Major development likely for Sears property near State Capitol

January 03, 2019 07:02 PM

After the Sears store located along Rice Street near the Minnesota State Capitol closes, it will likely become a major development consisting of housing, retail, offices and parking, according to planners with the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board (CAAPB).

"If you imagine maybe 400 to 800 housing units on this part of the parcel alone," CAAPB executive secretary Paul Mandell said while pointing to the south end of the property near Interstate 94.


"It would be mixed use. So either your housing or your office would all have retail and restaurants on the first floor - probably with parking underneath. It would be huge."

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The exact development plans haven't been set yet. A spinoff company from Sears, Seritage Growth Properties, now owns the land and is seeking developers.

Mandell said specific plan might start to come into focus over the next two months.

The principal planner for the CAAPB, Peter Musty, said they will seek to take advantage of the connections to Interstate 94 and Interstate 35E - plus a nearby light rail station on University Avenue.

"How do we maximize this infrastructure that we've already invested in with the light rail here (so it) can really work," Musty said. "It's totally exciting."

Musty said they will also seek to guide developers in connecting the development to a commercial district further north on Rice Street, and the other direction toward downtown St. Paul.

The CAAPB works with the City of St. Paul and Ramsey County on developments near the Capitol, and restricts building heights to about six stories.

The board's mission is to make sure any development keeps the State Capitol as the most prominent building in the area.

Minnesota law ensures the State Capitol building will always be the dominant structure in the surrounding area.

Most of the buildings in the area, as seen on the map below, can be no higher than four to six stories. However, there are exceptions directly north and southeast of the Capitol.

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Tom Hauser

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