PAM Heads to University Avenue

MMC

PAM is hopping on the Green Line for our next real estate project. We are assisting in the development of Western U Plaza, the former home of the Minnesota Milk Company and Old Home Foods distribution center on University Avenue in St. Paul.

Despite its distinctive Art Deco façade and prime position at the intersection of University and Western Avenues, the building has stood vacant since 2006. Through a unique transit- and neighborhood-focused development plan, this vestige of the urban milk processing industry is about to become University Avenue’s newest community hub.

A nonprofit-private collaboration between Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation (ASANDC) and developer Sand Companies, Inc. will preserve the site and fill the space with affordable housing units, commercial space, and community gathering areas.

Neighborhood residents have been engaged in planning and revitalization efforts for the area surrounding the Plaza for over a decade. They were instrumental in securing more stops along the Green Line, including Western Avenue. And now their vision for Western U Plaza – a stone’s throw from the LRT station – is about to become a reality.

When creating a plan for the vacant site, ASANDC responded to the suggestions and support of the neighborhood. The community advocated for mixed housing and commercial use, green spaces, and galleries for artisans to showcase and sell their work. Locals emphasized the need for vibrant, livable, street-level spaces that are accessible from the Green Line. Even the name Western U Plaza was chosen through a community brainstorming process.

So where do we come in? PAM will facilitate a more efficient use of the Historic Tax Credit. The project takes advantage of both Low Income Housing Tax Credits and state and federal Historic Tax Credits. We want to make sure ASANDC and SCI are using these funding sources to their fullest extent. The Plaza, built in stages between 1913 and 1932, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year and is one of the last physical reminders of Minnesota’s milk processing past.

We are excited to take part in transforming this landmark from a old processing plant to a dynamic community space. Keep an eye on the changes the next time you’re walking, driving, or Green Line-ing down University.

For more information on Western U Plaza, check out this narrative on the property and neighborhood involvement from the Affordable Housing Collaboration.

~ Natalie Heneghan

Natalie is PAM’s Real Estate Intern. She is a soon-to-be graduate of Macalester College, where she studies history and statistics. Natalie’s favorite things include triathlons, any flavor of pie, and rereading To Kill a Mockingbird. 

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