A few new details about the proposed Whole Foods-anchored apartment complex in St. Paul emerged at the Union Park District Council meeting Tuesday night. The expansive project will forever change the Union Park neighborhood.

First, a rendering of the project, called The Vintage of Selby, was shown to a crowd of perhaps 75 people, most of whom live in the neighborhood. This portion of the project, located at the intersection of Snelling and Selby avenues, includes a 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery, plus 208 apartment units, as well as parking for residents and store customers.

The size of the units is still being determined, but rents could range from $1,000 to $4,000 a month, said Chris Culp, president of the Excelsior Group, which has partnered with Ryan Cos. to develop the project.

A rendering was also released of the new Associated Bank branch, which is moving north on the property where Snelling intersects with Dayton Av. This will be the first building to be constructed, beginning early next year, with completion slated for May or June, according to Tony Barranco, vice president of development for Ryan Cos. Once it is completed work will begin on the grocery-apartment portion of the project.

All told, the project will take two years to complete, he said.

Given the busy nature of the street corner, traffic and parking were the top concerns of neighbors and business owners. The current parking lot at the Associated Bank branch is widely used as a free lot for other area businesses beyond the bank. Since that will go away once the new development is built, the question looms large as to where business patrons will park.

A report prepared by Craig Blakely, St. Paul's parking expert, suggested creating a parking improvement district in the area establishing paid on-street parking with kiosks, permit parking for employees working in the area, and a free parking lot on land east of Snelling Av. on Dayton, which would be leased by the city from Ryan and involve local businesses paying a fee to help maintain it. There was also talk of establishing free lot on the west side of Snelling Av.

Although it's still early in the planning process, Blakely urged business owners and neighbors to craft an comprehensive parking plan sooner, rather than later. "You are at a moment of change in your neighborhood," he said.

Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.




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