New micro-apartments could be coming to South St. Anthony Park

Don't be fooled - this rendering is of the proposed building's companion project: a two-story apartment on Raymond Avenue.

Don't be fooled - this rendering is of the proposed building's companion project: a two-story apartment on Raymond Avenue. Jamie Stolpestad

St. Anthony Park is one of those rare spots in St. Paul that has a small-town feel. It’s possible to see cornfields as you’re strolling past book shops and bakeries -- even if they’re part of the University of Minnesota’s “living laboratory.”

But the southern part of St. Anthony Park is about to get taller. The St. Paul City Council voted unanimously to rezone Long Avenue, raising the maximum height of buildings to four stories.

Developer Jamie Stolpestad asked for the change because he’s planning an apartment building for 2330 Long Ave., which is currently a parking lot on the corner of Long Avenue and Raymond Avenue, just minutes away from the light rail station.

Stolpestad is still putting out feelers for what the new building will offer. He’s considered micro-apartments, spaces of about 420 square feet. In other buildings, they usually rent for a little over $1,200. He’s also open to offering fewer, larger, more expensive spaces. It all depends on what gets the most response from potential tenants.

One thing he does know: Rezoning before he designs will save him time and money down the line.

“We want to make sure we know what the rules are and then spend time and draw something that meets those rules,” he says.

Stolpestad is also designing another building in the area, and in many ways this new development is a companion project. He’s redeveloping an existing “handsome, two-story structure” with co-working space on the ground level and up to nine luxury condominiums.

The vote of approval for this new structure was unanimous, but at least one council member was feeling iffy about okaying the zoning change without knowing what was going to be built. Council Member Jane Prince wanted to know more about the building.

“Is it 20 units or is it 50 units? Is it going to include affordable housing?” she asked.

Many of the residents who came forward that night -- both for and against the development -- seemed to be under the impression that it was all or none of those things. She said she voted in approval because she knows there’s a need for housing close to the Green Line… but still.

“I do want to send a message to developers to please not put us in this position going forward,” she said.

Stolpestad says there will be affordable housing in the new building. Twenty percent of the units will go for 60 percent of the area’s median rent. Whether they will be studios or micro-apartments or two-bedrooms remains to be seen.