December 03, 2018 10:30 PM
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has confirmed officials with the St. Paul Port Authority had preliminary talks about redevelopment possibilities with the owners of the now-closed Hillcrest Golf Club, which sits near the corner of Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road.
The Port Authority and Hillcrest's owners, Local 455 Steamfitters/Pipefitters Union, declined KSTP's request for comment on specifics of last week's closed-door meetings.
Hillcrest has been on the market for more than a year even though it is nearly 120 acres of clean land that would not require expensive clean up costs if it were developed into commercial and/or housing projects.
The St. Paul Port Authority has played major roles in complex redevelopment projects over the years including the downtown Macy's conversion into the Treasure Island Center and the Midway Redevelopment around the new soccer stadium at Snelling and University Avenues.
Given the Port Authority's solid track record on projects throughout the city, business developers were happy to hear Hillcrest's owners were talking with Port Authority planners---even if they are just preliminary talks.
North-East Neighborhoods Development Corporation Executive Director Chuck Remke told KSTP he thinks Hillcrest's owners were doing the right thing by touching base with the Port Authority.
"I would tell them it is a great idea to meet and possibly team up with Port Authority," Remke said. "Hillcrest is a very desirable piece of land and a good, well thought out development project could bring significant jobs and new housing to the East side."
Remke said the Port Authority has the ability to also reach out and recruit potential businesses across the country to relocate, or expand, in development projects like the one that could be built at Hillcrest.
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'"The Port Authority is really good at bringing things like this together," Remke said. "And, they are also very good at communicating with people in surrounding neighborhoods of redevelopment projects and bringing them along every step of the way so they know what's happening."
Remke also said the Port Authority would have the ability to cut through a lot of red tape at city hall and would probably be able to get a project off the ground at Hillcrest faster than a traditional, private developer.
"The Port Authority knows how things work and they have the right contacts to expedite things," Remke said. "There is no doubt, in my mind, that the Port Authority and the Local 455 could do something special at Hillcrest and really help the East side with jobs and possibly new housing."
The St. Paul Port Authority and Local 455 do not have an agreement and they have not agreed to anything during their informal, preliminary meeting.
If the two sides do agree to work together on a redevelopment project at Hillcrest, it could take months to reach a definitive agreement.
Updated: December 03, 2018 10:30 PM
Created: December 03, 2018 10:01 PM
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