by Dan Rafter
Matt Rauenhorst refers to the location of the West 7th mixed-use development in Saint Paul as the edge of urban.
This means that the development, which will bring 191 new luxury apartment units to the Seven Corners neighborhood of Saint Paul, is located close to such urban amenities as the Xcel Energy Center, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and plenty of shops, restaurants and employers. But it also boasts some of the benefits more often associated with a suburban location: West 7th will be within walking distance of the jogging and bike paths that meander along the river and through the more residential areas of the city.
This combination is a potent one, says Rauenhorst, vice president of Opus Development Company, the developer of the project. And it’s one that he predicts will spur more multifamily and mixed-use development along the West 7th corridor.
“I think this will be a real catalyst for this end of Saint Paul,” Rauenhorst said. “This site meets so mnay of the items we look for when it comes to multifamily development. We are looking for live, work and play options for future residents. This location has that.”
Walkability is a key amenity for multifamily projects today. A growing number of renters are renting by choice, not just because they can’t qualify for a mortgage loan. These residents want to live somewhere where they can walk to public transportation, restaurants, shops and theaters.
West 7th offers this walkability. Residents here will be able to take a short walk west to reach the hospital employment base. Those who walk east and northeast will shortly hit the downtown Saint Paul employment core. West 7th residents, then, can easily access employment centers from the Seven Corners location.
“We have all the confidence that our West Seventh project will be a successful one,” Rauehnorst said. “We think that the Saint Paul market is just a couple of years behind Minneapolis when it comes to multifamily. The demand drivers for multifamily housing are in place. This project will be successful, and we think more will be coming behind it.”
The Opus Group started construction on the six-story luxury apartment and retail development in September. Rauenhorst says that he expects the first residents to move in during the fourth quarter of 2016 or the first of 2017.
The project will feature 191 studio, one- and two-bedroom units and three-bedroom townhome-style residences. It will also include 11,500 square feet of ground-level retail space.
The multifamily portion of the project will boast such amenities as an outdoor courtyard with a pool, hot tub, bocce ball court and grill areas. It will also offer a terrace-level patio and club room with impressive river views.
Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, in a statement, said that the addition of the project will provide a boost to the Seven Corners neighborhood.
“Projects like this one demonstrate the power of collaborative, community-focused development,” Coleman said. “I am excited to see the development of this iconic street corner, and know that it speaks volumes to the energy and momentum we are seeing across Saint Paul.”