St. Paul is on the rise.

The Capital City boasted the biggest population growth in the Twin Cities last year, according to new Metropolitan Council estimates tallying residents across the seven-county metro area. That honor normally goes to Minneapolis, the largest city in the region, which added fewer residents than St. Paul last year for the first time in a decade.

Met Council staff cautioned that comparing year-to-year changes in their estimates is an imperfect measure, since they refine the methodology and data each year. But they confirmed St. Paul permitted and completed the most new housing units, a key factor in how they calculate population growth. That's compared with more than 180 other communities in the region.

The tally was close. St. Paul gained 4,700 new residents — only about 700 more than Minneapolis' gain over that period.

"It's a very strong market right now," said St. Paul Housing Director Patty Lilledahl. "We have low vacancy rates and there's a lot of capital, in terms of the investors that are willing to invest."

She added: "There's lots of interest to move back to the city. And demand will help dry supply."

Both cities have seen major population increases since 2010. Minneapolis has grown by nearly 11 percent, while St. Paul has grown by 8.4 percent. About 65,000 more people live in the two central cities than did in 2010.

The seven-county metro area as a whole has grown by about 8 percent, or 225,000 residents, in that time.

Other standouts in the latest round of estimates include Blaine, which has expanded by 14 percent since 2010, and Woodbury, which grew by 12 percent. Those cities added 8,100 and 7,400 people, respectively.

Eric Roper