Ramsey County moves forward on St. Paul riverfront development plan

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A meeting between the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners and developers gave a first look at the plans for the St. Paul riverfront project.

“When we’ve looked at this before, it seems like it’s always a struggle to get people to connect with the river, so this really is out of the box compared to what we’ve seen before,” said Victoria Reinhardt, the Ramsey County Commissioner of District 7.

AECOM is the developer and on Tuesday the commission chose to move the company’s plan forward to the next step.

“They truly understand that we need to connect to the river,” said Rafael Ortega, the chairman of the Ramsey County Commission. “They truly understand the issue of the public realm. As I said in the meeting, we keep seeing towers - I really didn’t care about the towers.”

The project would start with two towers - one an apartment building and the other a boutique hotel and condominiums. Eventually, two other towers would be built for offices. Commissioners, however, are excited about what will lie in between the buildings. Stretching over Shepherd Road to the river is a land bridge that will double the five and a half acre site.  

“There’s no other spot in the Twin Cities where you have the ability to have the downtown core that close to the river, even Minneapolis doesn’t have that opportunity like St. Paul does,” said Brian Dusek of AECOM.

Although not too many details were revealed, it was mentioned there could be restaurants between the towers, and other ideas to draw people in year-round are in the works.  

“I see this as the city’s front porch,” said Dusek. “I think if we do it right, it could really be that and be referred to as that going forward.”

AECOM officials say the project will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and there is no completion date yet. The group will take six months to work on the details and hope to get the project moving in the next 12 to 18 months.