A New Eco-Village and Creative Center
PLACE is collaborating with the City of St. Louis Park to create a mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented community demonstrating profound environmental design. Located on Minnesota’s future southwest light rail line and the largest dedicated regional bike trail in the country, this community will offer 299 healthy apartments, affordable and market rate, along with space for local businesses, a new hotel, and live/work space designed for creatives. It will be one of the most intensely transit-oriented communities in the nation, offering multiple transportation alternatives to the car. The project will provide access to nature in an urban setting, via green rooftop decks and a one-acre urban forest that will feature public art. The development will be powered by PLACE’s patent-pending E-Generation process that unites multiple sustainable energy sources, including the creation of renewable energy from organics, and the growth of organic produce in onsite greenhouses.
Every PLACE project relies on a deep and robust community process, and St. Louis Park is no different -- we will be leading dozens of public meetings throughout the project's development, and we encourage you to sign up to receive updates so that you can join us.
- Homes for people across the income spectrum
- Live/work space for creatives
- Commercial/retail space or local businesses
- Affordable storefront/living space for micro-businesses
- Urban forest
- Car-free living
Like all our projects, our St. Louis Park effort is being designed to generate multiple public benefits, including:
- The project is expected to create 600 jobs, including 119 permanent jobs according to the Met Council formula.
- Our hotel and businesses will generate jobs specifically for people living onsite.
- The entire project will be constructed using Union labor and will pay prevailing wages.
- The development will generate an estimated $1.1 million in annual taxes.
- E-Generation will generate the majority of the project's energy from renewable sources, as well as grow organic food for the community.
The project has already brought nearly $3 million in grant funds from the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County for demonstrating excellence in transit-oriented development and job creation. In addition the project has leveraged nearly $4 million in private investment. It is expected to be financed with a variety of sources including the market sale of tax credits and bonds.
The project site is located just south of Highway 7, and bordered closely by Highway 100 and Wooddale Avenue. It's directly adjacent to the future southwest light rail line, with a station being built at Wooddale Avenue. Our initial designs focus on the regional bike and pedestrian trail, using it as our "main street."
Q: What is "Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)?"
A: Transit-oriented development refers to building communities that are walkable, and bikeable, with a mix of uses, including living, working, commercial-retail, and job creation that leverages investments in transit, and reduces dependence on the automobile. TOD has been shown to multiply public investments in transit, especially light rail. PLACE builds TOD communities to make living more affordable, more environmentally friendly, and more socially equitable. (For more information: click here)
Q: What happened to the preschool?
A: We have been working closely with Treehouse Academy and Infant Center, a St. Louis Park based Reggio child development center that would serve the children of our community and the larger neighborhood. Unfortunately, preliminary traffic study results indicated that a preschool, where many parents pick up and drop off at rush hour, was too big an impact. Unfortunately, we were forced to cut the pre-school from our development program.
Q: Why a hotel?
A: We heard early in our process that there was a need for hotel rooms in St. Louis Park. We are helping to keep more business in the city. In addition, the hotel provides an opportunity for PLACE to create jobs for our residents. Especially helpful for lower-income residents, the hotel allows to bundle jobs and housing. The hotel further helps to balance our revenue model.
Q: When will it open?
A: Our current schedule is to break ground in spring of 2017, and open in summer of 2018.
Q: What is E-Generation and why put it here?
A: E-Generation™ is PLACE's patent-pending system that produces organic food and energy for the community. St. Louis Park already has a composting program for its organics (food waste). E-Generation is better than composting in that we use naturally-occurring microbes in a closed system to convert organics into energy, organic fertilizer and heat. We use the heat and energy to power the community, which reduces energy bills for the people who live and work there, and we use the fertilizer to grow food for the community.
Q: How is a nonprofit developer different from a standard for-profit developer?
A: PLACE is a 501(c)(3), a publicly-supported charity, like Goodwill, or Big Brothers Big Sisters. We exist to improve people's lives and their communities through the creation of places that bring together, homes, food, transportation, energy, art and culture, education and jobs. Our projects are not designed and created for profit. They are designed and created for public benefit.
We are governed by a volunteer national Board of Directors, who are dedicated to our mission. If we earn money from a project, we must reinvest it to create more public benefit. The PLACE Team are paid salaries and cannot earn profit from the organization. We are audited frequently to assure our good standing as a charity.
Q: How tall will it be?
A: The buildings will be six-stories tall. We want to build more vertically so we can leave more of the ground plane available for public space (A woonerf and an urban art forest). While St. Louis Park is not a city of tall buildings, this site is unique. Because of our location, we will not shade any neighbors, nor will we loom over neighbors. If there is any site in the city that seems to fit a taller building, this would be it. We originally proposed a tall feature of fourteen stories when our site was confined to the North of the LRT station. Now that we have an opportunity to build on the South of the station, we have decreased the buildings to six-stories.
Q: Why live/work space for creatives?
A: PLACE has a mission to support the arts for communities. Well-designed live/work space is the best way we know of to support the work of creatives (artists, artisans, makers, technologists). Furthermore, such space is extremely difficult for them to find—let alone afford—in the marketplace. Also, live/work space is the most dense form of economic development, bringing both residents and small businesses to the community. Many small businesses will be incubated here. Of our proposed 100 live/work spaces, approximately 60 will be affordable to households below 60% of AMI (Area Median Income), and 40 of them will be market rate.
Q: What is "Car-Free Living"
A: PLACE is creating a program to promote car-free living. It involves creating live/work space, so that people are living and working in the same space and do not need to commute to work. It involves creating jobs on site, so again, people need not commute to work. The program will make transit passes available to car-free households so they can make use of the transit offered in the area. The program will also provide shared cars and bikes so that people can use the amazing bike trail that runs through our project. Finally, we will offer payments for car-free households to make car-free living even more beneficial. Car-free living can dramatically reduce traffic congestion. Savings from car-free living are more-likely to be invested in the local economy.
Q: How much parking will there be?
A: We are planning 443 spaces, mostly subterranean. There will be no park-and-ride spaces, as those are being provided at the Beltline and Louisiana stations. Parking spaces are being planned in conjunction with PLACE's "Car-Free Living" program. PLACE had considered its GreenPark™ robotic parking for this site, but had to defer its use when we divided the site North/South.