Phalen Boulevard, a new 2.5 mile urban access road built along a blighted rail corridor in St. Paul, MN provides access to hundreds of acres of originally contaminated land for redevelopment.
Project Type:Access Road Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:18,000 Length (mi):2.70
Economic Distress:0.85 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):3196 Population Growth Rate (%):-0.61
Employment Growth Rate (%):0.48 Market Size:1,403,056 Airport Travel Distance:23 Topography:4
Region:Great Lakes / Plains State:MN County:County
City:St. Paul Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:N/A
Impact Area:County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:44.965730 / -93.070036
Initial Study Date:N/A Post Constr. Study Date:2008
Constr. Start Date:2000 Constr. End Date:2004
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): N/A Planned Cost (YOE $):50,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):60,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):68,386,342
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||114.56||68.44||183.00|
|Output (in $M's)||329.45||196.80||526.25|
Phalen Boulevard, a new 2.5 mile urban access road built along a blighted rail corridor in St. Paul, MN provided access to hundreds of acres of contaminated land for redevelopment. As a result, an attractive, landscaped boulevard has been created through a former swath of industrial blight. The project, completed, in 2006, has so far attracted an estimated $500 million in private investment. The new boulevard has breathed new life into some of the city's oldest neighborhoods and has brought an estimated 2000 good jobs within reach of some of the city's poorest residents. The project has won eleven national and state awards for excellence in planning, design, and economic development.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Phalen Boulevard is a new 2.5 mile east-west access road in East St. Paul, MN linking I-35 on the west with Johnson Parkway on the east. It is the main connector to I-35E, St. Paul's major north-south axis for the four neighborhoods that it serves. The new road is built along a Burlington-Northern freight line which formerly served the businesses here. The BN line now serves through traffic connecting with Chicago, but does not provide freight transportation for the new businesses which have located in the corridor. Additional modal connections in the form of pedestrian paths and bike lanes have been incorporated into the Phalen Boulevard Corridor. The nearest airport is Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport, 10 miles southwest of Phalen Blvd. on I-35E.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Minnesota's capital, Saint Paul, has a reputation as the "quieter" of the Twin Cities. In contrast to Minneapolis, it is older, less expensive to live, and slower-paced. The City is notable for its quaint Victorian buildings clustered around the rivers and railroads on which the city was built. The City is full of contrasts. The east side of St. Paul, where Phalen Blvd. is located, is surrounded by some of the city's oldest neighborhoods. These areas housed the working class population that fed the heavy industrial plants that flourished here during the late nineteenth and early 20th century in the Phalen Corridor.
The Phalen Boulevard Corridor encompasses the oldest industrial corridor in East St. Paul. This is an area that was traditionally home to new immigrants, who worked in the large factories and breweries that once lined the rail line. Such traditional firms as Whirlpool, Hamm's Brewery, and 3M were located here. Due to structural economic changes that began in the 1960's and 1970's, these old industrial giants began to shift production to suburban locations and to the south, leaving a chain of derelict sites lining the corridor. Descendants of European immigrants left East St. Paul and were replaced by new waves of Latinos and Hmong from Laos. East St. Paul is now home to 26,000 Hmong people, the largest concentration of this tribe in the U.S.
Since 2000, St. Paul's population has continued to decline, but the number of jobs has increased by 11,400 since the beginning of the millennium, a growth of 3%. This is about half of the state average but is significant, given the past pattern of job loss which has plagued Minnesota's capital city over the past half century. Per capita income in St. Paul has increased by over 12% during these years ? a rate that is twice the state average. Economic distress (as measured by the unemployment rate) has also increased, but at only half of the rate of the state average increase.
Phalen Boulevard is an attractive new urban avenue that runs along a 2.5 mile freight rail corridor that formerly serviced the large, heavy industrial sites along the rail line. Motives for the project were complex: transportation, economic development, social welfare, blight removal, housing redevelopment, recreational and environmental. Transportation motives were driven by the need to provide better access to sites along the route and to reduce dangerously high traffic volumes, congestion, and accident rates on residential sections of Maryland Avenue, Tedesco Street, and Johnson Parkway. The project was also intended to eliminate traffic circulation problems within the neighborhoods. The new Phalen Boulevard was designed to connect the East Side directly to I-35E, I-95, Shepard/Warner Road, and downtown.
Equally as important as transportation motives were economic development goals for the project. Unemployment in the Phalen Corridor had increased from 7.8% in 1980 to 9.1% in 1990, compared with citywide rates of 4.7% and 6% in those years. The poverty rate increased to 22% and the proportion of single-parent families grew by 12%. Meanwhile, the value of industrial property in the district declined by almost 50%. The Phalen Boulevard project sought to address these conditions by providing access to hundreds of acres of contaminated, inaccessible brownfield sites for redevelopment. These sites were formerly occupied by heavy industry fronting onto the rail tracks and backing onto narrow residential streets. These sites lacked the visibility and road access required by modern service industries. Most of them were contaminated with toxic material and could not be marketed for clean uses.
