Context and History

Context & History

For centuries, industry has been the appreciated source of jobs and production contributing to vibrant communities. The Twin Cities Ford Plant situated in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul created livelihood for generations of individuals. In 2006, Ford officials announced plans to close the factory. However, positive sales from the Ford Ranger allowed operating to continue, extending the official closing date to December 2011. Since the plant’s closure, phases of demolition have started and redevelopment of the space is now an opportunity of a lifetime.

Following the initial announcement of the Ford plant’s closure in 2006, labor leaders and youth leaders alike started to look for new models to build a sustainable and socially just economy in the face of de-industrialization. The potential of this project grew into a question of how we can create a model to revitalize old industrial sites across the country as new engines of thriving communities and strong economies.

We Became The Alliance To Re-Industrialize For A Sustainable Economy

The ARISE Coalition – initiated by Ford Union Rep Lynn Hinkle – was formed by a small number of individuals who saw an opportunity in the public process of deciding the future of the Ford site in Saint Paul.
To lay the groundwork for a long-lasting, vibrant community, we use a collaborative approach drawing from a diverse knowledge base. Groups contributing to this development plan include a range of issue advocates, technical experts, and educated youth. Organizations that have local experience with implementing transit, housing, and energy developments have been vital assets in our process. In addition to addressing values brought up by the public, the ARISE plan is well aligned with the City of Saint Paul’s Sustainability Guideline for the Ford Site and the St. Paul Port Authority’s recent study on re-industrializing St. Paul (see links in Resources).

Between 2006 and 2007, the City of Saint Paul brought together developer consultants to evaluate the potential economic, social, and environmental impacts of different mixed-use site designs that might replace the Ford plant and produced five scenarios to use as baseline comparisons with proposed development plans, such as that being shaped by ARISE. The scenarios differ in the proportion of land dedicated to the different uses, the number and character of employment and housing opportunities, as well as various community and transit related features, but all include high environmental standards in building construction.

Scenario 1 – Similar to previous use as primarily industrial site, with new focus on light industry flex-tech; minimal expansion of open space and housing.
Scenario 2 – Mixed use with approximately equal acreage designated for flex-tech light manufacturing, housing, and open space.
Scenario 3 – Mixed use prioritizing office and institutional uses within a primarily urban campus design; some housing and open space.
Scenario 4 – Mixed use with primary focus on a mix of housing options; retail, office, and institutional space integrated into vertically mixed buildings; some open space.
Scenario 5 – Mixed use designating most space for higher density housing and open space, allowing for mass transit infrastructure; minimal retail and office space.

Details about the design and impact of these baseline models are outlined in the Phase 1 Summary Report Redevelopment of the Ford Motor Company Site prepared for the City of Saint Paul by the EDAW team.

The proposals demonstrate that the city of Saint Paul is interested in reintroducing light industry with improved environmental standards, but they lack in a full utilization of the city and region’s available resources. The ARISE plan expands on the benefits of the proposed scenarios. This alternative plan synthesizes high-value job creation, mixed housing choices, low-traffic transit, on-site energy generation and active open space to maximize the economic social, and environmental benefits possible in the development. Through input from its variety of stakeholders, the ARISE Coalition has been able to build off an optimized version of the five planning scenarios developed by the city. As the plan is still forming, we are continuing to seek insight on how to achieve our goals of building a vibrant and stable community.