St. Paul residents and developers are envisioning a revitalized Midway area, where construction of the Minnesota United soccer stadium is scheduled to begin this year.

Construction of the $120 million, 20,000-seat stadium is just one — albeit large — piece of a plan to redevelop a 34.5-acre site at the intersection of Snelling and University avenues.

“This has to be a cohesive project,” United owner Bill McGuire told members of a community advisory committee on Thursday. “This stadium … is forming a catalyst that is real and tangible for the development of the community.”

John Clifford, an architect working on a master plan for the site, described a so-called “urban village” that will include open space and residential, retail, entertainment and office space.

The site is roughly the size of 12 blocks in downtown St. Paul, Clifford said, but it is “significantly underutilized.”

It currently includes a shopping center, a former Metro Transit bus storage site and a lot of parking space.

Details about future development were scant at Thursday’s meeting, where officials got feedback from the community. The streetscape design will start to take shape this month, officials said.

Residents urged planners to make the area walkable.

Renee Klitzke Spillum lives in the Midway area but said she rarely walks through it.

“The pedestrian environment is terrible,” she said, adding that she is excited about the ideas Clifford proposed.

The new development will be connected to surrounding neighborhoods by sidewalks and bike paths, as well as the Green Line light rail and a bus rapid-transit route, Clifford said.

McGuire also described a stadium he said will fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. “This is not some behemoth,” he said; it will be something that “complements and energizes” the area.

Ideas for what the stadium will look like will not come out for at least another month, McGuire said. But he said the building would have an overhang that would cover part of the stadium seating and would block some light and noise pollution during events.

Jobs work group created

The city is aiming to increase the number of jobs and businesses around the proposed soccer stadium, and has formed a new group to lead the effort.

The work group will also help employees and businesses by the stadium weather the side effects of construction, said Jonathan Sage-Martinson of St. Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development.

The site contains the Midway Shopping Center, which is anchored by a Rainbow Foods. “This is an important job site now,” Sage-Martinson said. “We hope it’s an even more important job site in the future.”

The work group will meet with current business owners to figure out new locations on or near the site, he said. The work group will help with the training and re-employment of any displaced workers, he said.

Group members are to present their strategies to attract and retain businesses to the Planning Commission this April.