Over the next five to seven years, a Minneapolis developer with a long history in St. Paul will oversee the creation of 1,000 new mixed-income residences at The Heights, the upcoming 112-acre development formerly home to Hillcrest Golf Course.
Port Authority St. Paul, who purchased the defunct country club and its golf course in 2019announced that Sherman Associates will be the lead developer at The Heights, working hand-in-hand with Johnny Opara and JO companiesas well as Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity for a wide range of rental and ownership options.
The plans include 150 Habitat for Humanity affordable housing opportunities, ranging from single-family homes to four-plexes — the largest single-site project Twin Cities Habitat has ever undertaken, according to officials with the St. Louis-based nonprofit. Paul.
At 112 acres, the former Hillcrest site spans nearly as much as the Highland Bridge, with the development sprouting where the Twin Cities Ford plant once stood in Highland Park.
“Find me another city that’s able to say … (develop) not one, but two 100-acre sites from the ground up,” said Mayor St. Paul’s Melvin Carter during a celebration of Sherman’s unveiling as lead developer on Tuesday. A media event was held at the Port Authority offices in the downtown Treasure Island Center on Wabasha Street.
Four to five apartment blocks planned
Chris Sherman, president of Sherman Associates, said plans are still being hammered out and will depend in part on financing, but the overall goal is for Sherman to develop four of the five apartment buildings to be located near Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road and on Winthrop Street for Hoyt Boulevard.
Sherman said he hopes to close financing for the first two buildings, each likely to include 175 rental units, in mid-to-late 2024, with construction wrapping up in the spring of 2026. One building will likely consist of workforce housing – with targeted units. to households earning between 60 percent and 120 percent of the area median income — and another could be supported by low-income housing tax credits, which have their own income requirements.
Opara said he is considering a single-building development of between 110 and 230 units, although discussions about what type of affordable housing and where his project would be located have been less advanced. “It could be workforce housing, it could be senior housing,” he said.
Habitat will likely begin developing affordable housing for homeowners in 2025, once the multifamily apartments are up and running, said Sharon Sayles Belton, former Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity board chair, and Cathy Lawrence, Habitat’s director of development.
In the future: connection to the state, vocational training
Port Authority President and CEO Todd Hurley said the denser housing will be clustered in apartment buildings toward the north end of the site, with Habitat for Humanity homes running up and down the southwest edges of the property. -along Winthrop Street.
Working with state senators Sandy Pappas and Foung Hawj, as well as state representatives Liz Lee and Jay Xiong, the Port Authority hopes to secure $13 million in state bond financing to complete the “last piece of the public infrastructure budget puzzle” , Hurley. said. Along with land sales and Port Authority funds, the state bonds would bring total spending for infrastructure, environmental cleanup and other site work to $50.5 million.
Officials said prospects for commercial development that could bring 1,000 jobs to the city’s East Side also look promising, which would be a boon for working-class neighborhoods on the East Side, one of the most ethnically diverse corners of the the twin cities.
The Port Authority agreed Tuesday to sell 20 acres of land in the lower center of the former golf course to Xcel Energy for $6 million, allowing the energy utility to move its Rice Street operations center to the East Side and build a new state-of-the-art facility that will be twice as large. The plans call for electric car charging stations for a fleet of vehicles expected to become fully electric by 2030.