The public is invited today to check out the work of an advisory group that has been trying to figure out the best ways to redevelop the old 3M Co. headquarters on St. Paul's East Side. Comments are welcome.
The St. Paul Port Authority already has purchased 35 of 45 acres and is in negotiations to buy the remaining parcels. It is a major chunk of land, and people have big expectations for what it can become.
The Port Authority has enlisted the advisory group to help get a sense of what neighbors would like to see in an area that has lost a lot of jobs over the decades and gained hundreds of vacant buildings.
"We want this to be a place that attracts investment," said Leslie McMurray, executive director of the District Five Planning District, which covers the Payne Phalen neighborhood.
The Port Authority has the same goal, said Monte Hilleman, vice president of redevelopment. The Port Authority buys and cleans industrial land with the goal of selling it for $1 to companies that promise to bring high-paying jobs and significant tax revenue.
"The city can't afford to sit on unused land," Hilleman said. No tenants have signed on and there has been no marketing of the site, he added.
The advisory group -- which includes residents, historic preservation experts, planners and others -- has come up with seven priorities to guide redevelopment efforts. They are:
• to preserve and enhance historic structures,
• to attract jobs,
• to focus on being environmentally friendly,
• to keep a sense of place,
• to improve transportation connections,
• to improve public safety, and
• to invest in public spaces.
"The challenge is to take the principles, look at the available land and then figure out how to build it out," Hilleman said.
There will be a few more committee meetings over the next month, with a goal of having a final redevelopment plan ready for public view in April. The Port Authority will use the final plan as a model when recruiting businesses and developers.
The industrial property, which is next to the redeveloped Phalen Corridor, served as 3M's headquarters from 1910 to 1962. It was later used to make industrial and flexible printing tapes. A number of the buildings are empty now.
While 3M officials say no contaminants have been found, the port is doing its own environmental testing.
City Council President Kathy Lantry, who also is on the Port Authority Board, has encouraged the community process.
"It's an important opportunity for people to come out and have their voices heard," she said.
Chris Havens • 612-673-4148