zoning district which requires 1,500 square feet of land per dwelling unit. The lot size requirement for 20 units would be 30,000 square feet, and the lot size is 27,000, so the owner is seeking a variance of 3,000 square feet.

 

 

Recent Land Use Topics

On March 20, the Committee reviewed draft buildling design documents for a development at 304-308 Snelling and the adjacent vacant residential property facing Carroll Avenue. (See image to the left.) 

The developer is proposing demolition of the two existing structures on the property, and plans a new building with about 60 market-rate apartments with underground and first floor parking (60-70 spaces) and no retail. The total height would be six stories at Snelling, but would be set back significantly from the residences behind on Carroll.  

Since the parcel is slated to be rezoned T3 (as part of the South Snelling Zoning Study), the project likely would not need any variances or conditional use permits. At the February committee meeting, many members encouraged the architect to consider incorporating retail space into the project.

 

 

City planners attended our November meeting to discuss the South Snelling Zoning Study, which proposes changed zoning along Snelling Avenue from I-94 to Ford Parkway, and for 1/4 mile along major streets crossing Snelling.

Among other things, the study proposes changing most of the zoning along Snelling from I-94 to Selby to T3 zoning (which is the same as the Vintage/Whole Foods project) allowing for more mixed uses at greater density. It also proposes changing the zoning for the three blocks of Selby west of Snelling to T2 zoning, allowing for more commercial and mixed uses.

The City is hosting a Public Hearing on the changes on Friday, May 19th, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. in City Hall, Room 40. Questions regarding the zoning changes or public hearing can be addressed to Tony Johnson at 651-266-6620 or tony.johnson@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

The UPDC Board passed resolutions supporting the City's process of rezoning these areas.

 

 

Minnesota Alternatives has leased the office space in the building at 1650 Carroll Avenue for an outpatient clinic for adults who experience alcohol and/or substance abuse issues. They intend to host clients for both individual and group counseling during day and evening hours. The building owner has assured them that they will have at least 10-12 off-street parking spots for their use.

Minnesota Alternatives reached out to neighbors to address issues, and presented at our October Committee meeting. After hearing resident concerns and the owners' responses, the Committee voted to submit a letter of support for the clinic as part of its licensing and approval process. 

 

 

Representatives from the University of St. Thomas presented its new Campus Master Plan at our October meeting. 

St. Thomas has identified 14 potential projects, including two new academic buildings, more housing and more parking, in the 10-year, $300 million master plan. The potential campus projects include a third science and engineering building, a new Summit Avenue building for the arts, up to 437 additional beds in four new buildings and up to 631 additional parking spaces.

To comment on the master plan email campusmasterplan@stthomas.edu. You also can contact Doug Hennes, vice president for government relations and special projects at 962-6402, or Amy Gage, neighborhood liaison at 962-6123.

 

St. Paws Dog Daycare and Boarding at 1920 University Avenue was recently evaluated. The City was making a determination as to whether the use of the property as a pet boarding facility is consistent with the T3 zoning in the area. The Department of Safety and Inspections had some concern about the impact of the business on Iris Park, which is one location used for pet relief. After gathering community input, the Committee made a recommendation supporting the business without conditions. 

The city's Planning Commission recently made a determination consistent with our Committee's recommendation. It concludled that the dog day care and boarding facility is similar to other uses within T3 zoning, allowing the continued operation of St. Paws as long as it maintains an indoor pet relief area (which it has) and promtly disposes of any waste occurring outside of the building during dog walking. 

 

  

A new business is slated to open at 181 Snelling Avenue, just north of Selby (in the location of the former Cupcake). Called The Naughty Greek, it will be a greek-inspired restaurant. The restaurant owner has applied for a beer and wine license, and the Committee recently made a recommendation to approve the license. Any member of the public can express support or opposition to this license application by emailing LH-Licensing@ci.stpaul.mn.us before Friday, October 14 at 4:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

The owners of the Happy Gnome in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood have leased the former J & R Cleaners & Laundry space at 1668 Selby (at the corner of Selby and Pierce, pictured to the left), across from Taste of Thailand. They intend to open an establishment called Augustine’s Bar and Bakery -- a coffee shop and full service restaurant and bar focused on craft beer and scratch cuisine. They hope to create a cozy, casual neighborhood vibe, and to be a place where you can enjoy your morning coffee and fresh pastry, and then come back after work to enjoy a pint and a meal.  They will also feature a weekend brunch.

