Penfield Mixed-Use Project May be Closer to Reality

By Camelia Bulea, Associate Editor The Penfield mixed-use project — planned to include 256 market-rate apartments and a 30.000-square-foot grocery store — has gone through several changes in the past five years. The newest proposal comes the closest to meeting the [...]

The Penfield mixed-use project — planned to include 256 market-rate apartments and a 30.000-square-foot grocery store — has gone through several changes in the past five years. The newest proposal comes the closest to meeting the area’s requirements.

The original plan for the site — situated on the northern side of downtown St. Paul — called for a high-end condominium tower. A second version included apartments, a hotel and a grocery store. Now the plan calls for 256 apartments in three buildings, none of which will be taller than six stories, as reported by Finance & Commerce. The grocery store would be entirely leased by Lund Food Holdings Inc.

The Penfield project gained traction when five local contractors responded to the city’s request for pre-qualification: Frana Cos., Knutson Construction Services, Kraus-Anderson Construction Co., Shaw-Lundquist Associates Inc. and Weis Builders.

The team involved in the Penfield project also includes companies like Alatus L.L.C., which is serving as owner’s representative for the city, and BKV Group as the project architect. Under the current structure, the developer and owner of the property would be the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which should create a limited liability company to be able to own the Penfield.

Still, the financing of the project remains unclear. While last year’s plan was to use Build America Bonds, that alternative is no longer possible, as the stimulus program ended last year. But a new possibility may be a HUD program insuring the project’s financing, the pursuit of which is currently in the works, representing the cornerstone that could turn this project into reality. If the financing issue is solved, the construction could start in spring 2012.