The St. Paul Port Authority is transforming the city's former Hillcrest Golf Course into a mixed use development they say will provide 1,000 jobs and 1,000 units of new housing. First, they have to decide what to call it.
After weeks of collecting thousands of keywords that neighbors say best describe what they want a new Hillcrest to be, the Port Authority has settled on three potential names: Hillpoint Heights, The Heights and Eastcrest Heights. The community will vote for its favorite through Dec. 5.
According to the Port Authority website, a committee picked the finalists based on several criteria, including that the name be new and reflect a connection to the area's past and future. Committee members also preferred ideas that recognized Hillcrest being St. Paul's highest point, according to the website.
While a slew of words didn't make the cut, other suggestions will be "considered for future phases of the project. Opportunities could include the residential area, the business park, green spaces, trails, roads and other public nodes," according to the website.
Words that recognize the area's Native American history, as well the East Side's sizable Hmong population, are possibilities.
The golf course opened in 1921. Steamfitters Pipefitters Local 455 bought Hillcrest in 2011 for about $4 million and closed the golf club six years later.
Nearly as big as Highland Bridge, the former Ford site in Highland Park, but not situated in as tony an area near the Mississippi River bluffs, the 112-acre Hillcrest site at the city's northeast corner has been dormant since the golf course closed.
In 2019, the St. Paul City Council approved borrowing $10 million to finance the Port Authority's purchase. Port Authority officials say their experience redeveloping polluted "brownfield" sites makes them a good choice for Hillcrest. Decades of using a fungicide on the greens at Hillcrest will require a cleanup before it can be developed further.
Some in the neighborhood have objected to the Port Authority's emphasis on attracting light manufacturing jobs to the site. Advocates say the focus should be on creating even more affordable housing.