Part II: We Read Ford Site Hearing Comments So You Don’t Have To

Reading the Comments

Reading the Comments

When controversy happens….when tempers flare….we read the commentsso you don’t have to.

Previously, we read the comments from articles published around the time of last week’s first hearing. The second hearing was on Wednesday night, and there were speeches and votes and thus articles and comments. So here we are, once again: Reading the comments.

Everything we said before still applies: This is a big opportunity and big opportunities bring out big support and big NIMBYism and random weirdos!

We read the comments and rated each media outlet on a scale of 1-5 stars, where 1 means “reading these made us feel dumber,” and 5 means “we have hope for our civilization, even if some dude recommended the Ford Site become a golf course.”

Star Tribune: Ford plant site plan approved by City Council on 5-2 vote



  • Fact free comment: “Your “both sides” reporting on this is pretty lazy. The reporter went to the city council meeting and “some support” and “some don’t.” Are you kidding? Sentiment in Highland Park is overwhelmingly against this plan.” Various data isn’t that conclusive.
  • User “leftwingnews,” who we met in the last comments, announces his/her intent to move out of Ramsey County entirely. Probably to Anoka County. (Ed. note: Comment reader lives in Anoka County.)
  • “Sell your home and business now Highland Park residents. The Village you knoe and love, is no more. Remember this when it is time to vote again. Tolbert and Coleman, your days in office are numbered.” Coleman isn’t running for mayor again, so there’s that!
  • “Once again, Highland gets the love and the Eastside gets the shaft.” So. As a former East Sider (this post was about my house), I will say this is complex. The city completely screwed up planning the 3M site near Minnehaha and E7th. There are other opportunities to be addressed. But! The nature of this very large site is that it is near Highland and the river, and it absolutely had to be addressed. The issues are not actually well-linked. The city needs to look at the East Side more (ahem, Jane Prince), but can’t just neglect a generational site like this one.
  • “just legalize bud already and make it a giant pot field.” O the children! (Also, pro tip: You can find ditchweed galore in Hidden Falls.)
  • Couple mandatory Amazon references.
  • Suggestion it be a community garden or linear park.

Score: 1?. The “winners” of last night were clearly at Tiff’s in Highland Village celebrating, and the salt of these comments is quite salty! No references to unicorns or kombucha. Lots of tangents that don’t really connect, like East Side references, kind weed, etc.

KSTP: St. Paul City Council Approves Master Plan for Ford Site

So, we cheated here and looked at Facebook for comments. There were 5.

Not much to see. Couple sad emojis, and a comment that the soccer stadium should have gone there. (No, it shouldn’t have. Rail access matters a lot.)

Score: meh

WCCO: St. Paul City Council Approves Proposal For Highland Park Ford Site

1 comment.

Commenter laments that sometimes cities approve development and that it can change the character of a neighborhood. She moved to Dakota County.

Score: meh

Pioneer Press: St. Paul council approves sweeping plan to redevelop former Ford plant

A fine Frederick Melo piece. Lots of council quotes! His Twitter was en fuego last night too.

42 comments. We doubt we will find the answers to life, the universe and everything in these comments, and more likely stuff in the vein of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where Rule 42 requires all persons over a mile high to leave the court. Only applied to buildings, of course.

Let’s see:

  • mikesonn salutes the outcome. (Hi Mike!) Someone claims Mike owes them $250.
  • “I personally thought the plan was way short on what I would have liked to see. More apartments and $10/hour jobs don’t seem like a great use of what was touted as a “special” opportunity for our neighborhood.” Not sure what people wanted instead. Another park?
  • “20%. That is a lot of low income housing. That is 1 out of every 5 homes. Unless, they are placed in distinctly different sections within the development I don’t envision high end homes selling well.” Several complexes along Shepard Road integrate lower income housing pretty well. And you can rent section 8 IN HIGHLAND (shock!). I really think people do not know the range of “low income.” It’s not just immigrants and poor people! It includes people who work and bag your groceries. Anyway, here’s betting all that low income housing ends up being senior rentals. Everyone loves low income senior rentals.
  • “This move by the city will turn this area into a higher density level than New York City!” Depends on how you measure stuff. Manhattan this won’t be.
  • “This is a slap in the face of every hardworking family that sacrificed to move into an area that is a good and safe area for their families. “
  • crime crime crime freakout crime
  • More Amazon stuff. A user rightly points out that Amazon jobs wouldn’t solve the low income housing thing by giving those people jobs: “Hahaha. Yeah, Amazon’s six-figure HQ jobs are totally being earmarked for low-income, poverty-stricken adults. All those unemployed and destitute accountants and IP lawyers and logistics specialists.”

Score: 0 ?. Once again, no good kombucha references, and complete disregard for what affordable and low income housing really represents. I bet a lot of these people like to stop at Starbucks in the morning. Many Starbucks baristas count as low income because the wages suck! Being able to walk to work (avoiding vehicle expense) and have a place to sleep (not their vehicle) is good!

