NEWSBRIEF: Ramsey County moves ahead with riverfront development in downtown St. Paul

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners on July 23 directed staff to move forward with Riversedge – AECOM’s proposed development at the Riverfront Properties site in downtown St. Paul, following the recent completion of a six-month due diligence process. The proposed $788 million development includes four new towers and will transform how downtown residents, workers and visitors connect with the Mississippi River. The proposed private development could yield more than $15 million in new property tax revenues per year.

“After a multi-faceted and comprehensive due diligence process, I am pleased that we’re taking this next step to realize our bold vision for this site,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega, who represents downtown St. Paul. “I am confident that our investment will bring significant long-term returns for St. Paul, Ramsey County and the Twin Cities.”

AECOM’s proposed Riversedge development includes:

-Phased construction of four towers that will include Class A office, residential space, and street-level retail, entertainment and hospitality.

-A land bridge extension of public realm space (or “lid”) over Shepard Road and the adjacent railway, extending downtown St. Paul to the Mississippi River and doubling the usable area of the site.

-Integrated public spaces including the first section of the city’s proposed River Balcony, a river-level esplanade, and an amphitheater and bandshell overlooking the river.

-New roadway connections to the site and supplemental parking.

-$5 million contribution to an affordable housing trust fund, which would be used to expand housing options in St. Paul.

“Riversedge is an opportunity to bring jobs, economic development, affordable housing and increased tax base that St. Paul, Ramsey County and the entire region needs,” said Ramsey County Board Chair Jim McDonough. “Maximizing new public space on this unique, iconic site provides a transformative connection between the city and the river which will stimulate access and activity for residents, businesses and visitors.”

The first phase of the development will include construction of nearly 132,000 square feet of public realm space and trail connections; two towers with a 168-room hotel, 56 condo units, 350 residential units, 11,500 square feet of retail and 500 parking spaces. A public contribution of $80 million is being sought to fund the new public land to connect downtown St. Paul and the river. Ramsey County has made a $40 million bonding request at the state Legislature for the Riversedge development.

“This exciting development reflects the direction we are headed in downtown St. Paul,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “The increased public space, added vitality and connection to the Mississippi River will serve our city well for generations to come.”

“AECOM and Ramsey County’s shared vision for this site is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the St. Paul skyline,” said B Kyle, president and CEO of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. “The proposed Class A office space, which is much-needed in St. Paul, paired with world-class amenities will help accelerate the attraction of new businesses to downtown.”

Headquartered in California, AECOM is a fully integrated infrastructure firm well-known for its work on public sector projects around the globe. Ramsey County chose to enter a due diligence process with AECOM in November 2018, after a comprehensive proposal process. Following the July 23 decision by the Board of Commissioners, AECOM and Ramsey County will begin creation of technical engineering and design documents, continue to seek regulatory clearances, initiate public engagement activities, and start negotiation of a development agreement. Construction on the site is anticipated to begin in 2020 or 2021.

“We are thrilled about the progress we have made with the stakeholders, Ramsey County, and the City of St. Paul during the due diligence period, and are excited to move into the design and development phases of the project, said Brian Dusek, managing principal, real estate development for AECOM. “This site is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for St. Paul and the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area, and we are honored to be a part of its transformation.”

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