St. Paul reviving stalled construction projects

Downtown construction
St. Paul city officials say they're getting ready to revive some long-stalled downtown projects, including a residential lofts development that has languished across the street from the farmers market. The city is using federal stimulus money and tax-increment financing to get the projects off the ground.
MPR Photo/Laura Yuen

St. Paul city leaders say two long-stalled downtown construction projects will finally get built, thanks to a new state law that allows the city to better pool its resources.

St. Paul will use about $15 million in excess tax-increment financing from across the city to jump-start a number of developments, including a new downtown Lunds grocery and apartment complex.

Bob Lux, the developer of that project, known as the Penfield, said the recession has forced him to scale back his plans, but it's still alive.

"It was originally conceived back at the height of the condo market, and we were going to do a tower, a condo tower, similar to what we did in Minneapolis. We missed the market," Lux saud. "We're bringing it back because we've enjoyed working with the city of St. Paul, and we're really trying to find a solution to get a grocery store into downtown St. Paul."

The Penfield and several other city projects are also getting help from federal-stimulus bonds.

The money could also revive an empty block across the street from the downtown farmers market. That hole in the ground is the site of an on-again, off-again, residential lofts project.

Deputy Mayor Ann Mulholland said St. Paul will look a lot different in just a couple of years, thanks to the new legislation.

"We took advantage of the jobs bill in spades, and pooled every dollar we could physically pool," Mulholland said. "And we're going to push ourselves to get all of those projects in the ground."

Most of the projects will begin construction this fall.

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