The city of Hugo, a northeast suburb 20 minutes from downtown St. Paul, seems to have a split personality. The east side remains mainly rural with farms, single-family houses on large acreages, snowmobile trails and lakes and streams.

The west side is brimming with new housing, upscale restaurants and businesses and services generated by a housing boom that started in 2000.

Among the dozen new neighborhoods are Victor Gardens, Fable Hill, Heritage Ponds and Waters Edge.

There's a range of housing types and styles priced from $140,000 for townhouses to $1 million-plus for single-family homes. Some developments offer a clubhouse and pool.

The average home sale price in Hugo so far this year is $271,083. There were 195 homes on the market in October, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Much of the new retail and housing is clustered along County Road 14, which "is almost like a little city," said Jen Forliti, real estate agent for Re/Max White Bear office. "But the surrounding area feels like a small town with great parks, bike trails and people riding horses down Highway 61."

The city also is redeveloping the 100-year-old blighted downtown along the east and west side of Hwy. 61 with specialty retail, a city hall and possibly senior housing.

"It will still have old-fashioned charm with trails and sidewalks connecting it to public green space next to Egg Lake," said City Administrator Mike Ericson.

Although Hugo is about the size of Woodbury and the population has almost doubled since 2000, you probably won't see big-box stores and retail sprawl, Ericson said.

"We want to retain our strong rural character," he said. "Our mayor still farms 600 acres."

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619