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A new 900-unit urban village housing project on the West Side Flats along the Mississippi River in St. Paul has gotten a major boost following an agreement between the City of St. Paul and developer Jerry Trooien. Trooien, St. Paul’s largest property owner, has also agreed to sell land needed for a new U.S. Bancorp service center.

West Side Flats is one of four major housing developments planned or underway in downtown St. Paul. The project, with a public and private cost of up to $200 million, is the largest ever done with the involvement of the City of St. Paul. The plan involves public amenities, such as a park, restaurants and stores, along with offices, apartments and condominiums.

The development is planned for a 45-acre site bounded by the river, Plato Boulevard, and Robert and Wabasha streets. The city and Trooien’s company, JLT Group Inc., own most of the land.“I think the housing we have underway in downtown St.Paul could have as profound an impact on downtown as some of the larger developments like the Science Museum, new hockey arena and the Lawson Software building have had,” says Brian Sweeney, St. Paul’s planning director.

Earlier this summer, U.S. Bancorp announced plans for a $50 million office building and parking ramp on the flats. The service center will house about 750 employees initially and as many as 2,000 eventually. It will be built by Minnetonka, MN-based Opus Corp. at Robert Street and Fillmore Avenue.

The recent agreement makes the US Bancorp project possible by arranging the city’s purchase of 4 of the 8 acres needed for the service center and also paves the way for the housing component. The bank could break ground as early as December.

George Sherman, a Minneapolis developer who will work with Trooien on the project, anticipates housing construction might start by May and predicted the initial units will be finished in two years. Most ofthe units will be apartments and condominiums, with a small number of townhouses. While there will luxury condos near the river, there will also be affordable units.

The West Side project will be more time-consuming than many others because there is little existing infrastructure. Streets must be laid out, and sewers and utility lines will have to be built

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