Neighbors Embrace New Oil Refinery for Ford Site

ford-aerial-aprilfools aerial rendering of improved Ford site

St. Paul, Minnesota — residents of the Highland Park neighborhood have been struggling for months against an outrageous proposal to redevelop the Ford Site with business, homes, and public green space. Today, Neighbors for a Livable St. Paul announced the results of their successful campaign to preserve neighborhood character. Instead of unsightly urban apartment homes, the industrial legacy of the site will be preserved, through the construction of a new oil refinery.

“We have long treasured the pristine open space afforded to us by the Ford plant,” neighborhood activist Gertrude Lowerthan wrote in a letter to the Highland Villager. “Other than the smoke stacks, the new Highland Park Refinery will afford neighbors uninterrupted views of the Mississippi.”

Site Plan Changes

The original site plan called for an unattractive mix of various forms of “pack and stack” housing, and an almost dizzying array of streets matching the surrounding grid. The new site plan is considered “context-sensitive” by the neighborhood, by preserving the existing vibrant mix of uses provided by the Ford plant.

The original designations proposed by planners would bring business, residents, and attractive public spaces to the neighborhood, ruining the surrounding character.

April Fool's Ford Site Plan

The revised site plan will preserve the neighborhood character of the historic Ford Plant.

“Now that’s a refined site plan,” grinned Scott Bensin, president of the Highland District Council. “Maybe in some places, they might like to have families, kids, dogs, and green space next door. But our residents are holding firm in Highland Park against this Minneapolification of St. Paul. Why have people living across the street when you can have something less impactful — like heavy industrial?”

Keeping the River Pristine

One particular sticking point for the previous plans for the Ford site was the changes to the feel for Mississippi River Blvd. Planners proposed buildings up to 48′ high front Mississippi River Blvd. Neighbors for a Livable St. Paul noted that this would ruin views from the parkway, spoiling the natural surrounding.

The new refinery will rebuild the historic Ford concrete wall, preserving the decades-old view from River Blvd for years to come.

Ford site view from Mississippi River Blv

The scenic views of the site from Mississippi River Blvd, pictured here from 2011, will be left unscathed by the new refinery. Image: Google Maps

Sean Hayford Oleary

About Sean Hayford Oleary

Sean Hayford Oleary is a web developer and planner. He serves on the Richfield City Council, and previously on the city's Planning and Transportation commissions. Articles are written from a personal perspective and not on behalf of Richfield or others. Sean has a masters in urban planning from the Humphrey School. Follow his love of streets, home improvement, and all things Richfield on Twitter @sdho.