(April Fools image) St. Paul Port Authority Ayd Mill Stroad - Amazon site after improvements - simplified for featured image

St. Paul Port Authority Announces ‘Ayd Mill Stroad’ Redevelopment Plan

St. Paul, Minn. — The St. Paul Port Authority (SPPA), the city’s redevelopment agency, announced an exciting initiative to bring much-needed investment and redevelopment to the struggling Ayd Mill Road corridor. The plan is called the Ayd Mill Stroad Opportunity Corridor.

“Ayd Mill has long suffered an identity crisis,” acknowledged St. Paul Port Authority spokesman Jeffrey Industrielle. “Is it a road to connect to 35E? Is it a street or parkway for the neighborhood? Our answer: It’s neither. It’s a stroad of opportunity.”

(April Fools image) St. Paul Port Authority Ayd Mill Stroad Opportunity Corridor logo

Ayd Mill History

Ayd Mill Road is a short connector from Interstate 35E to Selby Avenue. Although it was originally envisioned as connecting to I-94 slightly farther north, the road has long ended at its current terminus, with only the south end connecting to the freeway system.

The road was originally called “Short Line Road,” a storied history reflected in SPPA’s slogan for the project, “The Short Line to Prosperity.”

Ayd Mill Road
Ayd Mill Stroad prior to proposed Opportunity Corridor improvements (photo: Bill Lindeke)

SPPA Brings Unique Expertise

The St. Paul Port Authority has long eschewed the traditional redevelopment approach of other agencies working in established central cities. Rather than being confined by ideas of “dense tax base,” “pedestrian-friendliness” or “transit-orientation,” SPPA has sought visionary alternatives — such as light industrial at the Hillcrest site, light industrial on Arlington Avenue and light industrial at the Great Northern Business Center.

“The Great Northern Business Center is one of our greatest successes,” said spokesman Industrielle. “Walk score of 71, a 10-minute walk to the Green Line? I can’t think of a better place to put semi-trucks and a low-density warehouse.”

New Vision Shows Strategic Public-Private Partnership

Although the St. Paul Port Authority often begins land work prior to new businesses being identified, the Ayd Mill Stroad Opportunity Corridor is being announced with private partners at the ready.

Respected national businesses such as Walmart, Amazon.com and Kwik Trip are already committed to invest in St. Paul.

Walmart to Revitalize Grand (Bargains) Avenue

The first project is unusual for the St. Paul Port Authority: While typically partnering to build warehouses, SPPA will instead be building a discount shopping warehouse, in the form of a Walmart Super Center. The exciting new development will anchor the corner of Grand Avenue and Ayd Mill Stroad.

To recognize the investment in the community, Grand Avenue will be renamed Grand Bargains Avenue.

“We’ve heard a lot about Grand Avenue businesses struggling in recent years, but if we know there’s one thing that fixes a flagging main street, it’s a new Walmart,” beamed Industrielle.

“The name Grand Bargains Avenue was chosen after an extensive focus group of guys from Arden Hills and Eagan who we believe will be optimally positioned to shop at this new Walmart.”

Amazon Fulfillment Center to Provide High-Quality, Living-Wage Jobs

The second project will improve approximately 350 homes into an Amazon fulfillment center, with ample green space and quasi-public stormwater features. Kwik Trip will be occupying the eastern outlot, providing convenience to the regional motorist and up to two-dozen minimum wage jobs. Selby Avenue will be renamed Amazon Parkway.

Local Summit Avenue advocacy group Save our Street (SOS) was quick to embrace the proposal, telling Streets.mn in a statement, “By providing ample parking, the proposed Amazon–Kwik Trip campus will preserve the most important historical features of Summit Avenue: widely available on-street parking lanes. As long as there’s no bike trail, the integrity of this iconic street will be preserved for future generations.”

At press time, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced that it was seeking funding to study conversion of the Hamline Avenue–I-94 interchange into a Diverging Diamond to help support this critical economic development initiative.

Editor’s note: April Fools’! The longstanding tradition at Streets.mn continues.

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.

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