Thanks to Cardinal Corner for their support.
In 2017, the Smith/Dodd Small Area Plan reimagined the Smith/Dodd intersection in West St. Paul, including realigning roads and redeveloping longtime businesses. While it seemed a long way off at the time, those plans might be coming to fruition as the city’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) reviews a proposal from Paster Properties, who owns Doddway Center.
Paster proposes two four-story buildings with a mix of residential and retail—the plan would keep Oxendale’s. The buildings would be pushed to Bernard and Smith, leaving a plaza area near the intersection with parking in the rear (and underground parking).
The proposed project is still in early concept stages, so nothing is necessarily final and a lot can still change. There aren’t hard and fast numbers yet either, but there is a bold proposal that fits with the earlier plan and incorporates neighborhood features.
While this plan is still early and likely to change, here are some of the proposed details:
- Intersection changes: The road realignments are incredibly complicated and could take the form of an offset intersection or a roundabout (back in 2017 the roundabout seemed to be the least popular option). Both Smith and Dodd are state roads, so MNDoT will have a significant voice in the process. However, since the state recently finished work on the intersection, it’s unlikely the state will contribute financially.
- Retail: The proposal maintains the Oxendale’s grocery store (with a potential plan to keep it open during construction) in the southern building and another 23,000 square feet of commercial space in the northern building. No word yet on tenants for that space or what happens to the other existing tenants at Doddway Center.
- Residential: The planned residential buildings include 147 units total. No details were offered on the size of the units, pricing, or specialization (senior, workforce, etc.)
- Parks: Albert Park will remain as a dedicated park, though the hope is to expand the park into a larger plaza area that’s more accessible. The city is considering offering the northern half of Dodd Park, which currently has a winter skating rink and a closed warming house, as part of the development. The park was originally donated to the city in a land swap, and the hope is that if that extra land makes the project work, more public spaces could be included in the project. The Dodd Park playground would remain.
- 1010 Dodd: A portion of the city-owned lot at 1010 Dodd (the southern corner of the Smith/Dodd intersection) will likely be used for the intersection realignment. This lot is the site of an informal memorial for Officer Scott Patrick, who was killed in the line of duty in 2014. There aren’t specific plans yet, but the idea of a formal memorial will be considered in the design process.
So what’s the cost? We don’t know yet. The proposal notes that tax increment financing (TIF) will likely be required, but it’s too early for any details.
A frequent question for recent projects like this is how much more housing does West St. Paul need? Especially with the current Gateway Place, Dominium, Savor, and Westlyn projects. Every recent housing study has emphasized the need for more multi-family housing.
While those studies pre-date the current projects and now West St. Paul has made a huge step toward providing the necessary housing, it’s unlikely West St. Paul has tapped out the market (clearly the developer thinks it will be profitable). At any rate, the increase in people will create a larger base to support the commercial establishments many people are requesting.
While first proposed in 2017, this plan is part of a slow resurgence coming to the Smith/Dodd area that arguably started with FoodSmith in 2020. Other nearby changes or redevelopment include the Camelot Cleaners building and the former Laurel Music Studio, both of which were for sale. Nothing is final, but a tattoo/body art business had expressed interest in the Laurel Music Studio building. There’s also a rumored cafe/bakery coming to the former dance studio just down the road on Dodd.
For a sense of history, here’s a concept drawing from back in 2017 for what the Smith/Dodd area could look like with redevelopment:
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