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In early 2018, the city of West St. Paul voted to close the Thompson Oaks Golf Course. While the city-owned course had been losing money for years, the closure was forced because two holes of the course, owned by the adjacent YMCA, were being sold for redevelopment (see What’s going on with Hy-Vee and the YMCA?).
During the interim in 2018 and 2019, the course is being used for foot golf.
The primary challenge to developing the golf course is contaminated soil. In many places the cost of restoration is prohibitively expensive. It’s also the site of a former (and current) wetland, which also needs to be addressed.
There are currently a few separate but connected plans in the works:
At the July 8, 2019 Economic Development Authority (EDA) meeting, the city gave approval to move forward with a plan for a 150-unit, four-story, market-rate apartment complex on five acres on the north side of the former Thompson Oaks golf course.
The proposal specifically included the River-to-River Greenway trail.
Groundbreaking for what’s been dubbed the Westlyn apartment complex happened in November 2020 and is expected to be completed in 2022.
The same developer of the apartments has future plans to develop townhomes on the eastern edge of the former golf course property. There has been nothing official or confirmed yet.
Finally, Dakota County has developed a wetland restoration plan that includes restoring a creek that used to run through the site, waterfall features, and a boardwalk and trails around the ponds. The preliminary proposal incorporates the River-to-River Greenway trail and relies on a $500,000 clean water grant.
The total project cost is estimated to be $1.76 million, including a $100,000 contribution from West St. Paul. If grants can be secured, project construction would begin in 2021.
In addition to restoring the creek and the wetlands, the plan would maintain green space in an area where contamination has made development difficult (one estimated cited a $2 million cost to remediate the soil). Stormwater treatment would also stop 58,000 lbs. of sediment from reaching the Mississippi River each year.