An initial effort to redevelop the former West Publishing Co. site along the St. Paul riverfront has fallen apart.
Ramsey County officials called off a partnership with Phoenix-based Cardon Development Group before reaching final terms on a $225 million mixed-use project that would have included an upscale hotel, 300-unit housing complex, offices, retail space and a parking facility.
The agreement with Cardon for the site, once the location of the former Ramsey County jail and West Publishing buildings, was expected to be complete by the end of the summer.
In a statement issued Friday, Ramsey County said Cardon spent five months researching market conditions and received "significant, credible residential and commercial interest in the site from across the country." But the snag came in the size and cost of the parking structure that would serve as the base of the buildings.
Cardon had determined that the hotel and other buildings they planned would need about 1,000 parking spaces but, in order for those buildings to be at physical grade with Kellogg Boulevard, a structure of 2,500 parking spaces would be needed. It wanted help from the county to pay for the larger parking structure.
Ramsey County has already spent $17 million to demolish the buildings that previously existed on the site and officials were reluctant to pledge more public spending.
"Their design called for that parking structure and they couldn't make the numbers work without more subsidy," Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega said Monday. "We decided it makes more sense for us to part ways."
Ramsey County officials are reanalyzing the market for parking and the challenges with the site.
"I think it's just a matter of time," said Ortega, who represents downtown. "We've cleaned it up. It's done. … We'll just keep the ball rolling."
The property is a prominent one on a bluff along the river in the heart of downtown.
It has been off the county tax rolls since 1992, when West moved to a campus it built in Eagan. The company in 1996 was bought by Canada's Thomson, now Thomson Reuters Corp.