St. Paul residents chime in on plans for former Ford Assembly Plant

The war of words over the future of the former Ford Assembly Plant is playing out in front yards in two St Paul neighborhoods.

In Highland Park and Mac-Groveland, dueling yard signs are pitting neighborhood against neighbor.

Kathleen Kelso is urging residents to give the green light to a redevelopment plan for the site.

"I look at the Ford site as an opportunity to have new affordable housing that older adults can live in, housing that will be intergenerational," Kelso said.

Meanwhile, across the street, Shari Lauren is seeing red, believing the plan will bring thousands of extra cars down her normally quiet street.

"I feel like what has been proposed is threatening to ruin everything that I chose this neighborhood for," Lauren said.

Later this month, the St. Paul City Council will vote on whether to re-zone the 135-acre parcel of land from industrial to a mix of residential and commercial zoning.

City planners envision an urban village with housing, stores, office space and parks, but some residents disagree on how big and dense the project should be.

Kelso believes up to 8,000 new residents in the area would mean a bigger tax base and more people would be closer to transportation and jobs in nearby Highland Village.

"I'm not fearful of cars. I'm not fearful of density," Kelso said.

But her neighbor doesn't think denser is better and believes what is planted in her front yard is a sign of the times.

"I feel like if people see enough signs, they'll realize there are more people against it than are just showing up to the meetings," Lauren said.

The city council will have a public hearing on the Ford Site Master Plan at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The council will then vote on the rezoning issue at their meeting on November 27.