Ground was broken Monday for one of the first major redevelopment projects to spring up along the Green Line light-rail route on St. Paul’s University Avenue.

The project, Hamline Station, will provide more than 100 affordable rental units and commercial space at the corner of University and Hamline avenues on the site of a vacant car dealership.

“When you’re one of the first out, you need to do it right, you need to do it big, you need to really make it happen the right way. I just think that we’ve got that,” said Paul Williams, executive director of Project for Pride in Living (PPL), the nonprofit developer of the site.

“The combination of the retail space, the common areas, the green space, higher density — it’s kind of modeling all those things that a lot of folks are talking about in terms of transit-oriented development.”

The $28 million project, scheduled to open next summer, will rely on about $9 million in government help, including a $3.25 million grant from the Met Council, according to the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC).

It will feature twin four-story buildings, one with 57 units and the other with 51 units. All the rental units will be affordable. There also will be 14 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless or disabled residents.

More than 13,000 square feet of commercial space will be on the first floor.

“It is about creating that opportunity,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said at the groundbreaking. “It is about bringing all of the partners together to make these things happen and to use this Green Line as a catalytic piece of future development, again not just about moving people but about building community.”

The project has a number of public, private and nonprofit partners, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, the Metropolitan Council, St. Paul, US Bank, Bremer Bank, the Family Housing Fund, Twin Cities Community Land Bank and Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation.

There are several other projects that are going up or already have been built near the Green Line. Examples include the Old Home Dairy building, which is being renovated with government grants into low- and moderate-income apartments and commercial space, and Frogtown Square, a 2011 project at University and Dale Street that features affordable apartments for seniors above restaurants and stores.


Twitter: @stribnorfleet