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$1billion Residential Project for St. Paul!!!

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Developer readies big real-estate plan for West Side Flats

Tony Kennedy, Star Tribune

Published November 7, 2003 TROO07

The largest mixed-use real-estate plan in St. Paul's history envisions 3,000 new residential units amid scores of shops, a spa, domed movie theaters and a "Children's Wonder Castle" on the West Side Flats riverfront across from downtown.

The 75-acre development, called "Bridges of St. Paul," is still only a concept, and other grandiose plans for the property have never materialized. But JLT Group Inc. of St. Paul, which holds development rights on the site, has encouragement from Mayor Randy Kelly and others.

"The biggest challenge will be its size, but that's not insurmountable," said Patrick Seeb, executive director of the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation, a nonprofit development group. "I'm very confident that JLT will welcome suggestions for improvement."

If all elements of the project were to come to life, including homes and businesses with a point-blank view of the Mississippi and downtown skyline, it would be about 60 percent as big as the Mall of America. Total retail space, including a hotel and restaurants, would be 550,000 square feet. JLT said it would cost more than $1 billion to build.

By comparison, the Mall of America opened in 1992 at a cost of $650 million. Phase I of the mall has 2.5 million square feet of leasable space.

JLT, owned by St. Paul native Jerry Trooien, has been showing its Bridges of St. Paul plan in private to decisionmakers in the city. The first public presentation is scheduled for Thursday.

According to a preliminary news release from JLT, the project would be unlike any in the Twin Cities area.

"Activity on the main street that winds through the entire project will create an atmosphere of delight and excitement 365 days a year," the news release said.

The release said a cornerstone of the project would feature "digital dome theaters, a World Cultures Bazaar, a Children's Wonder Castle and a Human Journey Project."

JLT wouldn't disclose details or comment on possible financial assistance from taxpayers.

"The Bridges represents the type of ambitious and visionary development that will continue the momentum of St. Paul's transformation into a destination city for the entire region," Mayor Kelly said in JLT's news release.

Seeb said no one would have presented such an ambitious development proposal 10 years ago. "It's an outgrowth of focused development effort in the downtown riverfront," he said.

The newly opened U.S. Bank operations center already occupies part of the West Side Flats quadrant.

Seeb said JLT's project would add vitality to the riverfront, bring new investors to St. Paul and clean up polluted land.

"I'm looking forward to [the plan] being presented in public," Seeb said. "There's a lot of good things in it.

He added: "I think [Trooien] understands he has to get it out in public for comments, discussion and quite likely some improvement."

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This is great news! The Minneapolis-St Paul metro is one to watch!

I hope the planned LRT line from Minneapolis to St Paul gets built - it would connect these major regions together.

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