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 217 healthy apartments, affordable and market rate, along with space for local businesses 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 an Urban Forest that will feature public art. PLACE’s patent-pending E-Generation process is a neighborhood-scale food and energy system 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. 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
- Urban forest
- Car-free living
- LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design)
- Powered by renewable energy
The Via Sol apartments open in Summer 2022
Like all our projects, our St. Louis Park effort is being designed to generate multiple public benefits, including:
- The project is expected to create 450 jobs, including 44 permanent jobs according to the Met Council formula.
- E-Generation™ will generate the majority of the project's energy from renewable sources, as well as grow organic food for the community.
- Urban Forest open to the public, adjacent to the Cedar Lake Trail.
- Sustainability educational opportunities
- Car-free living incentives & resources for Via Sol residents, decreasing local traffic.
The project has already brought nearly $5 million in grant funds from the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County, and Minnesota DEED for demonstrating excellence in transit-oriented development, sustainability, and job creation.
- The PLACE SLP Community Via Sol residential building with 217 apartments (including 18 live/work spaces for creatives) is under construction.
- The E-Generation™ building design is being further developed for optimal growth of organic produce in the year-round greenhouse, which will be powered by the community-scale anaerobic digester.
- PLACE and the project team are working with the Museum of Outdoor Arts to plan and implement art installations across the site, predominantly in the Urban Forest that is open to the public.
- We continue pursuing certification in LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) for both the Via Sol residential building and the E-Generation renewable food + energy building.
- Unfortunately, PLACE was unable to meet City requirements placed on the portion of the project south of the Wooddale LRT Station, on 36th Street, and had to stop work on the hotel, south residential live/work, theater/community gathering space, and the Arts & Transit Plaza.
- The Via Sol residential and E-Generation renewable food + energy openings are anticipated for summer of 2021.
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."
PLACE's Project Team includes MSR Architects, Greiner Construction, Rachel Contracting, Horwitz, Escape Fire Protection, Wells Concrete, LIFT, OMC Group, Barr Engineering, Guaranty Title, MetroPlains Management, Spark-Y, Museum of Outdoor Arts, Kandiyo Consulting, Greener Point Consulting, Yablo Commercial Real Estate, US Internet, Sundial, Ben Franklin Electric, Gresser, Alpine Construction, DG Welding, Innovative Structural Solutions, and American Engineering Testing.
Independent, 3rd-party accounting and feasibility: Novogradac
Lenders, Lender Compliance Team, Underwriters: Invesco, BuildFund, Stifel Nicholas, UMB Financial Corporation, CBRE, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), City of St. Louis Park Economic Development Authority
- Livable Communities Demonstration Account - Transit-Oriented Development (LCDA-TOD) Predevelopment Grant 2014
- Livable Communities Demonstration Account - Transit-Oriented Development (LCDA-TOD) Development Grant 2015
- Livable Communities Demonstration Account - Transit-Oriented Development (LCDA-TOD) Development Grant 2017
- Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Program Grant
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment (EPA Brownfields) Grant
- Environmental Response Fund (ERF) Grant
- Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) Grant
- Contamination Cleanup and Investigation Grant
- In-kind donation of electrical engineering design
- Energy Design Assistance (EDA) Program
- Free use of a powerful project management platform, allowing our national project team to easily communicate, share materials, and collaborate at a fast paced speed.
- Free use of extensive building design software, allowing PLACE to work with the design team around the community's many innovative components. Building Information Modeling (BIM) enables full collaboration among the project designers, builders, and engineers.
Q: What is the application process to live here?
A: Those interested in joining the PLACE St. Louis Park Via Sol community can reach out to MetroPlains Management. They can answer questions around the affordable, market-rate, and live/work application process:
Learn more about Via Sol residences and see floor plans here.
You can also connect to MetroPlains about an application here.
Q: How do I inquire about the commercial space?
A: The Via Sol residential building provides 5,000 square feet of commercial space split into two storefronts currently planned as a bike shop and a maker space. For those interested in this space, please contact Rich Yablonsky with Yablo Commercial Real Estate, Inc.
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, and that the city was losing business due to insufficient hotel rooms. In addition, the hotel provides an opportunity for PLACE to create jobs for our residents. Especially helpful for lower-income residents, the hotel allows us to bundle jobs and housing. The hotel further helps to balance our revenue model. Finally, PLACE is working with the nearby Park Nicollet Clinics and Methodist Hospital to provide lower cost hotel rooms for patients that do not need to stay overnight in the hospital and their family members.
The hotel will no longer be part of the development.
Q: When will it open?
A: The Via Sol residential building and E-Generation openings are anticipated for summer of 2022.
Q: What is E-Generation and why put it here?
A: E-Generation™ is a neighborhood-scale 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, odorless system to convert organics into energy, 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. E-Generation is a safe, clean way to help power and feed our campus.
Click here for more information on anaerobic digestion.
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 Via Sol residential building will be five-stories tall. We want to build more vertically so we can leave more of the ground plane available for public spaces, such as PLACE’s Urban Forest that will be open to the public.
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 creatives 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. The Via Sol residential building will provide 18 live/work spaces for creatives, 10 of which will be affordable.
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 will have 215 parking spaces. 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.