Midway Center finally demolished | Midway Como Frogtown Monitor
By JANE McCLURE
In early October, demolition equipment was swiftly swooping down on the remains of Midway Center. The excavators smashed the walls, and carefully picked and set aside the metal. Parts of the structure had completely disappeared, on the ground, at the beginning of the month. Other areas were falling rapidly.
A demolition permit for the fire damaged structure dating from the 1950s was issued on September 16, 2021. Demolition began on September 20. While area residents and business owners alike are delighted to see the structure removed, questions arise as to the future use of the space.
If the building is replaced with a parking lot, district council members and some neighbors want to make sure it’s not a permanent change.
On September 20, the Union Park District Council (UPDC) land use planning committee reaffirmed concerns about the parking lot and future development of the Midway Center superblock around the Allianz Field Major League Soccer stadium. The whole council added its support on October 6.
Much of the Midway Center was demolished a few years ago to make way for the stadium. The east wing at the southwest corner of University Avenue and Pascal Street remained, as did the buildings alongside the university. The mall and Big Top Liquor store were looted and torched during the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
The old Grand Chapiteau building, which served as the Perkins restaurant, was demolished in August.
Allianz Field builder Mortenson Construction hired Ramsey Companies in Brooklyn Park to handle the demolition and clean up the site.
St. Paul City Council ordered the mall building to be demolished in August following a legislative hearing. At this hearing, a representative of the building indicated that the linear shopping center would be replaced by a parking lot.
Parking is considered a provisional plan. Five years ago, the town planning commission and city council approved a master plan to redevelop the block delimited by avenues Pascal and Saint-Antoine, Snelling and University. A tax increase finance plan (TIF) was approved by city council in August and will be handed over to the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) board this fall.
The master plan foresees a park space extending from the stadium to the university, apartments, shops and offices, as well as a hotel. The lack of progress on the plan frustrated members of the UPDC and the Hamline Midway Coalition. Earlier this fall, the UPDC received an email from a neighbor on Carroll Avenue asking to see fan parking at the Midway Center site, in order to keep football fans’ vehicles away from the streets of the district.
UPDC members said they wanted to see more than just parking at the mall site and wanted to know the next steps in the development of United Villages at Midway.
“Once something is approved, it’s hard to replace it,” said Roger Meyer, member of the land use planning committee. “Parking lots tend to become permanent. “
“Although we reluctantly accept the parking proposal presented by the owners of the property, we strongly recommend that the parking remain a temporary solution,” the UPDC letter said. “Specifically, the parking lot should be left with gravel, or other permeable surface, rather than paved from a permanence point of view. We are requesting an annual review and update with the UPDC to demonstrate the continued need for this temporary parking. “
Improved maintenance is also sought, with the letter stating: ‘We recommend that the temporary parking lot be maintained, as well as the whole plot, as a significant part of the plot is currently unmaintained and is a horror to the community. and people traveling on the Green Line. “
The UPDC is asking owners to assign a maintenance manager to the superblock, so that there can be one contact for any issues on the property and adjacent right-of-way. the committee notes that the area is located in a highly visible part of the district and the “central commercial district”.
A demand for affordable housing on the property is reaffirmed, as well as a demand for the integration of small local businesses into development plans, as well as “streets, paths, surfaces and pedestrian-friendly building development in order to encourage environmentally friendly and healthy practices and policies. “
The mall has been fenced and barricaded for 16 months since it was looted and torched. Some storefronts sustained significant damage, while others suffered smoke and water damage.
The tenants were evicted in the summer of 2020. Four former tenants – Peking Garden, Golden Gate Café, Thien’s Cajun (Sweet Cajun) Boiling Seafood and Mimi’s Beauty Salon – sued in June for breach of contract, wrongful eviction and other charges. The lawsuit is against the landlord Snelling-Midway Redevelopment, LLC., The landlord and management company RD Management LLC.