St. Paul City Council Approves the Full Hillcrest Plan

The Hillcrest master plan was approved by the St. Paul City Council on a 5-0 vote, paving the way for massive commercial and residential redevelopment of the 112-acre former golf course and country club on the city’s East Side.

City Council Member Nelsie Yang, who represents the area, was unable to vote since she was due to give birth on Wednesday. Her brother-in-law, Council Member Dai Thao, was also missing.

Council President Amy Brendmoen delivered a statement from Yang, hailing the move as a “major step forward in delivering transformational change to the East Side and St. Paul as a community.”

In 2019, the St. Paul Port Authority paid a labor union $10 million for the old golf course at Larpenteur and Maryland avenues, as well as the master plan. The idea is to create 1,000 new jobs and 1,000 new homes on the land, which has been called “The Heights.”

The master plan, which anticipates “light industrial” and a variety of housing alternatives, was recommended for approval by the St. Paul Planning Commission last month. Some opponents have suggested focusing on office and retail building, as well as co-working space and mixed-use, village-style development.

On Wednesday, Council Member Chris Tolbert requested that the plan be revised to include language stating that any geothermal heating and cooling systems built at Hillcrest be assessed by the city, not only state authorities, to ensure that they do not have any negative effects on the aquifer. The change was accepted.

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