And look, y’all: I lived in Highland for several years. I also have lived on the North Side (not far from Maryland and Larpenteur; the local drug dealers once helped my mom while she was lost) and on the East Side (previously mentioned, near the Dari-Ette, represent!). The NIMBYism and simultaneous angst about tax rates (but not adding good tax base) makes me really quite sad. Housing demand in the cities is sky-high, and even as everyone asks “y no Amazon on Ford Site” they neglect the impact of what such an HQ does to housing markets if housing isn’t built (and what it would do to traffic, well in excess of this development).

Now, let’s all wait for the Livable Saint Paul lawsuit. It’s coming.

About Julie Kosbab

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005, and is no longer lonely in that calling. A past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association, she has 2 children and a garage full of bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations, or read her (seldom updated) blog at Ride Boldly!

12 thoughts on “Part II: We Read Ford Site Hearing Comments So You Don’t Have To

  1. karen

    The 20 percent affordable housing – is that the type that expires after 15 years – then meh.

    If it is long-term affordable housing – that is a good thing to have mixed in with higher incomes – this is what more successful cities manage to do, avoid concentrated poverty areas.

    Wish community could own more properties like this and lease the land.

    But I still give City of St. Paul kudos for going for as much density as one could probably get in the area and should probably get (lots of three and four story density is plenty for most cities if you keep building) and for the City getting all kinds of community input and envisioning something rather than just letting Ford sell it and see what happens.

    1. Julie Kosbab Moderator   Post author

      I’m unsure about the term limit (if any) on affordability.

      My bet remains that it is built as “senior rentals.” Everyone gets all a-twitch about “affordable” because it means crime! poor people! etc., but they don’t twitch like that when it’s granny (even though maybe granny deals, you can’t know for sure).

      It’s how they’ll balance “build affordable housing” with “appease neighbors.” And, to be fair, in some places having nearby senior rentals encourages empty-nesters to sell off homes in that neighborhood, knowing they can stay nearby, and not have to climb three sets of stairs to do laundry.

  2. Aaron IsaacsAaron Isaacs

    Nothing ever satisfies NIMBYs. Demolish their arguments and they just raise new ones. The cliches are inceases in traffic congestion and crime and decreases in property values. The first is always overstated and the other two don’t happen. It falls to elected officials to see the hysteria for what it is and embrace the greater good.

  3. David MarkleDavid Markle

    I’m surprised that apparently no one has worried in print about the possibility of the development falling short of its promise. An extreme example would be the extremely high density Cedar Square West complex of approximately 1300 units. After it went back into the hands of HUD and finally got sold to two of the City of Minneapolis’s favorite insider developers (in an apparently corrupt transaction), becoming Riverside Plaza, the new owners (so-called redevelopers) insisted on enormously upping the percentage of federally rent-subsidized units.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      You’re surprised that no one is concerned that today’s urban real estate environment is the same as the ’60s/’70s?

      I mean, it could be except all evidence being that it’s not.

  4. David MarkleDavid Markle

    The transaction I cited above took place in the early 1990’s; I’d have to go into the files for an exact date.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      Perhaps it’s only my (formerly suburban) perception that’s changed, but the complex seems vastly better today than in the early ’90.

      The vision wasn’t towers full of immigrants, but it seems to work anyway.

      1. Dana DeMasterDanaD

        Victoria Park’s more recent history is pretty relevant. The originally planned intentions called for 850 housing units and street-level retail. Now, there are 423 units (with about 40 more planned to break ground soon) and the only retail is Mississippi Market, which is very different than the retail with housing/offices above like originally planned. Lots of things happen along the way between plans and what is actually developed.

  5. David MarkleDavid Markle

    I know people who live there, and they tell of ongoing complaints about maintenance and other matters.

    My basic point about the example is the descent from an idealistic vision reminiscent of Solieri and Le Corbusier, one where all types and social strata of people would live, down to an ongoing reality of what’s clearly the highest substantial concentration of race and poverty in the state ever since it became Riverside Plaza. It seems that a lot of the income goes elsewhere in George Sherman’s real estate empire, and both revenue and periodic major repair draw heavily from the public trough.

    Despite the location only two and one half blocks from the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota, the owners show no inclination whatsoever to take advantage of “today’s urban real estate environment.”

  6. David MarkleDavid Markle

    I wonder, too, if St. Paul has enough economic dynamism to make the huge Ford site proposal succeed. Cautionary St Paul examples might include Galtier Plaza and the current difficulty in getting the West Law site going.

    1. Julie Kosbab Moderator   Post author

      I think the West site has its own issues galore that are somewhat different than those of the Ford Site.

      St. Paul is very segregated as far as economic status and race is concerned. I don’t think the Council can or should plan using that status quo, however. Call it social engineering, but it’s the kind of social that needs engineering.

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