Public Hearing at City Hall on 10-24-2018 to consider selling Public Safety Annex

If you want to provide feedback to City officials about the pending sale of the Public Safety Annex, which is located on 10th Street across from Lunds and Byerlys, please attend the public hearing that is scheduled at 4:30 pm, on Wednesday, Oct. 24, in the Council Chambers on the 3rd floor of the City Hall / Ramsey County Courthouse. The Public Safety Annex is the building next to the site of the former Pedro Luggage building, which was donated and demolished so that the land could become a City park.

At the public hearing, the City Council members and Housing and Redevelopment Authority(HRA) commissioners will vote on:

  • a resolution to approve the development agreement with the Ackerberg Group that is contained in the Mayor’s Pedro Park Proposal
  • a resolution authorizing the vacation and disposal of the former Public Safety Annex to the HRA for subsequent redevelopment, and authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation to enter into agreements for the implementation of Pedro Park.

Council Member Rebecca Noecker is seeking consideration for an alternative proposal, which would demolish the Public Safety Annex.

For questions, call 651-266-8854 and refer to file number 06-2018. City staff from the Office of Financial Services – Real Estate Section will be available until 3:00 pm on Oct. 24 to answer questions on this project.

Please see the City Council Meeting Agenda and Public Hearing protocol for more info.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, the CapitolRiver Council board of directors voted to recommend support for Noecker’s proposal. The following resolution was adopted:

Whereas, the Capitol River Council has consistently supported the intent of the Comprehensive Plan to create a full block park in the Fitzgerald Park Neighborhood; and

Whereas, the generous gift of the Pedro property and the availability of a publicly owned building makes a .85-acre park possible; and

Whereas an economically and racially diverse neighborhood which continues to grow is served by this park;

Therefore, be it resolved that the CRC supports the plan proposed by Council Member Rebecca Noecker to demolish the Public Safety Annex creating a simple green space for active play and recreation, and opposes the plan to sell the Annex in order to create a more formally hardscaped pocket park to border an office building.

CapitolRiver Council (CRC) staff and board members have had many discussions with downtown residents and other stakeholders about this project. Here is a brief timeline of this planning process and more information about CRC’s position to oppose the sale of the Public Safety Annex:

2003-2006: CRC worked with City staff and the City Planning Commission to adopt the Fitzgerald Park Precinct Plan which includes a goal to create a full-block park on this block (between 9th and 10th streets, and Robert and Minnesota streets). This plan was created through a series of public meetings.

2011-12: CRC participated in the Pedro Park design process – see the documents near the bottom of this page of the City website:

2013: The City of Saint Paul’s Capital Improvement Budget provides funding to “develop a master plan and cost estimate for the phased development of critical parcels for a new downtown park within the block bounded by 10th, Robert, 9th and Minnesota Streets.” The document states the following justification for this project: “A park is called for at this location based on the Fitzgerald Park Precinct Plan, adopted by the Saint Paul City Council as part of the Comprehensive Plan in 2006. Major redevelopment of the area surrounding this park has taken place in the last few years and it is now bordered by the 290 unit The Pointe condominium on the west, the 129 unit Rossmor building on the east, and the 228 unit City Walk on the south with apartment construction and a grocery store scheduled to begin in the near future. This park will create a much needed outdoor park and gathering space for this new neighborhood and help to create a sense of neighborhood for this community.” (Text is from page 44 of the 2013 Adopted Capital Improvement Budget)

Jan. 7, 2015: The Saint Paul City Council adopts Resolution 14-1861, which gives half of the block the name “Pedro Park” (half block bounded by Robert Street, 10th Street and Minnesota Street).

May 27, 2015: City Council adopts Resolution 15-945 Granting (i) approval to enter into the necessary documents with the Port Authority of the City of Saint Paul for the development, construction, installation, and equipping of a new Public Safety Training Facility for the City of Saint Paul and the demolition of the existing Public Safety Annex of the City of Saint Paul and stabilization of such site after demolition; and (ii) preliminary approval of the issuance of certain public safety general obligation bonds anticipated to be issued by the City of Saint Paul and authorizing City finance staff and advisors to take certain actions with respect to the sale of such public safety general obligation bonds.

2016: City of Saint Paul Capital Improvement Budget — Page 74 describes funding for new police facility, with the following justification: “The police annex located at 100 E 10th Street is an aging and deficient building. The space does not meet the demands of our police force. Understanding this has caused the city to evaluate the building and decide on a plan to remove the building and develop the site into a park.”

Feb. 13, 2017: City officials announced at a meeting at Tin Whiskers that the decision was made to “push pause” on the plan to demolish the police annex. The event was not a public hearing, and City officials made it clear that they were not open to suggestions about whether or not they should seek to sell the building. NOTE: The CRC board passed a motion at its March 15, 2017 meeting (see the 03-15-17_ minutes) that opposed this decision, and emphasized support for the Fitzgerald Park Precinct Plan. That position was conveyed in a letter to then-mayor Chris Coleman and City Council Member Rebecca Noecker.

March – September 2017: The City sought proposals from developers (see the City’s Economic Development Opportunities – Public Safety Annex page), despite the City Charter requirement in Chapter 51, which states:  “Whenever the duly authorized head of any department may deem it for the best interests of the city to dispose of any real property belonging to or under the control of his department, said officer shall prepare or cause to be prepared a report to the council of said city fully describing the real property to be disposed of and the reasons why the disposition thereof is desirable. The council shall, if agreeable and after vacation of property heretofore or hereafter acquired by the city … by resolution approve said project and direct the disposal of the same in the following manner:” (The City must obtain an appraisal of the property and follow certain requirements to sell at a public auction, or by requesting sealed bids, or by advertising for bid proposals, or by conducting a private negotiated sale. The option to sell by advertising for bid proposals requires a decision by the City Council with 5 affirmative votes.) Then-Mayor Coleman announced the staff recommendation to award tentative developer status to The Ackerberg Group  in a Sept. 27, 2017 news release.

Oct. 25, 2017: The CRC board adopted the following motion: “The CapitolRiver Council urges the City of Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority to vote against the proposed sale of the Police Annex, and follow the Comprehensive Plan goal to develop a City park on Block 10.” (This was also conveyed to City officials.) The HRA voted 4-3 to award Tentative Developer Status to the Ackerberg Group. The Pedro Park page on the City website has more information about that, as well as meeting notes from a new Pedro Park design process.

May-June 2018: A CRC board member and other residents participated in a Pedro Park Design Advisory Committee to provide input on potential improvements to the former Pedro Luggage parcel (the current urban flower field), and the committee was informed that the input would be used by The Ackerberg Group to include in its development agreement (to purchase the building and pay for the park improvements and maintenance for 20 years). Six residents resigned from the committee because City staff refused to discuss future park expansion possibilities. If the Public Safety Annex is renovated instead of razed, the park could only expand across the alley or through the building itself. Therefore, it is important to discuss these options now. CRC conveyed these concerns to City staff and to City Council members.