Listening Meetings and Gathering Information
By now most of you know that Ryan Co. – the master developer selected by the City of Saint Paul to springboard the city in into the 21st century – has been holding “Listening” sessions to talk about their future plans for the Ford Site. At their second meeting held Aug. 16, they were supposed to announce their actual Master Site Plan but that has been delayed until later this fall. Ryan cited the need to gather more information from the city and community as the reason for the delay.
At both meetings, Ryan shared presentations showcasing their deep Minnesota roots, their past and current projects, and projects that parallel some of the features that will define the Ford Site – most notably the water feature at the Centennial Lakes re-development they led:
While these listening sessions are mostly one-way informational presentations, there has been interaction between Ryan and the audiences attending. Most notably Ryan conducted a break-out session at their first meeting. Audience members organized into smaller groups in order to gather preferences for building styles, housing types (eg affordable, senior, multi-family, etc), and design features. There was no surprise that most of the design preferences of the audience leaded towards traditional styles.
At the second listening session Ryan conducted a text survey to gather further preferences. I won’t go through the results but let’s just say there might be a brewery on the site in the future:
Top 10 Outs and Ins
Probably the most informative insight into the master plan was presented in Ryan Co’s Top 10 lists – one which outlined the 10 things you WOULD NOT find in their Master Plan and one which stated things you WOULD find. I don’t think there were any surprises here – although there was some clapping for building heights under 10 stories (remember – up to eight without any CUP or buys).
Here is the ten things you will NOT see in their plan:
And here is the ten things you WILL find in the plan:
Supportive – Let’s See The Plan!
All in all, Sustain Ward 3 isn’t shocked nor are we too disappointed in the presentations so far. We knew this would be an uphill publicity battle for any developer. As we said in our statement– we’re very happy that Ryan Co. was the chosen Master Developer. They are a Minnesotan company with strong ties to St. Paul and have multiple projects in the works in the cities (including the O’Gara’s redevelopment).
We’ve met with Ryan already and feel like they are on the right track. We’re not going to get everything but one thing that is of particular note is their commitment to making sure that the affordable housing goals of the site (10% at 30% AMI (Area Median Income), 5% at 50% and 60% AMI each) are met. In addition, you can actually feel the excitement emitting from Ryan Co. when they start to talk about the water feature on the site and the potential it has for being a first-water treatment and environmentally sustainable aspect of their final plan.
We feel like the City of St. Paul has truly found a partner in the development of the site. We’re looking forward to more meetings with Ryan Co. Tentatively the next meetings have been scheduled for Sept. 26 and Oct. 31. These meetings are subject to change but we believe that Ryan Co. will release its vision and submit a plan to the city within the next 30 to 60 days.
Rob lives with his wife Amanda in their small Highland Park home with their two dog-sized cats. He is an avid bicyclist and musician.