Edina Developer Plans Two Apartment Buildings Near St. Paul’s Harriet Island – Twin Cities


Just east of St. Paul’s Harriet Island Regional Park, an Edina-based developer plans to replace vacant warehouses with at least two new residential buildings along Water Street and Plato Boulevard, a project dubbed Farwell Yards.

Buhl Investors plans 221 housing units in a new market-priced mixed-residential-commercial building at 150 Water St., as well as 56 to 70 affordable apartments at 115 Plato Boulevard, which is to the south. On Friday, the St. Paul Planning Commission will consider a request from the developer to rezone the two properties from “transitional industrial” to “traditional T3 neighborhood,” which would allow a building height of 55 feet instead of 50.

Rezoning would also reduce the pressure to obtain commercial leases on the ground floor. In traditional neighborhood neighborhoods, unlike “IT” neighborhoods, the first floor of a mixed-use building need not consist of 50% or more non-residential uses. A third property, 102 Water Street, would retain its current transitional industrial zoning.

The existing site spans two long-vacant warehouse buildings, a garage with metal pole structures and a vacant varnish factory, all of which would be demolished.

A recent staff report to the Planning Commission Zoning Committee noted that there is no more sanitary sewer capacity in the area west of Wabasha Street, south of the river and north cliffs. The city’s planning and economic development and public works division has analyzed upgrade options and is undertaking a preliminary design phase.

“Permission for construction projects at Farwell Yards will be dependent on the progress of these sewer upgrades,” the staff report said. Otherwise, the rezonings have already gained the support of city staff and the zoning committee.

There’s still work to be done, Buhl spokesman Blois Olson said, “putting the packages together, getting the retail, making sure we get the sewers.” The sewer is critical.

Developer Buhl Investors will launch a $51 million project in mid-August 2021 to transform a historic art deco office building in Falcon Heights into affordable apartments. When work is complete in late 2022, the redevelopment project, called Amber Union, will include 125 new affordable housing units and 936 square feet of new commercial/retail space located on the southwest corner of Avenues Snelling and Surveyor. (Courtesy of Buhl Investors)

Buhl Investors was visible in Saint-Paul and in the Est metro.

Peter Deanovic and Buhl Investors purchased the ACVR warehouse at 106 Water St. in 2019, and despite rent increases, have largely successful in retaining many artists who called the former Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk & Co. warehouse their workhouse.

Buhl Investors, which redeveloped the historic Soap Factory Building in Minneapolis, is also adding 125 affordable apartments to the historic Amber Union, formerly known as the TIES Building, on the southwest corner of Surveyor and Snelling Avenue at Falcon Heights.

The 1940s Art Deco-style building was used as the headquarters of the Farmers Grain Union Terminal Association, or “GTA,” and its successors for more than five decades. The company is now known as CHS Inc., based in Inver Grove Heights.


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