After a long delay, plans to redevelop the vacant land by Allianz Field in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood appear to be back on track and ready to start this fall.

Over $100 million worth of projects will begin by the end of the year, Bill McGuire, a partner of the Snelling-Midway Redevelopment group and an owner of the Minnesota United FC soccer team, said in an interview Friday.

Grading and preliminary construction of a public park and sculpture garden and a 14,000-square-foot playground will begin this fall and is expected to finish by spring. Construction on one office building also will begin this year, according to the project group and zoning documents filed this week with the city.

"I think you will see people pretty excited about things that will happen before the end of the year," said McGuire, the former CEO of UnitedHealth Group.

It's all part of what the group is calling United Village. McGuire and his partners refiled zoning plans for the first phase of development this week with St. Paul's planning and economic development arm. The latest plans more clearly designate future subdivisions and street placement on the site between Snelling Avenue and Pascal Street and between University Avenue and Interstate 94.

The St. Paul Port Authority confirmed soil pollution remediation efforts on 7.4 acres of the 32-acre site are scheduled to begin in September.

McGuire said the major components of the master plan first filed with the city in 2016 "have no fundamental changes." Besides the park and office building, the first phase includes a hotel, retail space, parking and restaurants.

Still, given the marketplace and changing work habits, the original plans for mega office space could scale back. The phase one plan now calls only for one four-story office building.

"Could office buildings be less a part of [the plan] than they once might have been? Well, of course. Because look what's happened," McGuire said. "COVID came along. Work habits changed. And then there are the financial markets. Businesses are approaching things differently."

He acknowledged that getting to this stage of the project has been difficult.

With the Federal Reserve's increases in interest rates, mortgage rates for financing the project doubled, McGuire said. The financial markets seesawed with worries of a possible recession.

All that affected investors and timing, and caused "concern," he said. "What we know, though, is that there are some parties that are interested in this whole area of helping magnify this [region's] vitality and energy. And that is through investment."

The playground and parts of the public plaza are being privately financed.

"This is not just about doing buildings. We are trying to be very specific about [doing] things that are needed," McGuire said. "Look at all the public amenities" included in the plan.

The first phase is expected to generate a big bump in taxes and create 445 full-time jobs.

"The anticipated change to the net tax capacity for this property is significant, increasing from $214,340 to $1,974,382. That's a difference of $1,760,042," said Andrea Novak, the Port Authority's senior vice president for marketing.

City Council approved the master plan for the village in 2016. Allianz Field, home stadium to the Minnesota United, was the centerpiece and opened in April 2019. Then progress stalled, so the actions this week were met with optimism.

"We are all excited to see some traction over there. I am a St. Paul resident," said Crystal King, marketing manager with the city Planning and Economic Development Department (PED). "This is just the first phase. We expect there will be more coming down the road."

Buildings close to the stadium, including the Midway Shopping Center and Big Top Liquors store, were badly damaged during the civil unrest of May 2020 following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

The charred hulls sat vandalized, burned and vacant for well over a year. Bulldozers finally demolished the structures two years ago.

There has been no news from the developers since then.

PED Director Nicolle Goodman called the latest filings "fantastic news."

"It certainly would have gone sooner if not for COVID and civil unrest and some uncertainty from investors after the rent [increase] rules went into effect," Goodman said. "But this is fine. It is happening and its moving forward. So we are excited."

McGuire said a second phase of the project may include apartments, but he declined to elaborate.

Novak, the Port Authority vice president, said the agency received a combination of environmental clean up grants worth just under $1.5 million from the state, the Metropolitan Council and Ramsey County.

Cleanup will begin in September, allowing the removal of petroleum, dry-cleaning chemicals and non-petroleum volatile organic compounds from the land that long ago was the site of a defunct streetcar manufacturing and maintenance operation. The soil also was contaminated by leaks from a dry-cleaning business that operated next door from 1964 to 1989.