Sunday, October 22, 2006

Saint Paul: No Bridges to the Future

The St. Paul Planning Commission has rejected a request for a zoning change for The Bridges of Saint Paul, the proposed $1.5 billion development on the south shore of the Mississsippi. While this should allow those of us in Minneapolis to remain smug about being the only ones with a downtown, as a friend of the Cities it's disappointing to see the commission shoot down this opportunity. (Not all is lost, however. The developer is appealing to the city council.)

The comparisons to the St. Anthony Main, the tepid Mississippi development across from downtown Minneapolis, seem fairly unfounded. St. Anthony Main has always felt cheap and cobbled together--an urban mall where none was needed--but what is proposed in St. Paul appears to be a relatively well-thought-out mixed-use development. While not being a direct rip-off by any stretch, it's somewhat evocative of Kansas City's Country Club Plaza (more at Wikipedia). While KC overall is somewhat of a train wreck, the Plaza is fantastic, and a city like St. Paul should be able to grow off the Bridges, unlike KC has done with the relatively isolated Plaza.

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I hate to say it, but it looks like I actually agree with Joe Soucheray on this one.

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