Lowertown Loses Hundreds of Parking Spots to Ballpark

Updated: 07/26/2013 7:52 AM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough

Whether you live or work in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul, you know parking can be a challenge.

In a matter of days, it'll be even more challenging in one St. Paul neighborhood. That's because Lowertown is losing hundreds of parking spots. Residents who own the stalls don't have a choice.

Matt Gross bought a parking stall in 2008. He likes the location; it's close to his condo across the street, "that's one of the criteria of me buying here was that I had parking, it was done, it was settled, I didn't have to worry about it anymore. Now that's no longer the case."
The City of St. Paul is taking over the entire parking lot outside of Market House, 55 spots plus another 200 in Lowertown, citing eminent domain.

It's a law that gives government the power to take private property for public use. In this case, to develop a stadium for the Saints. "The ballpark has a footprint and it's in an urban built out area, it's a tight fit and each piece of land is precious," according to Joe Campbell, Mayor Coleman's spokesperson.

Some residents feel blindsided, "So far they haven't done anything, they said, 'thanks for your property, see ya wouldn't want to be ya,'" said Gross.

Campbell says City leaders are aware of the predicament and are helping to work through some issues.

There are two options on the table: compensation or replacement parking. Tax records show a stall is roughly worth $8,700.

Gross responds, "we don't want the money, you can't park in a checking account you need a parking spot, so we want a replacement parking spot......parking blocks away really decreased the value of the property and your quality of life is diminished if you have to do that."

Tom Erickson owns property in the area. He's concerned all of Lowertown might suffer, "we're concerned about loan values in the area and there'll be a lot of properties that'll be underwater condo properties and commercial properties."

While some residents focus on what they're losing, city leaders point to what the area will gain, "we're gonna have 400,000 people there every year, bars and restaurants will relocate, businesses too, these are all good things, it brings vitality to the neighborhood," says Campbell.

Lowertown residents and the City of St. Paul have a court date next month in Ramsey County. It's a hearing to determine what fair compensation for parking spots is.

KSTP touched base with city planners in Minneapolis and St. Paul to find out what a parking space costs downtown: the average cost for an above ground space runs $15,000. A stall below ground is more expensive averaging $25,000.