Development Roundup, Dec. 2018



Internet business receives loan to move into the Midway

A recently merged company is closing its Hudson, WI. location and consolidating in the Midway industrial area. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, voted Nov. 28 to approve a $175,000 forgivable loan to Alula.

Alula is the product of the acquisition and merger of Resolution Products and ipDatatel. Both companies work in home security and online businesses. The companies were operated independently until August 2017. Now that the merger has been completed, the company intends to close its facility in Wisconsin and relocate to St. Paul. Additionally, Alula would shift some workers over time from a Houston, TX facility to the Twin Cities, though the plan to continue operating the facility in Houston.

The proposed facility here will serve as the corporate headquarters for the combined operations. Alula considered spaces throughout the Twin Cities and also explored options to headquarter the company in other regions. With the approval of Strategic Investment Funds, the company will lease approximately 50,000 square feet at 2340 Energy Park Dr. They will relocate 56 existing jobs and hire 69 additional employees to staff the St. Paul office, making a commitment of 125 jobs at their new headquarters in Saint Paul.

2340 Energy Park Dr. is located in an I-1 zoning district, with all of Alula’s proposed land uses permitted. No existing businesses will be displaced or relocated as a result of this project, and there was no land acquisition that took place as a result of eminent domain.

The city funds are from the HRA Strategic Investment Fund and will be used for equipment and furniture.

Meatpacking plant in Midway wins historic status

The former Superior Packing Plant property, which has long been eyed as a redevelopment site, has won needed historic designation. On Nov. 5 the property at 2103 Wabash Ave. was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an excellent, intact, local example of a multistory straight-line production, meatpacking plant within the city of St. Paul. It was part of St. Paul’s first meatpacking district before the main district moved to South St. Paul around the Union Stockyards.

The property has been largely vacant for several years. It was built in sections over the past century but hasn’t housed meat packing operations for almost 40 years.

Various developers have looked at the property since then and sought ways to redevelop it. The latest proposal, by PAK Properties and HGB Group, called for turning the property into multi-family housing. That required a complex series of reviews by the city’s Planning Commission, as the developers sought to retain the underlying industrial zoning.

The project had the support of St. Anthony Park Community Council, Midway Chamber of Commerce, housing advocates and business groups, but was challenged by adjacent commercial and industrial neighbors due to concerns about putting a large number of residents into a busy non-residential area. The developers dropped their plans at about the same time an appeal was underway before the St. Paul City Council.

The historic designation would help a future owner-developer to receive state and federal historic tax credits. The credits have been used at other St. Paul sites, including the West End’s former Schmidt Brewery and at the Chittenden & Eastman building in South St. Anthony Park.

Higher Ground wins funding to move into Como building

A longtime Marshall Ave. charter school’s upper grades are headed in a few years for a new home at 1471 Brewster St. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), approved the issuance of up to $15 million in conduit lease revenue bonds for Higher Ground Building Company. The nonprofit is an arm of Higher Ground Academy.

Higher Ground Academy is a K-12 public charter school which has operated since 1999 in a facility at 1381 Marshall Ave. One of its founders is former City Council President Bill Wilson.

The school currently enrolls approximately 785 students. It is full, with a waiting list of 276 pupils.

The facility was originally financed with bonds issued by the HRA in 1999, with additional improvements financed through HRA issued bonds in 2004 and 2009.

In 2013, the HRA issued $13,480,000 in bonds for the school that refunded all prior bonds and financed equipment purchases for STEM labs to enhance academic programs. The current outstanding balance of the 2013 bonds is $12,125,000.

The HRA has received an application on behalf of Higher Ground to issue up to $15 million in conduit revenue bonds, to purchase, renovate and expand an existing school building located at 1471 Brewster St. That is the former Metro Deaf facility. That school recently moved to a new location.

The Brewster building is 40,000 sq. ft. and sits on a 1.75-acre site near Como and Snelling avenues. The existing building was built in two sections, with an original one-story structure in 1973 and a two-story addition in 2009. Higher Ground wishes to renovate and expand the building. The new school site will support students in grades 7 to 12 and increase enrollment in grades 7 to 12 from approximately 300 to 450. The new site is just 2.8 miles from the Marshall site and easily accessible via main thoroughfares from all directions. The school also provides its own bus transportation service for all students.

Elementary students would remain at Marshall Ave.

Earlier this year school officials considered, but then dropped, a proposal to relocate to property on the St. Paul College grounds in the Summit-University neighborhood.


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