St. Paul Neighborhood Divided On Future Of Ford Site

August 29, 2017 10:37 PM

Deciding the future of the old Ford Plant in St. Paul has neighbors divided in the area adjacent to the land that will likely be zoned by the city next month.

City leaders could vote on a final zoning ordinance for the vacant Ford Site in September.

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The current plans brought out both supporters and opponents to a town hall Tuesday night, where they were able to ask questions and voice opinions.

The city's proposal includes mixed-use development for both business and residential buildings while preserving green space at the site.

RELATED: St. Paul Planning commission to Hold Public Hearing on Future of Ford Site

City Councilman Chris Tolbert led the town hall meeting, asking the crowd to refrain from personal attacks during the question and answer portion.

"We're all neighbors here," Tolbert said. "We all still have to live by each other."

Supporters say development on the site is inevitable and told the crowd they would rather help decide what goes on the land by zoning it now.

RELATED: Plans to Redevelop Old Ford Plant Site Taking Shape in St. Paul

"We think that the zoning plan is a good one," Sustain Ward 3 member Nathaniel Hood said. "With any development there are trade offs. There may be traffic in the neighborhood."

But others, including hundreds who have formed a grassroots group called Neighbors for Livable St. Paul worry about the impact of high-density housing.

"What they have planned is an ulta-dense, hyper urban metropolis, plopped into a quiet residential neighborhood and it’s entirely unacceptable," Charles Hathaway, a member of the group, said.

Hathaway said other people are concerned about building height and traffic congestion once the development begins to grow.

In an effort to help ease concern, Tolbert told the crowd he plans to propose an amendment to the zoning plan that would restrict developers from building taller than six stories. He said if a developer chooses to go higher than that, the extra stories would result in a loss of land for the developer, which would in turn preserve green, open space on the site.

The city has planned a public hearing on the proposed zoning plan for Sept. 20.


History of the Ford Plant Site

  • The Ford Motor Company first began assembling Model Ts in the Twin Cities in 1912 in an old warehouse in Minneapolis.
  • In 1925, Ford opened the Twin Cities Assembly Plant in Highland Park.
  • The plant at the Ford site assembled vehicles from the Model T, WWII Tanks and the Ford Ranger pickup.
  • In 2011, Ford closed the plant as a part of its national restructuring plan.

Information provided by the city of St. Paul.

Credits

Kirsten Swanson

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