They have applied for a full liquor license, and a license to serve alcohol outdoors on the sidewalk. The Committee submitted a letter of support for both licenses. The City received a letter of opposition to the sidewalk service, and has scheduled a public hearing on the matter for Thursday, October 6 at 2:00 pm in City Hall. 

 

 

Trustees of the residence at 36 North Mississippi River Boulevard have applied to split the lot to create a second parcel, likely to construct a second single family home there. In the image to the left, the current parcel is highlighted. The vacant portion of the parcel is on the east side, and is currently lawn space. 

The Committee discussed this issue and decided not to make an official recommendation at this time. If you have any concern about this potential lot split, please contact us. 

 

 

 

 

 

An affordable housing project called Lexington Station is being proposed on Lexington Avenue between I-94 and University Avenue, just to the east of the Wilder Foundation's parking facility.

The project is a collaboration between Michaels Organization, a large affordable housing developer, and CPM Companies, the local development partner. This is a significant project, with a projected 246 living units in two separate buildings, which would be constructed on a now-vacant Wilder-owned parcel. The properties would be separated by green space and pedestrian and bicycling paths.

The Committee has heard a presentation by some of the project partners, including Erin Anderson from Cuningham Group Architecture. They will likely be back before the Committee in the coming months to request input and recommendations on the site plan for this project. 

 

 

 

A property owner has purchased the former used auto dealership at the northwest corner of Snelling and Dayton Avenues. He intends to improve the lot with fencing and landscaping to provide parking spaces for the adjacent businesses at the northwest corner of Snelling and Selby Avenues. The site plan for the property (see image) has received a recommendation from the Committee, and approval by the City. 

 

 

 

 

 

The 128 Cafe has been granted a variance to expand the parking lot (currently behind the building) to create four additional parking spots on the east side of its building.  The photo (left) shows the site where the parking lot will be constructed (to the right of the building at 2057 Laurel/128 Cleveland). The required set-back from the adjacent property line is 9 feet, and the parking lot would provide only 7 feet of set-back space, requiring the 2-foot variance. The committee had sent a letter of support for the small variance that would allow four additional parking spaces, but did not support a larger variance that would accommodate six additional spaces. Additionally, the 128 Cafe is applying for a full liquor license for its restaurant at 128 Cleveland Avenue. It has received the required waiver from the University of Saint Thomas to obtain a license nearby a chapel, and received a letter of support from the Committee.  

 

Earlier this year, representatives of RS EDEN presented a proposal to purchase a vacant property and build a new housing development at 1509 Marshall Avenue. The current buildling is pictured to the left. The project would have built 60-70 small units of low-wage workforce housing with modest rents with access to transit in proximity to current and future jobs.

We recently learned that another owner purchased this property, ending RS EDEN's development pursuit. Watch here for updates as to what will become of 1509 Marshall. 

 

 

The plan to build a Starbucks drive-through in the southeast corner of Snelling and Marshall is moving forward. MnDOT has required that vehicles not be allowed to enter the site from Snelling, but vehicles will be allowed to turn right heading northbound on Snelling to exit. The plan also allows only for a right-hand turn to enter the property from Marshall, and a right-hand turn only to exit onto Marshall. There are also plans in place to address possible backups of waiting vehicles onto Marshall. Click here to view an image of the site plan.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Land Use Committee Projects


Midway Center Task Force

This Task Force was set up to prepare a report with community vision, goals, and strategies for redevelopment of the Midway Center superblock for consideration by the Union Park Land Use Committee and other stakeholders. [ more information on the Midway Center Task Force ]

Housing Mix Working Group

The mission of the this group is to prepare a report with recommendations on how to find a balance of residential single-family housing and Congregate Living Facilities (CLF) in Merriam Park. It aims to:

  • Develop a residential land type and usage map
  • Review existing studies and literature
  • Engage community stakeholders
  • Study property tax implications
  • Craft recommendations for the UPDC Board and City
  • Leverage the model across the City 

The group presented preliminary findings and recommendations to the Planning Commission on January 22. You can review their full presentation here.  It also was featured in a recent Star Tribune article. 