Construction costs for the Phalen Boulevard totaled $60 million (2004$). Another $100 million (2004$) was spent on providing an interchange with I-35E. The project was funded by a variety of private and public sources including state bonding, the City of St. Paul, Community Development Block Grant loans, Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds, corporate financing, and funds raised from a variety of private foundations. For brownfield clean up and site works EDA, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and Minnesota brown fields funding programs were tapped.
The lead agency for site acquisition, road works, and brown field cleanup was the St. Paul Port Authority. But the partnership that brought the project to fruition was collaboration among 60 different groups emphasizing local roots and involvement, broad-based partnership, private sector involvement, and support for developers. Key partners included Wells Fargo Bank, 3M Corporation, the East Side Area Business Association, Community Planning Councils, the City of St. Paul, Hmong American Partnership, McKnight Foundation, Metropolitan State University, and others. The project was overseen by a Project Director, who worked with these disparate groups and interests to achieve consensus and to bring the project to fruition over a nine-year planning phase that spanned the mid nineties and the early 2000s. Construction began in 2003 and was completed by 2006.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The project removed an estimated 15,000 vehicles a day from Maryland Avenue, which was the main access onto I-35E until Phalen Boulevard was built. This alleviated both congestion and dangerously high traffic volumes resulting in both safety and environmental improvements along this narrow residential street. The project enhanced the regional connectivity for the previously back-lying neighborhoods in the corridor by providing direct interstate access. Phalen Boulevard is a fast, attractive connector onto both Interstates 35E and I-94.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
A number of medical offices and clinics have clustered on the western end of Phalen Boulevard on a site that was formerly a rail yard. Westminster Junction contains two large medical office buildings and a number of smaller related industrial buildings. Twelve businesses have located here, bringing 950 jobs and generating $1.8 million a year in property taxes. Other health care enterprises have located in the attractive buildings that line the western flank of the boulevard, including an HMO.
At the east end of the corridor, many acres of wetlands were restored in Phalen Park and Golf course and Lake Phalen was recreated. This side of the corridor is anchored by the high-end campus of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that located at Phalen and Maryland in anticipation of the completion of the boulevard. Also at the corridor's east end is the Ames Lake Shopping center, anchored by a supermarket with small shops serving the community. These amenities have enhanced the residential appeal of the Phalen Village neighborhood for both young families and elderly residents.
In addition to the sites that have been redeveloped, a number of key sites have been cleared and cleaned and are ready for new users. These include:
The 47 acre former 3M site, which has been renamed the ?Beacon Bluff? site, is being marketed by the Port Authority for medical transportation and warehousing services.
The Phalen Corridor has attracted an estimated $500 million in private investment by 19 businesses which have brought an estimated 2000 jobs to impoverished East St. Paul. Over 1000 new housing units have been built along the new boulevard, breathing new life into the old neighborhoods here. Development has been most successful in the western end of the corridor, where Phalen Boulevard connects to I-35E, St. Paul's principal north-south axis.
No new development would have occurred on Phalen Boulevard without significant investment in brownfields clean up. Contaminated industrial sites were cleaned and sold to developers for $1 to offset the perceived risks of locating on an inner city site. Attractive streetscape in the form of stone retaining walls and iron fencing line the road, along with quality light fixtures, creating a high quality environment. Other site works, like the creation of Phalen Lake and Park at the east end of the boulevard, which had been blighted by a 1960's strip mall that was sinking in the wetlands terrain, further enhanced the corridor's appeal to new residential and retail development. The State has located a large attractive campus of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to anchor the east end of the Phalen Corridor, where redevelopment progress has been slower than on the western end, which has more direct interstate highway links.
City of St. Paul, MN, Phalen Corridor Redevelopment Proposal, March 1993
Cooperative Conservation Case Study, Phalen Corridor Brownfields Redevelopment, http://www.cooperativeconservationamerica.org/viewproject.asp?pid=998
Phalen Corridor Development Strategy Summary, Addendum to the Comprehensive Plan for Saint Paul, April 4. 2001.
Phalen Corridor Initiative ? Case Study from the Working with industries for Win-Wins.
St. Paul Port Authority Developed Business Centers. www.sppa.com
US Department of Transportation Federal highway Administration, Category 2- Urban Highway: Surface Streets, Award of Excellence, www. fhwa.dot/gov/eihd/2008.www.nextstep.state.mn.us
OrganizationCity of Saint Paul, Planning Department. Forest Lake Contracting. Phalen Corridor Initiative.