Fitzgerald Park Neighborhood
The most amazing place to live you've never heard of in St. Paul, MN.
Don't let leaders sell our Park's future.
Bordering the north side of the more famous Downtown and Lowertown neighborhoods sits the Fitzgerald Park Precinct. It has blossomed into a premier residential neighborhood as plans around a new full city block park captured the imagination of so many. To the east of the planned park, the Rossmor and Produce Exchange Buildings were converted to residential lofts. To the north, the former police headquarters became The Penfield with luxury apartments and Lunds&Byerlys grocery store. To the west, the Fitzgerald Building was converted to lofts and existing condo owners at The Pointe of St. Paul and City Walk saw their property values increase. The 10th St. Green Line Train Station was built one block away. Restaurants and bars - Black Sheep Pizza, Keys Cafe, Y Camp Bar, Sawadtee, and Tin Whiskers - opened to border the park.
If the idea of a park can create so much economic activity, what is possible with an actual park? Will we be the next Lowertown?
Our 18 city blocks between 94 and 7th Street, Jackson Street and Saint Joseph's Lane include a hospital, grocery store, fire station, gas station, bank, and four churches. We have daycare to senior living, penthouse suites to homeless shelters, affordable to luxury rentals, plus nearly 1500 individually-owned middle class condominium units for a largely owner-occupied neighborhood. We are home to Minnesota Pubic Radio, History Theater, Fitzgerald Theater, and six buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. We are a complete, fully walkable small town, perfectly placed between St. Paul's business core and the Minnesota State Capitol.
Our momentum to become the next 'best place to live in St. Paul' seemed inevitable when the police were funded 18 million dollars to build a new training facility. The stated reason for moving was a plan "to remove the building and develop the site into a park." (Log. No. CF-6603207)
A full city block park for the north side of downtown has been a city goal for over 20 years. The first piece of the park became a reality in 2009 when the Pedro family donated two buildings, their former luggage factory and store, that bordered the city-owned Police Annex Building. This video captures how momentous and how hopeful city leaders were to begin building the park.
In an unexpected 180 degree change, former Mayor Chris Coleman led efforts to sell the building for use as creative office space.
There are so many things wrong with this we've dedicated a website to it:
- Past contracts and agreements will be broken - specifically the Comprehensive Plan and the Donation Agreement with the Pedro family.
- Parkland will be sold away from downtown again. In 2000 Town Square Park was lost, in 1975, Central Park was lost. 2018 we risk loosing 30-80% of Pedro Park.
- An emerging premier residential neighborhood risks obscurity and stagnation without an anchor park to develop around.
- Current unhealthy office vacancy rates of 16-20% will likely be made worse.
- Downtown's office core begins 2 blocks south opposite 7th St. - a surprising world away. Literally 1000's of people live and sleep across the street from this proposed development.
- Office advocates say the park will be expanded around the office building. A business office in a residential park?
- The alley serving the Annex Building means cars would forever drive through and divide any expanded parkland.
- It will cost over $10,000,000 more to develop 2 additional acres of parkland downtown (even after profits, 20 years of park maintenance, and projected tax revenue are accounted for) if we sell the Annex Building.
- The existing pocket park, however nice, is not big enough to serve the Park and Recreational needs of 10,000+ downtown residents currently living without backyards or access to basic park amenities such as picnic tables, a playground for school age children, sport courts, or a dog park.
Developer status was given to the Ackerberg Group in Nov. 2017, meaning they have exclusive right to buy the property should four of seven council members like their final offer. We must tell city council members to oppose selling the Police Annex Building and support its conversion to a public park. A view supported by:
- Saint Paul's Comprehensive Plan.
- The Capitol River Council.
- Three Council Members and Mayor Melvin Carter (on the campaign).
- The surviving Pedro family donor.
- Near unanimous support of neighbors.
One vote stands between a macro vision to ignite growth for an entire neighborhood and city or a micro vision to develop one building.