A final piece of property needed for a new 5-acre park near the Green Line in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood has been purchased, officials with the city and the Trust for Public Land said Wednesday.
While fundraising to develop the park near Griggs Street and University Avenue is the next step, officials said, the neighborhood’s long desire for green space in a gray expanse of parking lots and commercial properties is closer to reality.
“It is a rare opportunity to be able to create such a large, vibrant green space in an urban area,” Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement. “We are thrilled that our collaboration with The Trust for Public Land will allow us to establish a community gathering space along the Green Line.”
The trust bought the final parcel with private funds, then donated it to the city. The other two parcels that will make up the yet-to-be-named park were bought with a combination of private funds and money from the city’s 8-80 Vitality Fund. Negotiations have been going on for at least several weeks, but city officials said the owners of the three parcels were willing to discount the sale price of the land, given that it was to be used as a park. In all, the city and the trust set aside about $2.5 million for the purchase.
“Our vision is for everyone to have a park within a 10-minute walk of their home,” said Susan Schmidt, Minnesota state director for the trust. “The park at Griggs Street will make an immediate and lasting impact on this community. We have a lot of work to do, and look forward to helping the community and the city design and build the new park.”
Efforts now turn to raising money to develop the park, which will serve as both a rare green destination along the Green Line and a park for the neighborhood. Residents of the nearby Skyline Tower apartment building and students of neighboring Gordon Parks High School have lobbied for years for the city to turn the land into a park.
“This diverse community is excited as neighbors have been patiently waiting for a park for many years,” said City Council Member Dai Thao, who represents the area.
According to a green space assessment, just 2.3 percent of the Midway neighborhood is dedicated to parkland. Overall, the city average is 15 percent. The new park will be within a 10-minute walk of more than 2,600 residents — 30 percent of them children and 9 percent of them elderly.
Once known as Circus Hill, the 5-acre site was a gathering spot for circuses that came to St. Paul from 1860 to 1945. In recent years, the area has been part of a parking lot and a couple of vacant lots.