Saint Paul Port Authority Board Approves Hillcrest Golf Course Acquisition

Board of Commissioners

The Saint Paul Port Authority’s board of commissioners approved the purchase of Hillcrest Golf Course on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. The vision for Hillcrest is the creation of a mixed-use development with housing, jobs, and green space.

Hillcrest Golf Course Purchase Details

Prior to the board vote, the Saint Paul Port Authority executed a contingent purchase agreement with Hillcrest LLC to acquire the 112-acre golf course for $10 million. This equates to $2.05 per square feet. In comparison, the Port Authority paid $2.58 per square feet for the former 3M campus, now known as Beacon Bluff.

There are contingencies in place that will dictate closing. The first step was board approval. Next will be City Council’s approval of a $10 million Port Authority bond to fund the purchase. Debt service on the bond will be approximately $750,000 per year, over a 25-year term. This equates to five dollars per year for a median valued home in Saint Paul.

Financial Projections

Additional costs include infrastructure improvements and environmental remediation. While actual costs will depend upon the final master plan, infrastructure investments are estimated to be between $22 million and $24 million. Similarly, clean-up costs are expected to be $2.5 million. In order to pay for these upgrades, the Port Authority will use grants, land sales, and assessments.

Following redevelopment, the estimated value of the Hillcrest Golf Course site will be $250 million. Furthermore, tax revenues are expected to increase from $500,000 to $5 million per year, representing a return of seven times the annual debt service on the bonds.

Project Timeline

If approved by city council, the Port Authority will close on the property by June 26, 2019. From there, the Saint Paul Planning and Economic Development (PED) department will lead the master planning process. This should start in the fall of 2019 and include a robust community engagement process. From start to finish, this should take between 12 and 18 months.

Subsequently, the Port Authority will manage mass grading, environmental remediation, and infrastructure improvements, following the terms of the master plan. From there, the Port Authority will lead the design, construction, and delivery of market-ready development parcels. The site could be on the market as soon as 2021.

Development Opportunities

First and foremost, the final master plan will drive all development opportunities. With that being said, research shows demand for up to 1,000 jobs on the site. In addition, there is capacity for up to 1,000 housing units, to rent or own, of varying densities.