St. Paul announced the biggest redevelopment in St. Paul history this week when they announced the approval of the Ryan Companies plan to reshape the former Ford truck manufacturing site into a bikeable, walkable village of thousands powered by the state’s largest urban solar array.
I find the history fascinating… it was 1923 when Henry Ford purchased a 167-acre site on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, complete with its own hydro-electric plant. His intent was building a plant for producing Model Ts at that time… which expanded to Model As, Fairlanes and Ranger trucks while it was in operation from 1925 to 2011 in Highland Park. They even fabricated their own windshields with sand mined from tunnels beneath the plant itself. He wanted the plant design to be not only utilitarian, but also elegant… he insisted that it face the river like a modern-day temple to the gods of transportation.
After purchase of the site in 1923, the first Model T rolled off the production line in 1925. Ryan has said that people could start moving into new homes on the redeveloped site in 2023… 100 years after Ford purchased the site. It is interesting that the site that built about 7 million vehicles and was the reason for the construction of the Ford Parkway Bridge in 1927 to bring workers from across the river is being redeveloped with the idea of not being dependent on cars. It will be one of the few neighborhoods in St. Paul built with streets that are designed to be multi-modal… built to accommodate cyclists, walkers, cars and transit.
By 2040 this 122-acre patch of dirt is expected to have been transformed into a 40-block new urban village with up to 8,500 new residents and 1,000 new workers in homes, offices and retail spaces. Of the 3,800 housing units planned for construction, 20% will be classified as affordable.
This site that once used river-generated power to build cars will have 50 acres of green space, 10 acres of new parkland, 1,000 new trees… and will have the state’s largest urban solar array to provide power to thousands of new homes. I can hardly wait!
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – email@example.com