The group has recently expanded its work to focus on ways to market and promote Merriam Park for potential single family home owners. It held open meetings on the following topics:

The Housing Scene

A panel of Realtors explored what attracts single-family home ownership on residential streets in Merriam Park. How can we encourage families doing tear-downs in Highland to buy equally large historic homes in our neighborhood (and at a better price!)? Are there city-sponsored incentives that could encourage renovation?

The Retail Scene

Developers addressed what single-family buyers are looking for in terms of retail options. Neighborhoods with walkability to original restaurants and stores are all the rage nationally. We clearly have that in Merriam Park: Heirloom, a hot new foodie restaurant; retail and restaurants on Selby, including an urban farm store and Neighborhood Café; Izzy’s Ice Cream on Marshall and more. How can we better promote these amenities?

The Transportation, Parks and Education Scene

National studies indicate that mass transit, green space and colleges/universities are all factors that attract single-family owners to a neighborhood. Can Merriam Park further promote the Green Line and biking, improve recreation options at Merriam Park itself and leverage the new soccer stadium to benefit the neighborhood?

The Rental Scene

The group explored rentals in Merriam Park by hearing from landlords and the city. How do other college neighborhoods or towns, such as Northfield, promote high-quality, affordable housing stock? How can we ensure that Merriam Park remains a dynamic, diverse neighborhood?

In addition to active promotion of our initiatives, organizers will forward residents’ suggestions to Union Park District Council.  

For more information about the group's work, contact John Syverud at jbmcrud@q.com.

Snelling Avenue Green Space

The Union Park District Council has been hoping to work with our community to transform the vacant property at the northwest corner of Snelling and I-94 into an inviting green space.  The stretch of land between St. Anthony Avenue and Bremer Bank is owned by MnDOT. We would like see this plot transformed into a welcoming common space there with trees, plantings, seating, solar-powered lighting, public art, and an interactive pathway designed to encourage residents to walk through and enjoy the space.

Why improve this space?  This common area would create an attractive gateway for people entering the neighborhood, increasing the commercial potential of the area between I-94 and University Avenue. This site is located directly across Snelling from the vacant “Bus Barn” property – the future site of a Major League Soccer stadium. Improvements to this parcel will support the redevelopment of the 34.5-acre Midway Shopping Center site into a vibrant, transit-oriented, higher-density urban village.

Additionally, this improvement will enhance the walkability of our community. The Green Line light rail station at Snelling and University Avenues is within a half-mile of the residential area to the south, but few people make the trek along Snelling to light rail, because heavy traffic, air pollution, overgrown invasive plants, and litter make the walk unsafe and unappealing. For this reason, creating pleasant public green space along Snelling was identified as a priority solution in a recent community walkability project with residents, business owners, the District Councils Collaborative, City staff, and MnDOT engineers.

Summer 2015: We partnered with the Friendly Streets Initiative and its Better Bridges for Stronger Communities project to conduct a survey and engage people on the space. Residents viewed a gallery of images, and told us their priorities for improving the parcel.  You can review the survey results here. We also initiated a watershed survey by the Capitol Region Watershed District, who could design (and fund part of) a rain garden on a portion of the parcel.

Fall 2015: In collaboration with the Friendly Streets Initiative and the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation, we participated in a workshop with community members, MnDOT and city staff, and other partners to create a detailed vision for the space.  We took a walking tour of the area, analyzed the sapce, shared some food together, and came up with a design concept to make the space welcoming for our community.

Winter 2015: We took the community-guided design that is created during the fall workshop and provide it to MnDOT and Capitol Region Watershed District designers. Additionally, we shared the Snelling Commons vision with the architect working on the Midway Shopping Center redevelopment Master Plan. 

Spring 2016: We hoped to organize a committee of community members to assist and advise on the implementation of the project, and planned to reach out to potential partners to help with the funding of the project.

Unfortunately, MnDOT has indicated that it would like to transfer its ownership of the site to another entity, and it is not interested in investing in improvements to the site at this time. MnDOT's participation in this project is crucial, as the property owner and as a funder of the plants and organic materials to be installed there. So, the project is on hold while we wait to see how the parcel ownership plays out. We continue to advocate for improvements to the site!

If you have questions or are interested in supporting this project, please contact Julie at julie@unionparkdc.org.