Metro Green Line Helps Attract At Least $2.5 Billion in Development

121 new projects within a half-mile of the line include housing, retail
May 22, 2014

Excerpts taken from 2013 Funders Collaborative Annual Report Met Council Announcement May 14, 2014

During the recent Funders Collaborative Stakeholder event and in the 2013 annual report, we asked the question, “Are we ready for rail?” and evaluated what “ready” looks like in five key areas. Last week we explored affordable housing and if low – and- moderate income residents can still afford to live here. This week we turn our attention to: Is the rail line attracting investment?

It's a good start. With 121 projects worth more than $2.5 billion completed or under way within a mile of the LRT line – up from even the 90 projects and $1.7 billion reported in the 2013 annual report- development is coming to nearly every station along the Corridor. 

Community plans for the dozen neighborhoods along the Corridor call for $7 billion in new investment over the next 30 years. These plans envision everything from new commercial and residential buildings, to new sidewalks and bike paths, to new water and power infrastructure. 

Last week, the Metropolitan Council announced $2.5 billion worth of new construction and redevelopment projects within a half-mile of the METRO Green Line (Central Corridor LRT Project) since engineering work began more than five years ago, which indicates a draw for both residential and commercial development near the University of Minnesota, along University Avenue, and in both downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

The Metropolitan Council is now tracking 121 projects that have announced total-investment figures, or have filed building permits, to reach the $2.5 billion figure. Of those 121 projects, 43 haven’t yet announced or made public an investment figure, meaning that the $2.5 billion figure is expected to climb in coming months. See a map of development project locations.

The 121 new development projects identified along the corridor include buildings already constructed, projects underway and those in the planning phase. The Met Council’s calculations do not include some of the larger projects along the line that received public funding, including the new Vikings’ stadium, TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field. The total does include the $243 million renovation of the Union Depot in St. Paul’s Lowertown, which is the Green Line’s eastern terminus. 

Large developments that have gone up along the Central Corridor recently include an expansion of Episcopal Homes, a $45 million senior housing project near Fairview and University avenues; a $16 million redevelopment of a former mattress warehouse and store into the C&E Lofts near Raymond and University avenues, and the $30 million Stadium Village Flats, which includes retail, at 818 Washington Ave. SE in Minneapolis.  

At the newly renovated Pioneer-Endicott Building in downtown St. Paul, the apartments recently added are now almost 80 percent leased, and more than 80 percent of the tenants are moving from locations outside of downtown St. Paul. 

Additionally, the Met Council identified 36 building projects that are near the line but more than a half-mile away. A number of those developments are apartments and student housing, and many are within a mile of the Green line. On June 14, Metro Transit will implement modifications to existing bus routes that cross the Green Line, providing improved transfer opportunities for passengers. 

Starting with Frogtown Square in 2007, 17 development projects have been completed or are working their way through a design review process with the guidance of the Saint Paul Design Center. The design review helps a development and design team deliver the best interpretation of the community’s vision for an area as stated in the Development Strategy and station area plans. 

Housing density has increased significantly–nearly half a unit per acre—which is good news for local businesses as well as the transit system. But density also increases demand for parks and common spaces called for in community plans. Participants in the Green Line Parks and Commons effort are seeking innovative ways to make the Corridor more livable and inviting—both attracting more development and mitigating its impact on neighborhoods.