{ Development Roundup } January 2021

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Wilder Square changes
The Wilder Square project is moving ahead, with assistance Dec. 9 from the city. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, unanimously approved a $1.27 million HOME Loan and the issuance of up to $17 million in tax-exempt housing revenue bonds by Ramsey County. The city and county are working with new owner CommonBond Communities on the Frogtown project.
Built in 1974, Wilder Square is an 11-story elevator building with 136 units. Most of the dwelling units have one bedroom, with fewer than a dozen two-bedroom units. The building also has a community room and shared laundry facilities, as well as a 100-space parking lot.
The large site contains a play structure, a maintenance shed and green space. Surrounding uses include cooperatively owned townhomes, single family homes, businesses to the north and Frogtown Farm Park to the south. It’s a short walk to Lexington Parkway, Dale St. and University Ave. and the transit lines there. The building’s residents are predominantly seniors and adults with disabilities.
CommonBond plans a $32.49 million renovation of Wilder Square, which will take about a year. Plans call for residents to stay at the property during the renovation, likely moving from one unit to another.
Seven units will be modified to be full ADA compliant accessible units. New plumbing and mechanical systems are planned and windows will be replaced.

Day care gets go-ahead
The home of the Work It co-working space could become a day care, with St. Paul Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approval of a major variance Nov. 30. The 5-1 BZA decision was not appealed to the St. Paul City Council within 10 days, so the decision is final.
Property owner Anne Hendrickson asked the BZA to allow the major variance for 635 N. Fairview Ave. The property is an existing office building and was converted for use as a coworking space a few years ago. But the COVID-19 pandemic has affected demand for such shared uses.
Hendrickson wishes to convert the building primarily for use as a childcare center. But the property is zoned for industrial use. The zoning code requires that if a childcare or day care center is in an industrial area, the care-related use is supposed to be an accessory or add-on use to the property’s primary use. For example, a factory could add a separate day care for its works as an accessory use.
For 635 N. Fairview, the day care will be the primary use of this building. That drives the need for the variance.
Hendrickson said the front yard of the building will be fenced as a play space. The property has had environmental testing. If soil in the front yard is found to be contaminated it will be removed.
Hamline Midway Coalition recommended approval of the major variance, as did BZA staff. The owners of the Fairview business Center at 641-655 N. Fairview Ave., Hillcrest Development, opposed the major variance. That property owner is in a dispute with Hendrickson over property access.

Public hearing on Alatus
The much-debated Alatus development near Lexington Parkway and University Ave. goes to the St. Paul Planning Commission Zoning Committee at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 for a site plan review public hearing. A recommendation on the site plan would go to the full commission by month’s end.

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