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Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Funding finally secured for soccer stadium site cleanup

Posted on 10 July 2017 by Calvin

Complex technical maneuvers with TIF districts and funds come up with the last $875,000

By JANE MCCLURE
With site work in full swing on a Major League Soccer stadium at Snelling and Interstate 94, it’s time for community members to get an update. Union Park District Council (UPDC) is hosting an informational meeting at 6:30pm, Thur., July 13 at the MidPointe Event Center, 415 N. Pascal St.

The district council has invited representatives from the St. Paul Port Authority, lead contractor Mortenson Construction, Minnesota United FC and the City of St. Paul to speak about construction timelines, neighborhood impacts and short-term plans for the site.

The south end of the Midway Center superblock, bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues, is fenced and barricaded. Large, covered dirt piles and a large pit are taking shape. During the last week of June, pile driving took place.

UPDC staff and board members said the meeting is needed so that area residents and business owners can learn more about what’s going on. City permits for site work were issued in June, with more permits needed as specific aspects of work—including the eventual demolition of part of Midway center—take place.

UPDC Executive Director Julie Reiter said there have been many questions since site work began. Pile driving, which could be heard as far south as Summit Ave., also generated a flurry of calls and questions.

Minnesota United is hoping to play games in St. Paul starting in 2019. The team is currently playing at TCF Bank Stadium. The team recently announced it is a lead sponsor for the 2017 Hmong Soccer Festival, which was held July 1-2 at Como Park. Moving activities to the stadium once it is complete has been discussed in the past.

Work continues to raise needed funding for environmental cleanup, through the St. Paul Port Authority. The Port is working with the city and soccer team on stadium and Midway Center redevelopment, bringing in Milwaukee-based developer Irgens for commercial aspects of shopping center redevelopment.

A key step was completed June 27 when the Port Authority Board acted to provide more money for site environmental cleanup, through a series of complex actions. The Port made amendments to the Midway Industrial Development District, which is referred to as Snelling-Midway. The amendments also affect two other industrial development districts, Maxson Steel on Dale St. near Como-Dale-Front, and the Energy Park Development District.

The Port Authority can set up tax increment financing or TIF districts under state law, by establishing what are called industrial development districts. TIF allows additional tax revenues generated through redevelopment to be funneled into redevelopment costs for a property. How TIF funds can be shared between districts is complex. In September 2016, the Port created the Snelling-Midway Industrial District to facilitate soccer stadium development. The district included the Midway Center shopping center property but not the bus barn site where most of the stadium and its ancillary facilities will be located.

The Port is leading environmental cleanup for the stadium project and has received more than $3.1 million in state, Metropolitan Council and Ramsey County grants. The city committed to funding the first $1.5 million in cleanup costs on the bus barn property. That property isn’t eligible for the state and Met Council grants to be used there.

Cleanup grants are still being sought, but there is a shortfall of $825,000 for the work. That’s where the changes to TIF districts come in. The Port will use TIF from Maxson Steel’s subdistrict Great Northern Business Center Phase II and Energy Park’s subdistrict Energy Lane Business Center. These two subdistricts currently have TIF receipts greater than the amount of money needed to pay their current costs. The money is available to be used at Snelling-Midway.

Because the city hasn’t been able to obtain enough grant funding to cover its costs, they want to use a TIF funding in a pay-as-you-go project. The project would take $375,000 from Energy Lane and $500,000 from Great Northern.

But to do so, the Maxson Steel and Energy Park districts must include Snelling-Midway, so the three industrial development districts were amended. State law allows what are called overlapping industrial development districts, even if the properties aren’t contiguous.

The net result of all the complex technical changes is that the city will advance money as a loan to pay for site remediation and related infrastructure costs on the Snelling Ave. portion of the redevelopment site. TIF dollars will only be used for the private development parcels along Snelling, as outlined in the master plan for the superblock. State law doesn’t allow TIF funding to be used for recreational facilities.

The parcels eyed for the TIF funding and cleanup assistance are currently tax-exempt and are part of the bus barn site. The goal of the TIF transactions is to get the land cleaned up, redeveloped and returned to the property tax rolls. One parcel is 20,964 square feet, and the other is 36,840 square feet. The properties are south of where Shields Ave. would be extended into the site and west of the planned stadium.
The TIF actions will also go to the St. Paul City Council for action.

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